Episode 23. ‘The Caledonian Tours
2015’ Tour No 8 –
Ronnie Welsh & Fife Flower Show.
Saturday 19th September
Well it was 7am when I left home for this 553 mile round trip up North and
back. It was just Mr. Bryce and myself who were making this trip as Vincent Pott’s knees were giving him some “jip” so we gave him another day off
and put it down to – Sick Unpaid this time – who says we are not a
caring “Tour Company”. I think this is the third time we have made an excursion
North to Ronnie Welsh’s and the Fife Flower Show.
I arrived at Roberts for 07:30 and before we set off he showed us his
propagating greenhouse. He had been dabbling in hybridizing again and
had managed to succeed in crossing Nichola Coates over Moira Callan as
the petals had fallen off the female and the pod was now “ripening”.
See a picture of Moira Callan on the right, Robert is on record stating
that it’s the best raising in the last 10 years – high praise
indeed. Whilst we were there Robert tapped another female flower that he
had crossed with pollen from Nichola Coates and the x4 petals dropped off
After a short while we set off as we had agreed to meet Ian Donaldson
and Kennedy McQuiston at John Hamilton’s home for 11am, then the x5 of
us would set off in a two cars to Ronnie Welsh’s.
We arrived at John Hamilton’s at just on 10am to find that Ian
Donaldson’s car was already there. We found John, Ian Donaldson, Kennedy McQuiston and Jim Gordon lurking in John’s greenhouse. We were
introduced to Jim Gordon who was one of Ian’s Fuchsia growing mates (A
big name in the fuchsia world) who fancied trying his luck with
John was in the process of potting up his cuttings from his cold frame
outside, he has potted up about 500 cuttings and must have had that many
still to do. That would mean, at a guess well over a x1000 cuttings
potted up by the time he has finished.
After a chat and a mug of coffee and our re-acquaintance with his x2
dogs it was time to make our move to the Kingdom of Fife, and King
Journey to Ronnie’s Kingdom -
Kennedy left his car at Johns, and Kennedy, John and Jim got in Ian’s
car. Then the x2 car convoy set of to West Calder to collect David Nimmo.
However we had to have x2 “comfort breaks” between leaving Colburn and
arriving at West Calder, basic translation for those of us who don’t
live in Kirkcudbright means we got lost!!!. When we arrived at David
Nimmo’s a certain driver from Kirkcudbright blamed the female sat-nav
voice for getting him lost!!!!!
Also during this Journey we had to travel at “4 score & 1” (I will let
you do the math’s) to keep up with the lead car, the only time we saw
his red brake lights was when we came up on a village / town, and the unnamed driver wanted to see a smiley face on the speed limit sign on the
way into the village or
town when you went under 30mph (see picture on
left). When we got through the town / village he jumped to warp speed
again and disappeared – it’s probably a good job Vincent did not come
because of what happened when we followed this driver earlier in the
year. You could call this the 2nd stage of the rally.
We eventually found David Nimmo’s house, at this point John transferred
cars and got in with Robert Bryce and I and David Nimmo joined Ian and
that motley crew in his car.
Then we skirted around Edinburgh and headed to the Forth Road Bridge to
get to the Kingdom of Fife.
We hit traffic crossing the road bridge, which gave us a chance to look
at the new Road Bridge that is currently under construction, not only
that but the fabulous Forth Rail Bridge was on the other side of us.
Then onto to Mehil, Near Leven on the East Coast of the Kingdom of Fife
via Kirkody to visit none other than Ronnie Welsh.
We arrived at Ronnie’s to find Ronnie Welsh and his good wife outside
his greenhouse with Jim Evans.
When we all entered his greenhouse I was amazed to see Begonias in
flower as good as they were for this time of year.
As you can see by the picture on the right just how much colour he still
had in his greenhouse for us to look at.
On the picture to the left you can see John Hamilton, Ronnie
David Nimmo discussing the finer points of some of the varieties on
Now at this point I pointed out a Seedling that I liked at the back of
his greenhouse, it was an unusual colour break and led to some “hot”
discussion – but I promised not to divulge anything else about this
“special” variety – but you could speak to Ronnie or Ian Donaldson about
it, I will say no more.
There was also a lot of leg pulling about a “plant” of Golden Hind that
Ian had given Ronnie – it turned out to be a very small cutting.
I then told them about a cutting of Robert Tyler Murphy I won in a
raffle at Southport Flower Show last year – This cutting has been
mentioned many times under the title of “Cutting enigma” and that it was
a cutting donated by Ian Donaldson.
Now earlier in the year at a Scottish Begonia Society Meeting Ian
Donaldson brought me a big plant of Robert Tyler Murphy – Now this was
either down to:
• He is a decent kind of man (that we all know he is)
• He felt guilty for giving me a dodgy cutting
So a lot of “leg pulling” and harmless fun ensued at Ian’s expense about
supplying dodgy cuttings.
At this point I will offer my apologizes to Ian Donaldson as you can see
by the picture of my “Cutting Enigma” on the right, the 5 inch pot is
being pushed out of shape and you can see another Basal stem coming up
from the other side of the pot. This is on top of at least a dozen
cuttings I have taken and rooted.
At this point we were all in his greenhouse discussing the pro’s & cons
of various varieties and a lot of “leg pulling” took place at everyone’s
Now if you look at the picture on the left, camouflaged by a variety of
a species plant - is an important part of Ronnie’s growing technique, as
if it was not for this then he would never “be at one” with his plants
and the quality of his growing would suffer….. Yep you have guessed it,
it’s the fridge that contains the “liquid” that helps him reach the sub
conscious state he needs to be at to be “at one” with his plants.
Well the time had come to leave Ronnie’s.
Now our convoy had reached x3 cars as Jim Evans was taking Ronnie and
his better half to the show.
So the three vehicles set off from Ronnie’s at Methil and we then made
our away back to Dunfermline and Dobies Garden World at Duloch Park
where they were holding Fife flower show.
Flower Show -
On arrival we found the clash of giants
had been won by John Hamilton's entry
(left) with Ronnie Welsh coming 2nd (right) and Jim Evans taking 3rd place.
What I found unusual about this show was that they had no best bloom in
show prize – so that led to quite a bit of debate (below right) between Robert,
Kennedy, Andrew Paterson (below left) and myself. At this point we would have asked the judge,
the one and only Robert Nelson, for his opinion. However on looking for
him we found out that he had absconded early as we were told he was under
his good wife Margaret to be back home early so he could
take her out that night. So I have put a picture up of him anyway
(below right), as I
missed catching up with my good friend.
As you can see by the picture on the left the show was well supported.
Ian Donaldson was taking Jim
Gordon along the show bench explaining the
finer points of begonia growing and it seems he is interested in pot
plants. Ian is trying to get him on the show bench next year so remember
where you heard his name first.
After a good look round the Dahlia, Chrysanthemum and vegetable sections
we went for a brew and something to eat.
At this point Ian and I had a talk about who was taking who home, as
John was coming back with us I offered to take Kennedy who had left his car at Johns. This meant Ian could take David Nimmo
home then carry on his way back home to Kirkcubright.
At this point Ian and David bid their farewells and left, we then bid
farewell to Andrew Paterson. It had gone 5pm when we left to make our
way back to John’s house. We made our way back across the Forth Road
Bridge to the M9 then cut onto the M8 and on to Junction 6 where we
could get off on to the A73 and for want of better words take a short
cut along the back roads to Johns that I knew well. Just as we got past
Junction 5 we hit a traffic jam and it took us 1½ hours to get to
junction 6. The time passed quickly with the varied topics of
conversation that flowed, particularly Kennedy when he was telling us
about some experiences during his 50 years at sea as a fisherman.
We got to Johns for around 7pm and said our farewells to him and
Kennedy and then started our journey back to England.
How quick the nights are closing in now as it was dark when we set off
We got Robert Bryce safely home for around 10pm and I walked through the
front door for 1030pm.
Days Summary -
We had a great day out and the weather played its part as well as it was
blue skies and warm. I would like to take this opportunity to thank John
Hamilton and Ronnie Welsh for their hospitality as well as Ian
Donaldson, Kennedy McQuiston, David Nimmo, Jim Gordon, Jim Evans and Andrew Paterson for making it such a memorable day. I cannot say
how much humour and “mickey taking” was exchanged at
everyone’s expense. So much so we have pencilled in this trip again next
Until next time….