telephone from a member of the affectingly named “Radstock Mafia”
that an informal get
together was being suddenly convened how could
I refuse to attend? Accompanied by my neighbour Tony Willoughby
from Nailsea we
were joined by Lakin Earl (third from left) from Highbridge, Somerset, on Monday 9th
The first couple of hours were spent with Lakin in our own
greenhouses and gardens picking up many useful tips as usual.
Overall the verdict seems to be “getting better but could still get
better”! We both picked up numerous tips from Lakin’s 40 years
experience in not only growing begonias, but horticulture generally.
Then it was off to Midsomer Norton as a first stop. However, while
journeying through the Chew Valley, we decided to take a detour and
call in and see Blackmore & Langdon at Pensford, Somerset. We met
up with both John and Rosemary Langdon and congratulated them on
their silver gilt at Chelsea. With constraints on time and staffing
B&L now only exhibit at Chelsea and 4 other major RHS shows.
The journey continued, not as we thought, to Midsomer Norton, but
to Chilcompton a mile or so away. There we met up with John
Chiswell (second from left), National Blooms Champion last year, who had already been
joined by Don Dewey (left) from Little Stoke, Bristol. JC has facilities
for an extensive shade house at Chilcompton. There were many plants
but no blooms – yet. How many John? A quick count on the night
revealed 720. Of these 100 plus were seedlings, a
further 60 are being
grown for the
South Coast Show at Porchester 4thand 5th
August, with the rest for
The National Show.
It was interesting to note that this year JC
has used natural predators (Amblyseius cucumeris) as a precaution
against the dreaded mite. Also, there was no trace of any current
cutting tubers. When questioned, JC told us these are now
propagated at his home. How many does he take? John’s reply was
“125 today”! Keep up to date with JC’s way of growing by viewing
The Champions Diary 2007 on this web site.
Then it was down the hill to meet up with
Gary Dando. Gary has been growing begonias for some 12 years and
prior to that he grew chrysanthemums as did JC. In fact he is still
Chairman of the North Somerset Dahlia and Chrysanthemum Society,
where he is a also a judge.
Gary grows single stem plants that he has historically exhibited at
Bristol Flower Show. However, in 2004 he switched the prestigious
National Amateur Garden Show held in early September at the Bath and
West of England show ground at Shepton Mallet where he has been
awarded best in show on two occasions so far. Since he has now
“retired” he has been persuaded to put on a small exhibit at the
Taunton Flower Show, described as the Chelsea of the West, on 3rd
and 4th August. Like JC he is hoping to have a few
blooms ready by the first week end in August.
Although there were no show blooms to see
there was a stunning display of pendulas in pedestal baskets on the
garden down to the greenhouses. These have survived the weather, so
far, and will be used as spot highlights on his exhibits.
The evening finished with a general chit chat while enjoying a cup
of tea and home made fruit bread and sponge cake supplied by Gary’s
wife, Joy, before wending out way home through the lanes of
Somerset. A good afternoon and evening was had by all.