The National Begonia Society


 Cliff Parker's South Wales Diary 2010

14th. January to 13th. February

14th. January  to 13th. February




14th. January  What a difference a day makes, yesterday six inches of snow on the ground and freezing temperatures. Today snow almost completely gone and the temperature up to 8c. I suppose the is a benefit of living within half a mile from the sea, the down size is with the easterly winds in winter the air temperature is extremely cold, and in the summer the westerly winds bring salt laden air into the hospice gardens restricting the type of plants I can grow in the garden and hanging baskets. (The Hospice gardens are on the cliff tops only 500 yards from the sea).
21st.  January  No real change at night still very cold with the pond remaining frozen, but the days are quite nice although it remains very cold and the pond has not lost its icecap for more the two weeks now.
25th. January (A) Decided to start my small cuttings tubers that were taken later in the season, when I say start they were not really dormant but had remained in the 7cm plastic pots that they were grown in, but had died down early December. They remain in the original pots and have been put in the propagator on a temperature of 15c, they have also been covered with a layer of peat. I am not sure if this is the correct way but we will soon find out.
 (B) The larger cuttings tubers that were growing in the 4 inch pots will be started later in the month.
 (C) I have also put some of my Le Flamboyant tubers on the sand bed to try and get some extra cuttings for the window box display I have planned for the summer.
31st. January. Very cold today, unable to work on the frozen garden, and not enough work in the small warm glasshouse as all the propagating space is being used. I decided to spend one hour sitting by the window in the kitchen from 10am to 11am and conduct the RSPB bird watch, I must say this was the most pleasant hour I have spent for a long time, the hours passed as quick as my hour lunch break used to pass when I was working.
10 species of bird were spotted on my bird feeder during this hour.
February 1st. seems to be carrying the winter forward, extremely cold last night with my outdoor max/min thermometer showing a low of - 6c.
February 2nd. to 7th. What a change in the weather it seems almost spring like for the last four days, the Acers in my Oriental style garden have started to show the buds swelling and the fish have started to swim near the surface in the long pond. Down at the Hospice gardens all the basket and displays of Winter flowering pansies and the garden displays of Cyclamen, Wallflowers, and Sweet William have picked up from the sad state of being frozen solid and all look good with new flowers showing after an hour spent dead heading the mushy mess left after the frost. At last we might be starting to see the beginning of spring.
(D) (E) As you can see by this photo the hospice is situated on the cliff top, and on a good day it is a pleasure to work in the gardens. All the garden features have been created over the last four years since my retirement with the help of a generous financial backer and hard graft by the volunteer team from a very boring lawn and shrubs.





February 8th. Should have kept my mouth shut, Weather has turned for the worst today extremely cold with a North Easterly wind and flurries of snow. When will we be able to start talking Begonias. I received a large delivery of plants for my wife`s nature garden to help the birds and the bumble bees, after spending a couple of hours unpacking the plants and labelling them up in the cold glasshouse my fingers felt as if the were about to drop off.
My wife had attended a lecture at the local Horticultural Society on the decreasing number of bumble bees and the lecturer had informed the meeting that flowers such as the Large Flowered Begonias and other double type flowers did not help the bees to get pollen and nectar. Hence the new plants nature garden.
(F) The first half tray of the ruffled has produced 160 seedlings seen here in small sectioned container trays, the Picottee`s don`t seem to be doing so well and will only give me about 100 seedlings from the whole packet. But not a bad result from my first attempt to propagate from seed.
 February 11th. Woke up early this morning to a spectacular fine morning, had breakfast and decided to tackle the tidying up of the nature garden ready to put in the newly arrived plants. What a shock I had when I went outdoors, it felt like the North pole The outdoor thermometer recording minus 4c but with the biting easterly wind felt like minus 20. I tried to carry on but everything was frozen solid even the spade was frozen in the ground, another couple of hours spent in the greenhouse and the indoors to catch up with this months web diary.
(G) This is some of my foliage begonias that have been really neglected under the staging. They seemed to have survived well, as normally in my short couple of years in trying to grow them through the winter they normally die back and defoliate.
(H) This is one of my cane begonias I was advised to cut back to the first node on each stem before putting away for the winter, it looks a disaster, will it come back as I am a complete novice and cannot find much info on cane begonias. Can somebody contact me and advise
 February 13th. Sun out clear fine day but the wind is absolutely biting cold, have decided to stay in the greenhouse and bring my over wintered corms out of hibernation and check them over to see how many had succumbed to the frosting at the beginning of December. I found 14 had completely rotted to a brown mess 1 was dodgy, I have cut out the brown to a pink section of the corm and dusted with Sulphur powder, I would not have bothered but it is the only one of that variety I have, why couldn`t it have been a Mrs Mc I have dozens of these. Ho well let hope the next month of my diary will show more of good Spring weather and more Begonia growing and less moaning about the harsh winter.


14th. December 2009 to 13th. January 2010

Some of the frosted tubers drying out.

Tubers stored in bags.

Half seed tray of Basket Begonia seedlings.

View of the large propagator.

19th. December a disaster this morning. On checking my covered growing area where my 54 pots were still dying down due to the very mild Autumn I found that the temperature had dropped to -8c overnight and all the plant were well and truly blackened and the foliage had fallen, luckily I had put fleece over them the night before as a precaution even though frost had not been forecast. Most of the pots were completely frozen on the top of the compost but in most cases the soil in the pots was still soft. I will have to wait and see if the frost damaged many tubers.(Photo A)
  26th. December all the tubers have now been harvested and most are dry enough to be cleaned and put to bed, some look as if the will not survive the dormancy as when I removed the stem scab there was brown line in the tuber flesh, but all have been dusted with Sulphur powder and placed into individual paper bags has I have always done with my Dutch garden tubers (each tuber labelled and the names on the bags a puff of sulphur is also squirted into each bag. will check regularly and discard the rotting tubers if any. And start looking for replacements if needed. (Photo B)
 1st. January 2010. Sowed my Christmas present today (I had seeds of Hanging basket begonias from Antonelli Bros in America) 200 Ruffled, and 200 Picottee these have been sown in my propagator indoors in an alcove at the top of the stairs to save heat in the glass house
 (Photo C)
6th. January
at least six inches of snow on the ground this morning. (over the tops of my wellingtons with the drifting in front of the greenhouse door).
8th. January Have now started up one of my heat mats with a clotch covering it is 2 mts long and metre wide this is needed to sow my 500 geranium seeds that will be sold to fund my begonia displays at the Hospice and cover most of my greenhouse heating bill. (Photo D)
 I hope to see warmer weather soon we have had 20 days of below 0c temperature and the heating has been on in the greenhouse to keep the inside at 5c not good for the bank balance.
13th. January Woke up to even more snow about 5 inches had fallen over night, but the very cold NE wind has gone and it now feels a lot warmer but still about freezing. The Geranium seeds seem to be in a great hurry to germinate and about half of the first 250 have germinated in the propagator.

Also the Basket Begonia seeds in my indoor propagator have started to germinate.
My foliage begonias i.e. Beg Rex and Cane types have managed to get through the winter so far in full leaf, They are stashed away under one of my benches in the greenhouse and have more or less been forgotten, in other years I have tended to mollycoddle them and by this stage all the leaves would have fallen off   .

 14th. June to 13th. July    14th. April to 13th.May
14th. March to 13th.April     14th. February to 13th.March
The South Wales Area          South Wales Area Show 2009