Parker's South Wales Diary
February to 13th. March
I am retired now after spending twenty years as a maintenance man at
my local Marie Curie Hospice.
I first became aware of Begonias in 1991 (I think,) I was at the
Kings Heath Flower show to visit the National carnation show that was
being held there, in the same marquee I came across the Begonia show and
was captivated by the amazing colours compared to the colour range of my
carnation collection. I spoke to a number of people on the begonia
display area and my wife bought me a book on begonias written by Eric
Catterall, who was at the show selling the books and I said to my wife
one day I will grow Begonias instead of Carnations. Even though I gave
up growing carnations in 1993 it was 10 years later that I started to
grow Begonias in any quantity for my garden displays, I been looking
after the gardens at the hospice as a volunteer gardener in my spare
time and decided that some of the flower beds at the front of the
Hospice needed to be brightened up and some of the shrubs were now ten
years old and looking tired, but as no money was available to plant up
new gardens was available I knew that I would have to raise money myself
to pay for the bedding plants and so I purchased my first Beg Semp plugs
from Gardening direct (about 1000 I think) I grew them on and sold 500
to cover the cost of purchase and planted up the rest in the Hospice
gardens. My love for the Begonia was born, over the years I increased
the varieties to include the Dutch doubles for pots on the patios and
trailing for hanging baskets and for displays in my own gardens at home.
It was not until 2006 that I joined the National Begonia Society,
and my first contact with any members was at the South West Area meeting
at Nailsea in 2007.
In November 2008 Myself and the South Wales area rep Ian Rhys
Williams decided to try and start a South Wales Area group for people
living in the West of Wales who was finding it to far to travel to
Hence the South Wales Area was born. and I was elected the
Local area secretary.
I had still not grown any exhibition begonias at this stage as my
main interest is still Begonia displays in my garden and the hospice
gardens which have won the Penarth in Bloom completion so often now we
have been asked to stand down from entering for the next couple of years
to give other nursing homes a chance, but the displays will still go on.
But in 2010 I will grow a number of exhibition pots for three
Shows in 1 Bideford. 2 our own South Wales Show. And if I can afford the
transport costs the National in Birmingham,
I did attempt to grow a few cut blooms for our first South Wales
Area show and managed to get a few seconds in various novice classes and
will try to do better next season, but my pot plants were abysmal I will
concentrate on getting my pot plants up to scratch in 2010.
My 2010 diary will cover mainly my growing of the
garden displays at home and at the Hospice and a record of how my pot
plants turn out at the various shows I have mentioned.
February to 13th.March
February 14th. to 16th. feels like spring very
mild but dull, all the over wintered tubers now on the to bench with no
heat mat but the glasshouse is kept at 100įc, I hope I donít lose any
more through the earlier frosting. Still very mild but dull more or less
up to date in the greenhouse for a couple of days. Unable to work in the
garden had to take my wife out for the day, as she is an invalid I try
to keep Mondays free to take her for a day out. And have lunch
somewhere. In the summer I then have time to work in the garden in the
evening but the winter days are too short to do anything other than
check the greenhouse in the morning. Woke up this morning to the first
really wet day of the year, but very mild the frogs have taken over the
fish pond it is already showing the first frog spawn much to the delight
of the fish, they all seem to swimming around with a smile on their
faces thinking what a banquet we have. The nature pond which is a safe
haven for the frogs, toads, and newts is still devoid of any frogs. I
will have to net up the spawn and move it over to the nature pond.
February 17th. another very wet morning, decided to
stay in the greenhouse and knock my small late cuttings out of their
pots to see if they had survived the winter. As these cutting were taken
after July up to the end of August I was not sure if the tuber would be
large enough to survive as I have never taken cutting before last
season. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that out of the 80
cuttings taken only 14 had failed to survive, this is a good start to my
2010 season. I will knock out the early cuttings tomorrow, these
were taken in April, May,and June and had made good plants in 4Ĺ inch
pots by the end of last season.
Slide A the small late cuttings.
February 18th. Day started well not to cold and a nice
blue sky. I decided to carry on with tidying the garden after the winter
ravages. By10am the sky had turned grey and a slight flurry of snow
started, within one hour we had 4inches of snow on the ground bang went
my good day of tidying up the garden, back into the greenhouse, but
there is only so much that can be done in there at the moment. But at
last the Sutherlandii seeds are starting to emerge. Letís hope for a
better result than last year when I had a 100% germination but when I
pricked them out they failed within a couple of weeks, this year I have
sown the seed in peat pots and so I should not have to prick the out, I
will let them grow on for as long as possible before I have to re-pot
Slide B the Sutherlandii seeds.
February 20th. This must be the best day of the year
so far, but apart from checking the greenhouse early this morning I have
spent the day indoors painting and wall papering the Front entrance
hall, landing and stairs, I had promised my wife I would spend all the
Saturdays in February decorating the house. (I donít have many spare
week-days) in the winter months as I play Bowls three days a week. Well
at least there is only one Saturday left in this month and I will then
be able to relax.
February 21st. So bitterly cold I spent the morning in
the greenhouse I knocked all my early cuttings (taken April Ė May) out
of the 4inch pots they were in and scraped all the compost off the roots
and checked for Vine weevil grubs, only found three in three pots so the
precaution taken to drench with Provado in September and the use of
Sinclairís JI 3 with added protection in the growing season seems to
have paid off. Out of 89 pots 31 were completely rotted away all the
others have started to shoot. This was not planned to be so early but I
had put the large heating mat on. this is 21/2 metres long X 1mtr wide
to getting my Geranium seedlings growing, and forgot the pots were on
the far end but I think this will be a bonus later in the season as I
lost a number of old tubers through frost penetration. Some of the
cuttings might make single blooms for the coming season. February 22nd
Still bitterly cold so apart from checking the greenhouse I took my wife
out to buy some fish for her aquarium and went out to lunch. February 23
Still bitterly cold and more snow. Did not last long but then turned to
icy cold rain stayed indoors except for the misting of the seedlings in
the greenhouse February 24/25 very mild on both these days and nights
but very wet everything in the greenhouse seems to be coming to life,
the garden pond is full of frogs and the noise from them at night is
tremendous, even my neighbour has commented but apart from telling the
frog to keep their amorous activities down there is nothing I can do.
February 26th. Day started of great very mid and sunny, Friday is
my day at the hospice I managed to fill up the fountain after cleaning
out the winter debris and got it running I now believe spring is just
around the corner.
More fool me by 11am a strong Northerly wind developed and sleet and
rain came crashing down, at 2pm I decided to call it a day and go home
to my warm greenhouse only to find that the Northerly wind had taken
four corrugated plastic sheets off of my potting area two were smashed
to pieces where the screws had held but the plastic was not strong
enough the other two I have not found yet, I have got to go shopping,
will look for them tomorrow (Saturday).
February 27th. Spent the day cleaning out the nature
pond, in the course of the week I discovered dozens of dead frogs in the
pond and all the frog spawn had disappeared I sent sample to my local
conservation group and the reply stated that the mortality rate for
frogs this year it tremendous and the problem must be put down to the
long cold winter. Surprisingly the long fish pond which has water
running 24/7 did not freeze completely and no dead frogs have been found
in this pond and there is a tremendous amount of frog spawn.
February 28th. Today I potted up a lot of my foliage
Begonias into a supply of clay pots I was given. These pots had not seen
the light of day for 60 years according to the lady who asked me to
clear out the basement cellar of her house, She can remember her
grand-father using them but when he died they were just left in the
basement, this lady is now too old to stay in the house and is going
into a nursing home. Every thing in the garden seems to be sprouting
well letís hope spring is coming.
March 1st. Best day of the year so far weather wise,
Sun shining and the temperature in double figures. Started on the nature
gardenís new stream and caught up the greenhouse work. I nearly killed
myself I should not go at things like a bull at a gate on the first sign
of good weather.
March 2nd., 3rd., 4th. the last three days
have been glorious and plenty of work done on the garden, and in the
glasshouse. All the begonia cuttings taken last year and sorted by me a
week ago and re-potted have now sprouted through the compost and are
growing fast. Quite a number of these will be given to the new members
who joined the N B S this year and we promised a tuber to for the
Slide C cuttings tubers in 4inch pots.
March 5th. Friday is my volunteer day at the hospice
it has been a real spring day I was able to pot up the first delivery of
plugs for the garden displays. A total of 800 plugs consisting of a
mixture of Begonia Semps, Impatiens and Petunias. All the five boxes
were paid for as a donation from a relative of a patient last December
and at a cost of £9.99 for a tray of 160 plugs the total cost of less
than £50.00 for the 800 plants I think is a great value for money and I
hope when I ask the donor to return in the summer to see the garden
display she will be very pleased.
Slide D some of the plug plants from donation.
March 6th. Another
glorious day. Many hours spent trying to make space in the heated
greenhouse, A delivery of over 1000 Begonia Nonstop plugs arrived a week
earlier than I thought I had planned, managed to fit them all in but
will now have to start on the potting on.
Slide E 1000 Non stop plugs.
March 9th. the last week has been as perfect as we could
have expected for this time of the year frosty at night resulting in the
nature pond being frozen in the morning. And the heater in the
greenhouse trying to keep the temperature at about 8įc. and the money
flowing from my pocket to keep the greenhouse frost free. But at least
it is full to capacity with plugs and plants and cuttings for the coming
March 10th. Started to pot on the Non Stop Begonia
plugs today into tray inserts of 20 to a tray, this may seem a small pot
up size but I find that at this time of the year when they have to go
into a cold greenhouse and the only protection is a fleece covering the
less compost to hold moisture the better, I will re-pot them in a couple
of weeks into 7cm. individual pots ready for sale in May.
Slide F Begonia plugs potted up. As can be seen the fleece is
stapled to the edge of the staging and pulled down in the day time and
then it is easy to cover the plants in the evening, it also hides all
the junk under the benches, such as all my seed trays and inserts and
the lawn mower. The nonstops are on the right hand side of the staging
and the Illuminations on the left. Also I am trying some new varieties
such as Begonia Super Star, the photos in the catalogue looked good but
the plugs seem a bit leggy and look similar to dragon wings that I tried
a couple of years ago and were quite disappointing, to much leaf and not
enough flower. If anyone has had better results please let me know?
March 13th. Spring has arrived also all my
plugs as seen in the slides including the 5250 begonia semps
Slide G. It seems so easy in the
winter when I design my garden displays for the coming season but when
the plugs start to arrive I start to wonder if I have done the right
thing. Oh well plenty of time will be spent this week-end potting up But
itís great that the spring seems to arrive and I can talk about Begonias
instead of just chit chat.
Slide H is a shot from the door of
my 10ft heated greenhouse showing my Begonia Rex and a propagator under
the bench containing my first attempt at propagating Rex leaf cuttings.
14th. June to 13th.
April to 13th.May
March to 13th.April 19th. December - 13th.February
The South Wales Area
South Wales Area Show 2009