The National Begonia Society


 Cliff Parker's South Wales Diary 2010

14th. May to 13th. June

14th.May. My birthday today, but no rest for the wicked, I will have to replace all the broken glass in the glasshouse and go to the Hospice as usual on a Friday .This Afternoon I started to pot up the semperflorens in 9cm square pots,1500 pots will be required to set up my front garden display. This is set up in the pots as I do not have any soil in the front garden. I alter the design every year and the neighbours and the people passing my house are always intrigued with the design and always stop for a chat if I am working in the garden, which means it takes twice as long to do, but I am better at talking than gardening.
15th. May. The weather was perfect today and I managed to get the first part of the display in the front garden in place. We never seem to have frost in this part of the country after the 14th. May, but I will probably be caught out one year. But I need the space in the large poly house to start spreading my tubers and cutting tubers out a bit.
16th./ 20th. May. I have been so busy over the last few days I have not had time to do the diary. My wife has had a number of hospital appointments and the hanging basket orders are now at full pace and with only the evenings to do the planting up and the early mornings to get the watering done I am exhausted by the time I get indoors at dusk, I will have to really consider cutting down on my commitments next year things are now getting out of hand. I was told when I was young boy by the neighbour who taught me about gardening that the only thing you should never grow in the garden is tired as this will stunt your enjoyment of gardening, and this year I seemed to have stretched myself to the limit. With my wife not being well and the new hobby of growing begonias for exhibition and being area secretary it has got too much.
21st. May. Had my miserable moaning day yesterday itís out of the system now, Best day of the year so far the sun is out and the temperature is 20įC + I have been down to the hospice to plant out the flower beds and put up the hanging basketsí watched the start of the yacht race in the Bristol Channel, but one hour after the starting gun went the boats had only moved about 100 yards with the still calm summer conditions I think the race was abandoned. But with this last week of warm weather both night and day everything seems to be moving fast, and the cutting begonias and the over wintered tubers need to be checked every day to see if they need potting on. It is now 10pm I have just come in from the garden to change after doing all the watering. I have had to do it this evening as my wife and I will be going away for the day early tomorrow morning.
22nd./ 23rd. May. Spent the week-end re potting the exhibition tubers and doing a twice a day watering regime, as most of the pots are now stood in saucers it is a bit easier. But mistakes can still be made, with such a full glasshouse at present some of the over wintered tubers were placed under the bench just about out of sight. while I had been watering the Petunias and Bedding plants on the top shelve the water had penetrated to the lower level and had flooded about twenty pots, these were absolutely saturated and looking very sorry for the selves, good job the night temperatures was quite warm. I had to place the pot on the top bench to let them dry off I flagged the area with red tags to remind me not to water that section of the bench. (See Photo A)
24th. May. Other than watering had the day off to take my wife to the National Botanical Gardens of Wales in Carmarthen.
25th. May. spent all day putting the finishing touches to the hanging baskets for my customers. Now I can concentrate on getting my own garden back up to scratch, it is a disgrace at the moment with some weeds up to my waist climbing on the shrubs.
26th. May. Temperature today in the 80s/ 25F not the best day to get much done in the garden but plodded on slowly? Very slowly. But there is always tomorrow.
27th. May. Well tomorrow has come and gone and not much done in the garden, all the pots checked and watered where required. The sodden pots from the beginning of the week have all now dried out and are looking non the worst for their drowning experience but this is something I will check in the future as this could have been disastrous after the winter losses (Photo B). Had to go to the Hospice and put the gardens in order for a VIP visit by the new chairmen of Marie Curie, so another day without to much work being done on my own garden.
28th. May. In the greenhouse before 6am this morning temperature is so warm at night I needed to get up for some fresh air. The show begonia plants are looking excellent ,but the 2009 cutting tubers are far outgrowing the over wintered tubers, I donít know if this is normal as I have never grown the tubers and cutting tubers together before but as every thing looks good things must be normal. I was in the Hospice garden by 9am with my fellow volunteer, we have prepared a new herb garden for the chef and it was the day to plant it up, we manage to complete the project by 7pm A good hard days work but the wages, (a big plate of Fish & Chips and Chocolate pudding for afters) well compensated and the patients will soon have the benefit of fresh herbs in their food.
29th. May. Hoped to have a day on my garden today but I woke up to the sound of heavy rain, So I spent the morning in the glasshouse checking the growth of plants in their pots and potting on those that required it. Sun out and rain stopped while having lunch. But to wet to get among the perennials in the herbaceous border and attack the bind -weed
30th. May. Another perfect summerís day. I was in the greenhouse before 6 am and worked until 8am it was then time to wash and change ready for chapel. The afternoon was very hot but I was able to start on attacking the bind-weed .All the begonias pots are now stood in saucers, and even though it is much slower to water I find it is almost fool proof to over water and is my preferred method.
31st. May. Bank holiday Monday and the sun shone all day it is not normal for bank holidays and sunshine to clash like this, spent the morning watering the entire 75 baskets and pots at the hospice. Returned home and started the watering of my own basket and pots, I then had to make six moss hanging baskets for a local hotel, (why do people wait until the last minute to order and then expect delivery the same day) it was then time for me to cook the evening meal and then return to the hospice to do the watering again as most volunteers are not available on week-ends and bank holidays. Luckily my own greenhouses seemed to have kept quite moist and will not need watering until the morning.





1st.June. Weather made up for itís mistake of being fine on a Bank-Holiday it has lashed down with rain all day, but I managed to work in the greenhouse potting up the cuttings tubers, it is surprising how fast the are growing compared to the over-wintered tubers.
2nd./ 5th. June Heck of a lot to do but not much to report on, after the heavy rain on Tuesday the sun has come out for the rest of the week with high temperatures day and night the lowest night temperature in the glasshouse was recorded at 60įF,it has meant a lot of checking of the pots and watering when necessary not all pots require water and in some cases pots felt over watered this is why as a beginner I like to check each pot individually even though it does take up a lot of my time.
6th. June. Still extremely hot and a lot of watering required not just for the exhibition pots but for all the garden and patio containers at home and at the hospice. Quite a number of the cutting tuber plant will require potting on into their final 7inch pots by the end of the week. These will only be used as single stem restricted pots The over wintered tubers are still taking their time to fill the pots, some are still in 5inch pots and the roots have a long way to go before filling the pot. As I will be growing mainly pot plants this year I wrote to Mr Derek Telford for advice, He kindly sent me a copy of his booklet via Email. Growing Tuberous Begonias for Exhibition which has become my bible for the growing of the pots, I do have to vary some things such as compost etc but will try to stick to the book as much as possible. It is good jobs I was able to download the booklet I have worn out some of the pages already and have had to download are new set.
7th.June. Woke up this morning with a bad case of sciatica and itís was pouring with rain, the rain was needed but I could have done without the back pain. I was trying to water the plants leaning on a walking stick and using the small indoor watering can and had to walk up and down the garden path to fetch small quantities of water as I could not lift the large can. I have just started to take my first cuttings of the season I am using red labels for this years cuttings last year I used white and my over wintered tubers have a large 10inch label I hope this will help with my identification of the plants next year when I will have my two lots of cuttings since I started growing available and selection for pots or for bloom growing should be easier.
8th./9th. June. Both days were a complete waste of time with my bad back no gardening took place or the checking of the pots in the greenhouse.
10th.June. Back still stopping me from driving, but with the aid of a walking stick I did manage to start my cuttings and the potting up of the show plants into larger pots. It was quite slow and difficult working mainly with one hand whilst holding onto a walking stick but after some practice and some dropsyís I managed the task.
11th. June. I have decided to use a different coloured label for this years cuttings (I am using red) I hope this will help me to tell the difference at a later date between my last years cuttings (white labels) My tubers all have large 10inch Labels.(see Photo C) This has worked great as the last years cuttings were much larger at one stage and as I hope to use the tubers for multi stemmed pots and the cuttings for restricted stem pots and cut blooms I did not want to make a mistake and take cuttings from the tubers and turn them into single stem pots. With the back pain over the last few days I have taken my eyes off the ball and allowed mildew to take hold on a couple of plants I have removed these from the glass house I have checked all the other plants but they a clear a the moment. I hope I will be able to drive tomorrow I will then be able to go to the garden centre and get fungicide mix and spray the all. This has taught me a lesson, I will make sure next year that I have the spray in stock at the start of the growing season.
12th. June. Managed to get to the garden centre and purchased the fungicide I have arrange the pots in the net house with a space at each end of the bench for 8 pots, this means that when if start treating the plants with the fungicide tomorrow I can move the plants down two spaces and keep the area between pots clear to save knocking them over and damaging them.
13th. June all plants sprayed today, took a long time but I hope to avoid any more mildew problems all the plants look good (Photo D) but I will have to be more vigilant. I have also opened up the back of the net house by removing the polythene used for winter protection, the polythen will remain on the front of the net house because the prevailing wind whips the rain in through the net, but as the window opening is 1metres wide and 11/2 metres high and swings open at the bottom I can keep the area aired without the rain damaging the blooms.

14th. June to 13th. July
14th. April to 13th. May     14th. March to 13th.April     14th. February to 13th.March
    19th. December - 13th.February

The South Wales Area          South Wales Area Show 2009