The National Begonia Society


 Cliff Parker's South Wales Diary 2010

14th. June to 13th. July

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 Nailsea.
 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. 

14th. to 19th. June. Active 5 days in the greenhouse and the garden, my back is feeling a lot better and so the work goes on.
All the exhibition pots need a daily check as oyster buds seem to appear over night and also cuttings need to be taken or side shoots removed. The mildew on the plants seems to be cleared up now and the plants are looking good. I was hoping to grow mainly pots for showing this year, but just in case my back does not permit me to carry heavy pots I have decided to grow 50/50 pots and blooms so that I can at least show something at my chosen shows. The only problem with my own show, as I am show sec. I found last year (my first year) I was interrupted so much with other exhibitors problems and queries I did not have time to stage my own blooms properly, but if I take pots I can stage these the evening before. As I live 50 miles from the show venue it was dark when I got home from setting up the show and dark in the morning of the show I had to cut all the blooms in the dark using a torch.
20th. June. Whatís gone wrong with the weather? The first day of Wimbledon and the Glastonbury festival week and the weather is extremely hot and dry, not a patch of mud for Glastonbury, Seriously the weather is playing havoc with the plants, watering needs to be done a least twice a day and I have fans in the net -house, even with the open sides, in the morning and early afternoon the temperature is reaching in the 27-29įc. 80įf but most of the plants are growing well and should be going into their final pots by the end of the week. 23rd. June. Weather still dry and extremely hot ,apart from watering the plants it is too hot and the ground is too dry to dig or do much work on re-landscaping the garden.  But the window boxes and hanging baskets at home and at the hospice are keeping me well occupied at the moment,
24th./25th. June. Still a struggle to keep up with the watering and the potting on of the exhibition plants and checking for buds under the foliage, they seem to shoot up overnight. I have just received my order for Vine weevil control Nematodes (Heterorhabditis Megidis) Iím not clever I read it on the pack. They arrived a bit early but as they must not be used until the middle of July. The instruction say they can be kept in the fridge until then so they should be OK. I did not order my JI2 compost with vine weevil control in this year as some of the compost is used at the hospice by the volunteers on the vegetable and herb gardens,
26th. June. Done all the watering and started the final potting on, mid day had to get away from the heat and so I finished the 2010 show schedule and will start the printing this week-end ready for distribution to the members and the show judges on the 1st July.
27th. to 31st. June. The temperature is still way above average and not a lot of work getting done in the glass house, just the watering and the taking off the flowers potting up is being done out doors, but a lot of the tuber plants are very slow growing, but the cuttings from last year are romping away and should give me some pots and blooms for this season.
27th. to 31st. June. The temperature is still way above average and not a lot of work getting done in the glass house, just the watering and the taking off the flowers potting up is being done out doors, but a lot of the tuber plants are very slow growing, but the cuttings from last year are romping away and should give me some pots and blooms for this season.





1st. July. The weather forecast states rain today but up until this evening none had materialised but it looks as if it might tonight.
2nd. July. The heavens opened last night and filled my water butts to the top,( both were completely empty) and I was having to used tap water for the plants, something I have not done for more than five years. I had a good afternoon and evening potting on my plants most but not all are now in 7inch pots and most will stay in this size but I have about 40 that will have to go up to 8inch by the week-end.
3rd. July. Spent the morning at the hospice. And the afternoon and evening in the garden at home. the potting up is going quite well, but I have not yet got used to of having so many plants growing and I am finding it difficult to keep up with the disbudding and many of the plants have rather large oyster buds before I notice them I remove immediately and I hope that I have not caused any damage to the final plant.2 good working days = equals 1 bad back I will now have to take it steady for the next day or so.
4th./5th. July. Spent most of the last couple of days watering and potting up. This hot weather might be nice for holiday makers but is making hard work for us pot plant growers with the constant watering.
6/8th. July. We have still only had the one down pour in the last month in this area the water buts are starting to get low again. I donít know if it is the temperature but the exhibition plants are quite erratic in their growth some have grow really well and are in their final pots while other are still in 5Ĺ inch pots, the over wintered tubers seem to be affected the most.
9th. July. Another day at the hospice, with the garden party in three weeks time a lot of hedge trimming and path cleaning needs to be done.
10th. July. Itís surprising how things can deteriorate if you take your eye off the ball, Thursday morning I took photographs of the baskets and window boxes on the front of my house, today when I was leaving the house to go to the garden centre for more compost I noticed that in one window box the Flamboyant begonias had collapsed and were covered with mildew. See Photo (A) I have not been able to lift the ladder because of my bad back and will have to wait until my son arrives for lunch tomorrow to get the ladder up for me to use a fungicidal spray, the baskets and boxes are watered daily and so it is not stress due to lack of water, but over the last couple of days the temperature has been very high day and night and very humid.
11th. July. Have now finished my selection process for the forth coming shows, I have had to reject more than 50 of my 120 pots has they have not made sufficient growth. I have now labelled the pots ready to indicate which show I hope to enter them in using different coloured labels. See Photo (B) and made a chart with the appropriate show date and stopping and feeding dates. Last year I made a number of mistakes and disbudded the wrong plants I hope this will be avoided this year. All the Bloom plants are on one set of staging, the restricted pots on another and the Multi stem on the third.
12th. July. I have now managed to get a ladder up to the window boxes to check the mildew damage see Photo (C) I have given them a good spray with the fungicide but I think it is to late and I may have to remove the window boxes. I have now moved all the pots of plants that have been rejected for this seasons show benches to my glasshouse where they will be fed and allowed to flower and with a bit of luck will produce good tubers for next year.
13th. July. Well the rain has arrived all night long it has been throwing it down. The Flamboyant plant in the window boxes still look rather sorry for themselves but I will leave them until the week-end (4 days time) to see if there is any improvement before I risk getting the ladder out again and removing them. I must now start to put more effort into the show plants Photo (D) as it is only six weeks this week-end to the  South Wales Area Show

14th.May to 13th. June
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