The National Begonia Society



Michael Richardson's Diary  2016

National Society Cut bloom Champion 2014

Michael's 2015 Diary



2016 Diary Episode 4  Back on the road - Excursions 1,2 & 3

Sunday 14th February –
The Start -
Picture the scene – It’s Sunday morning and I had a day off work, I had just rolled over in a nice warm bed buried under a duvet after just fluffing my pillows. In the background I could hear a Robin trying to scare off a Blackbird in a noisy territory dispute in the back garden – life could have not been better. Then I heard my mobile go off signalling someone had texted me, I rolled over and opened a heavy eyelid and looked at my alarm clock, and it was nearly 07:30hrs. With not being used to receiving a text early in the day I thought I better have a look. I was surprised to see it was Dave Weatherby.
Then the penny dropped, it was Scottish Begonia Society's first meeting of the year and I had arranged to meet Vincent Potts at 07:00hrs and then pick Dave Weatherby up at 07:30hrs.
So whilst trying to multi task by getting dressed finding my keys and trying to phone Vincent all at the same time I stumbled out of the door and set off for Vincent’s home where I arrived at approx. 08:10am, then we both left to collect Dave. We arrived at the Tickle Trout to collect Dave then left the services by the Tickle Trout pub at about 08:30am. We pointed the car south and I planted the accelerator into the floor to try and make up some lost time.
The Drive -
The drive up was fantastic with the outside temperature not really climbing above 0°c all the way up, the skies were sky blue with everything covered in frost and the hill tops through Cumbria and Beattock covered in snow.
Whilst going through Beattock Vincent asked what speed we were travelling at and complimenting how comfortable it was travelling at 70mph, he was surprised to find we had not dropped below “4 score and 10” all the way up, Ian (the Flying Scotsman) Donaldson would have been proud of me….
Robert Nelson -
We pulled into Robert Nelson's Driveway for just before 10:45hrs, we certainly had made up a lot of the time we lost due to my lay in.
It was at this point it dawned on me that I had forgotten my camera in the rush to get out of my front door. So you will have to forgive me for the lack of pictures to accompany this article.

We met Robert round the back of his house next to a pile of cut logs from some of the trees he has had “trimmed” back. Vincent had arranged with Robert to keep some logs back for his wood working hobby, the only problem was we had to fit them in the boot of the car so the 4 off us filled up the boot with half the pile, the other half we will collect on the next trip. The price for this was x2 fruit bowls made from the logs – 1 for Robert who got him the wood and 1 for me for carrying “contraband” wood back across the border.
We were given a guided tour of his greenhouses so he could show us where he was up to. All his tubers had been put in and there was nothing showing apart from the odd pip poking through the surface of the compost.
However it was a different story in one of his smaller propagator units in his main propagating greenhouse where he had some tubers that must have had about 8inches of growth on top of them. Our jaws hit the floor at how advanced they were, Robert explained that once again he was trying to grow some flowers for the Ingliston Show.
Then we adjourned to Roberts’s kitchen for a bacon or sausage roll and a pot of tea – Vincent and Dave also had a piece of rhubarb pie and coconut cream cake… Me, I was being good and just ate the last 2 coffee biscuits that Robert “P.Hollywood” Nelson had made by his own fair hand. They were that good I put an order in to collect some when we come up for the next Scottish meeting.
We left at just before 12:00hrs so Robert could get to the Scottish Begonia Society as he was President of the SBS and did not want to be late for his first committee meeting as President. As Robert turned into the Springfield Community Centre we carried on driving as we were off to a new place we had never been to.
Samuel & Elizabeth Kennedy -
We left Robert at the meeting hall and carried on for another couple of miles to Plains and Samuel and Elizabeth Kennedy's home.
On arrival we found Samuel had just got back from a job so we had a quick chat with Elizabeth before she left for the committee meeting.
Samuel showed us his 1st greenhouse at the side of his house that was well insulated and was heated by the old style metal heating pipes on the floor. Whilst the plants stored under the benches were stood on heated blankets.
He explained that he had about 40 types of Species and a number of Canes and Hybrids – as you can see from the pictures to the right and left.
You learn something new every day – The 40 types of Species that Samuel has, have been found in the wild and named over a long period of time. Now if you cross a pair of named species any offspring that are produced will be classed as a hybrid.
Under his benches he had plants whose stems have been cut and the wound sealed with what looked like white glue….. Samuel explained that he had cut back his Canes and then melted Bees Wax on the top of where he had cut the stem. Why you might ask…. and we did ask – it was explained to us that when you cut the stem of a Cane the sap just keeps leaking out and running down the stem and in turn causes the plant to die.
He had a number of trays just sat on his benches with just sphagnum moss in them, and sticking out of the moss were parts of leaves and stems. Again when Samuel saw a bemused look on all our faces he once again kindly explained that he uses sphagnum moss for rooting leaf cuttings. For example - He takes a leaf cutting and grabs a handful of sphagnum moss and wraps it around the bottom part of the stem then puts it back in the tray and keeps it damp. With the sphagnum moss being slightly acidic it helps keep infections away whilst roots form at the base of the stem.
I am going to try rooting a few leaf cuttings later on in the year using Samuel’s method.
Please see some more of the colour they had in their “small” greenhouse to the left and right.

He then showed us his 2nd greenhouse – this had to be the biggest greenhouse I had ever visited in someone’s back garden.
He had 3 hotbox units being used –
    1. The first was approx. 20ft long and was full of soil in the process of being sterilized.
    2. The second was again 20ft long and one was full of stacked pots containing a LOT of outside bedding begonias – the heat was on low, this gently trickled from the hotbox through the pots. They have now all been taken out of their pots and planted into the hotbox they were stood on (see picture to the right).
    3. And the 3rd hotbox was 30ft long, and was wired up in a way that only certain sections could be used. At present he had 2 parts of hotbox in use – the first part was filled with a number of trays containing seeds he had hybridised by crossing his Species plants (see the picture to the left), and the second part contained Double Tuberous Begonias part buried in compost to get them going.
Across the back was a homemade propagating unit them he was using to over winter a number of pots of varieties types of begonias.

Two hours passed very quickly and we had to make a move to get to the meeting, so after thanking Samuel for his hospitality we drove the short distance back to Springfield Community Centre.
I would like to thank Samuel and Elizabeth for sending me some pictures they had took after we left since I forgot my camera.
The SBS meeting –
After Robert Nelson's first address as President up stepped the master himself John Hamilton to give a talk in 3 parts – the 1st on Starting up Tubers the 2nd on his favourite varieties of Begonias and why. Then we stopped and had a break for a warm beverage and a biscuit and spent time catching up with some old friends. When John resumed with the 3rd part of his talk he invited all present to ask him anything begonia related.
His talk was well received by all.
The Journey Back –
The meeting finished a little earlier than normal, so after our farewells we managed to get away for 16:45hrs. We had a fairly uneventful drive home and dropped Dave back at has car then I dropped Vincent at his house for approx. 19:30hrs and I walked through my front door for just before 20:00hrs.

The National Begonia Society AGM excursion
Saturday 20th February –
The Start
It may come as surprise to some of you out there but I managed to get up in time for this trip. Mind you it did help as Vincent Potts was not due to be at my house until 10am.
He arrived on time and we put his gear into the boot of the car and set off.
The Drive
Today we had to make the dreaded journey south and that meant that cursed road itself, no not Highway to Hell (the classic AC/DC song of course) but the motorway which is damned - the M6.
Apart from 10 minute delay due to traffic congestion getting on to the M6 due to road works we pretty much had a good drive down – we actually went on 6 motorways to do the 120 miles to the meeting for the AGM – M66, M60, M56, M6, M5, M42
The Arrival
We arrived after the committee meeting had finished and found everyone was milling around either chatting or with a drink in their hand.
Before we could get our bearings Clifford Hurst ambushed us for raffle tickets.
It was great to catch up with the likes of Ron Aldous, Barry Walker, John Chiswell, Peter Sourbutts, John Winfield and Gary Dando to name but just a few.
The minutes will be well documented in the member’s only section of this website, so I am not really going to touch on it.
The picture to the right shows the membership breaking up for a brew and a biscuit.
At this point I will mention the Robert Bryce’s better half Joan Bryce single handily kept everyone going with brews and biscuits.
I met and chatted to Danny Davies & Clifford Hurst.
A presentation by Mr R.Bryce
To finish off the day Mr Bryce gave a presentation – Around the Shows 2015.
He went through the National Flower Show, Southport Flower Show & the Scottish Begonia Society Show at Ayr in depth.
To finish
Now Peter Sourbutts, Robert Bryce and myself may have somehow managed to “strong arm” our way into some 3 possible new days out to visit up to 6 unsuspected growers and their greenhouses.
If they happen, I will be armed with my camera, pen and note pad.
On top of this John Winfield kindly asked if I would like to go to Ball Colgrave again – after last year how could I say no. The one additional item I will take this time is doggy poo bags… Why!!!! Ask Mr. Bryce.
The Journey Back –
We managed to have a good run back until we hit Stoke, and from then on it bounced it down with rain all the way back home.

It was great to catch up with everyone after the winter break, now it feels like the growing season is up and running again.

The final word has to come from John Chiswell who told me that he was taking cuttings already…..

Just for Interest –
Wednesday 24th February
Today Vincent Potts and I had a quick trip out to Stock Lane Nurseries Open Day and the following may be of interest to you all.
If you remember the article I wrote on our trip Ball Colegrave in 2015 I mentioned x2 new Begonia Series on show –
• Begonia Northern Lights
• Begonia Sweet Spice
Well guess what, these x2 series have been released for general sale as they were being advertised for availability later in the year.
Begonia Northern Lights – Gold, Pink, Pink Burst, Scarlet, Scarlet Burst \– and the picture to the left I showed last year of Begonia Northern Lights Lemon.
Begonia Sweet Spice – English Rose – and the picture to the right I showed last year of Begonia Sweet Spice Citrus (and yes they do have a scent).

Until next time….    


Michael's 2016 Diary