The National Begonia Society



Michael Richardson's Diary  2016

National Society Cut bloom Champion 2014

Michael's 2015 Diary


2016 Diary Episode 13 

Saturday 17th September - The yearly pilgrimage
With this section it would be handy to have a map of Scotland at hand to trace our steps.
Today's the day I made what has become an annual pilgrimage to Fife Flower Show via Ronnie Welsh’s home in Methil. I was also flying solo today as Mr Bryce was on a family holiday & Mr Weatherby was in Ireland fishing.
The venue had moved to a church hall in Burntisland as Doobies in Dunfermline wanted to use the previous Show area for storing all their Christmas “tat” as my old man use to call it.
Because I was travelling alone I phoned John Hamilton earlier in the week to see what his plans were, and if he was showing I asked if he wanted me to pick him and his flowers up and take them to the venue and once staged make our way to Ronnie’s.
On Thursday John phoned back and asked me to be at his house for 10am as we would be going up with Bob Robertson who would do the driving and that would give me a break, he also said he would stage his flowers Friday night as he did not fancy getting up early Saturday morning.

The Start -
I left home for just after 7am and made my way North and I had a good drive until they shut the M74. At Junction 13 they pulled us off the motorway at Abington services and sent us over the tops and it dropped us out at the start of the Ayr road at Junction 12,then 10 minutes later I arrived at John Hamilton’s home for bang on 10am to meet up with John and Mhari Hamilton and Bob Robertson. Bob is one of those mad Scotsmen along with Robert Nelson & Peter Matthews who put an excellent stand on at Ingleston as you can see by the picture to the left when you consider the time of year it was (I missed putting this picture in an earlier episode). 

John Hamilton’s Home
On arrival I met John & Mhari’s new pup, which had huge paws and sounded like an elephant when it ran across the kitchen floor. As we went for a quick look in John's greenhouse we found out the dog had been named Koshka (see picture to the right) which is Russian for “female cat”. In my humble opinion Mhari has a fantastic sense of humour, John did comment that the dog will need a lot of therapy later in life over this – which we all found funny.
John had been to the show venue the night before to stage his flowers and due to horrendous traffic issues that he encountered on the way back resulted in him not getting home until the early hours. So armed with this info John programmed Bob’s car's sat nav for Ronnie Welsh’s home then ignored it to take the back roads to the Road Bridge thus avoiding all the traffic jam hot spots, and once over the Road Bridge we followed the sat nav to Methil and the seat where the king of the Kingdom of Fife resided.
Once we crossed the Forth Road Bridge and headed deep into the Kingdom of Fifth we found beautiful blue skies and sun – in fact every time I have been to Ronnie’s this has always been the weather I don’t think he knows what rain is….

Ronnie Welsh’s home -
We arrived at Ronnie’s just as Jim Evans was leaving to go to the show, now Ronnie was not exhibiting today because he was suffering with sciatica.
On entering the greenhouse we were hit with a wall of colour down the left hand side of his greenhouse (as you can see by the pictures to the right and left) to the right were plants that were going back slowly.
When you consider the time of year his flowers looked fantastic and as you can see by the picture to the left and the great man himself Ronnie Welsh.
Ronnie showed us his cold frame which housed this year’s cuttings. One thing that does surprise me on my travels is the many different ways growers keep and look after their cuttings, but at the end of the day you could see cutting tubers developing under the cuttings. The picture to the left shows me, Bob Robertson and Ronnie discussing his cuttings – the picture to the right shows the four us, I was trying to hide behind John but Mhari was just too quick with the camera.

On returning to his greenhouse John & Ronnie started discussing the pro’s & con’s on varieties as you can see by the picture to the left once again I got caught on it so to say – the flower in the picture I was Walk Talk and to the right an really good Colin Hamilton.


I just had to include these pictures as well just to show you how good his flowers were:
                                                from left to right – Joshua Brown,   Powder Puff,   Symestar   & RT Murphy Bryce –

The Show -
After leaving Ronnie’s we followed the coastal road to Burntisland via Kirkcaldy and Kinghorn it certainly looked a lovely stretch of coast line.
On arrival to Burntisland we managed to park the car on the car park which was at the edge of the “Links” (this was a very long stretch of grass land before you got to the beach where people could play, walk and have picnics etc.). We then made are way up a steep one way road to find the Church Hall which was split into 2 big halls -
         1. This had the flower show in.
     2.       Was set out with tables where you could buy homemade cakes etc. to eat with a good cuppa

We made our way into the first hall to find it full of exhibits and none-other than Andrew Patterson who has a lot to do with setting up and running of the show and if I am honest looked dead on his feet he must have been one very long day for him. With Andrew was Jim Evans so after a quick chat I made my way over to the begonia section. At this point I found out we had just missed the Judge Robert Nelson for the second year running, this time however we had missed him by just 10 minutes.
John Hamilton had come 1st in the 6 board as you can see by the picture to the left on which he had staged Geisha Girl (bottom right on his 6 board) - when was the last time anyone saw that variety staged?

Tony Shepherdson took 2nd place with a very good board as you can see by the picture to the right which included probably the best Colin Hamilton I have seen shown this year (bottom left on this board) as well as a very good Alana Hamilton (middle left), how did I know it was good!!! Simple I asked the man who raised it who was with us…. John Hamilton.
John also pipped Tony to claim 1st place in the 3 board class – John’s winning 3 are to the left hand side of the picture to the left, but Tony got his own back by taking the single cut bloom class with a bloom of Falstaff as you can see by the picture to the right.

After a while myself Bob, Tony and Mhari went for a cuppa, John was following us but by the time we had sat down he had gone AWOL – mooching round and talking to other exhibiters no doubt. So the 4 of us ate some homemade cakes (small ones I hasten to add) and chatted. After a while John arrived at the end of the table with a huge grin on his face and rubbed his hands at the same time as saying ”fish supper”. 
 We said our farewells to Tony Shepherdson as he left to look for his wife who had come with him, and 10 minutes later after we had come out of the hall and made our way back to the car park we found ourselves outside a chippy on the seafront, more or less facing the car park and the four of us went in to sit down and have a fish supper.

The drive back part 1 -
On the way back to John's we followed the coast road round the headland to the Forth Road Bridge, as we made our way round we came through Dalgety Bay and John and Bob started talking about radiation contamination, John explained about how the instrument dials were coated with radioactive paint. (The next day I was still intrigued with this story so I went and did some researching).

                                                                Dalgety Bay – a little bit of local history
The source of the contamination has come from waste dumped by HMS Merlin, the naval air station that formerly occupied the area and which was closed in 1959. During WW ll, the station was tasked with carrying out maintenance of aircraft. This involved the service and repair of the aircrafts instrumentation, and many of the cockpit instrument dial markings were coated with luminous paint containing radium, which is radioactive. Following the end of the war many surplus aircraft were scrapped at HMS Merlin, and incinerated with other rubbish. The waste was ultimately disposed of as landfill and used to form a headland at Dalgety Bay and over the years it  is believed to have leached into the bay and Scottish Environment Protection Agency or SEPA have said it’s about 50 times higher than normal. 

The drive back part 2 -
I think it was about 7ish when we got back to John & Mhari’s home where we said our goodbyes to Bob Robertson then John suggested I had a brew before I set off home.
I left for around 2000hrs and made my way back South over the border into England and on to Heywood and home.
Some of you might not believe this but I had a slow “legal” drive back and made it home for just after 2300hrs

I would just like to thank John Hamilton, Bob Robertson and Ronnie Welsh for a great day out and a special thanks to Mhari Hamilton who went snap happy and supplied most of the pictures. 

Sunday 25th September
Well I broke a habit of a lifetime and cut my plant stems in half, not just to let air move between the plants to help prevent rot and mildew creep in. The reason I did this was so I could push my pots up next to each other to make room for my cuttings which were still outside as the weather has changed drastically and I have lost my propagating greenhouse due to growing and trying to flower my seedlings.
Temperatures at night have dropped down to single figures, it’s getting dark for 1900hrs and it’s raining and cold during the day.
I am still going through all my cuttings every week or two stopping any new basal’s that have been thrown up from below as well as rubbing out any new side shoots that appear. I am starting to see pots being pushed out of shape and basals being thrown, a sure sign of cutting tuber production.

Tuesday 27th September
Today I fed all my cuttings with Chempak no 3 as I want to keep my cutting tuber production under the plant going for a while yet. At this time of year they want to reproduce by flowering, but I have denied them that as well as stopping any new shoots forming during the year – so the cutting is limited to only one way to “survive” and that’s by producing a tuber.

Saturday 1st October
I had a drive over to Mr Bryce’s this afternoon as I have not seen him for a while and I wanted to see how his seedlings were doing. I found him in high spirits on his drive way were I noticed a load of new basket begonias, he went through the varieties he had picked up for next to nothing from a Garden Centre in Newcastle. I don’t know any grower with the amount of different varieties of basket / trailing begonias than what Robert has now (maybe he should challenge June & Peter Sourbutts in the hanging basket class at Southport Flower Show). His new ones were part of a series raised by an American company.
We had a brew and caught up on things then Robert fired up his laptop and showed me a couple of seedlings that had flowered and he was hoping to keep them over until next year.
We then had a walk out to see how his seedlings were doing. They had suffered a little bit as he had been away on holiday, whilst away we endured a couple of warm days however he did have a white seedling he was getting a little “giddy” about.
He had now managed to get all his plants into his greenhouses apart from his baskets types that were still flowering on his drive.

Sunday 9th October
Today the 3 amigos - Mr Bryce, Dodgy Dave and myself – were back in the saddle so to speak and heading north.
Rewind the clock back to Monday 3rd October –
I made a call to Bob Robertson with regards a picture I was after from him, then asked if I could book 3 people at the last minute to the Scottish Begonia Society meal on Sunday 9th October…
That night I e-mailed Robert Bryce and texted Dave Weatherby who was on holiday in Malta where they were going on Sunday 9th October.
So that’s why I was not alone on this trip - the other two were given no choice, I had also made arrangements to drop some plants in at John Hamilton’s before we headed off for the Society meal.
So it was just after 07:30hrs when we met Dave Weatherby and hit the M6 north, we made good time so I made a stop for a brew. Dave Weatherby behaved himself this time and we had no recurrence of the coffee throwing incident that we had early in the year, as that incident nearly got us all barred from all Motorway services Starbucks north of the border.
We arrived at Johns for after 10am and unloaded the boot then took everything round the back of his house.
John’s plants were going back in 2 sections of his “greenhouse” – in his propagator he had some late cuttings rooting. He also had hundreds of cuttings in flower as he was hybridising again and made a number of crosses, resulting in petals falling off a number of female buds that he had crossed over.
Since the weather was warm we had a brew outside, we were joined by Mhari and we chatted about everything.
John disappeared back into his greenhouse with Dave and after a while Dave “the plant hunter” arrived back with a large number of cuttings…
On our way out I noticed that John had put 9 new screws and a nail in his gate to make it Dave Weatherby proof – and it survived Dave’s visit intact this time.
We said our goodbyes to John & Mhari Hamilton and left at 1215hrs and set off for the gathering at Airdrie. At 12:45hrs we arrival to find Robert Nelson waiting for us outside Springfield Community Centre and he had a quiet word with Mr Bryce as we were shown to our table.
We were not the only ones that made it up from the South of the border as Tony Shepherdson, Colin Elsworth, Vincent Potts and Phil Champion were in attendance as well.
After the meal Mr Bryce got up and did a presentation on Ayr & Shrewsbury Flower Shows from pictures taken by Jim Evens – Mr Nelson ambushed Mr Bryce on arrival and press ganged him into doing the impromptu presentation.  During the presentation Phil Champion announced he had named his seedling that had taken the shows by storm this year, he has named it after his mother – Joyce Champion (see picture  to left) – and am sure he will be bombarded with requests for it.
The meal and presentation finished for 15:45hrs so we said our farewells to everyone – I thought this was a little early to head back home so I had a quick chat with Phil Champion who felt the same so we informed Robert Nelson we were going back to his for a brew…. So 3 cars made their way to Carluke and Mr Nelson's home.
On arrival at Robert's he showed us into his main greenhouse and asked us all a few questions before we went in his conservatory for a brew. After an hour or so we said our farewells to Robert & Margaret for probably the last time this year.

We then made are way back South of the border and back to England & home.

Until next time….

Michael's 2016 Diary