The National Begonia Society


Growers in the Spotlight - North & South of the Border

Michael Richardson

Blackmore & Langdon's and the South Wales/South West Area Meeting

Sunday 2nd April - John Hamilton’s talk to the South West & south Wales Areas

The run up to Sunday 2nd April -

Monday 27th March
 I sent an email to Robert Bryce congratulating him on a fantastic job with the new Society Bulletin, then I also asked if he fancied a trip to Newport, Ghent, in Wales not only to listen to John Hamilton’s talk but also visit an Area Meeting we have not been before.
Thursday 30th March
 I spoke with John Chiswell on the phone and he told me that he was meeting up with Nick Langdon and Gary & Joy Dando at Blackmore & Langdon’s at about 9am then meeting up with in Ian Rhys Williams and other members at a pub for dinner at about 11:30.
So later that night I emailed Robert and told him the plan and asked if he was up for the trip and could he be at my house for 6am.
Now for a man who is living in the golden years of retirement he probably never expected to see any more days with more than one 5 o’clock in them but this year I have had him up at 5am in the morning twice now.

The Journey
At approx. 6am Robert Bryce parked his car up outside my house and we set off South.
With setting off early we got around the M60 ring road and to the M6 without any hitch, then apart from the endless miles of average 50mph sections we got to Birmingham in excellent time. The M5 had long sections of average speed cameras set at 50mph but there were no hold ups then onto the M32 into Bristol and not long after we arrived at Blackmore & Langdon's.

Blackmore and Langdon's
We arrived at just after 9am and were the first ones there, Robert went looking through a greenhouse window at the delphiniums that were earmarked for Chelsea Flower Show when we were greeted by Nick Langdon just as John Chiswell arrived.
Nick kindly made all four of us a coffee before Robert starting reminiscing with Nick about when he used to come down to visit and chat with Stephen Langdon on numerous occasions.
John Chiswell showed me into a greenhouse where they took, rooted & potted up their cuttings and plants as you can see by the picture to the right.

They have their own compost mixed by Bullrush (see picture to the left) and quite a number of members of the Begonia Society in the South West Area get this compost from Blackmore & Langdon's to use and all have said how good it is. It was my first time that I had seen or felt it, it felt remarkably like the coir in texture in a strange kind of way. John Chiswell kindly sent me a picture (to the right) of a rooted cutting using this medium.

Next to the potting stations was a kind of hydroponic misting unit, as you can see by the picture to the left.

In the top off the unit it had a tray full of round cells with a plastic “plug” in the top of each cell as per the picture to the right.

You push your cutting through the “plug” so the bottom part of the cutting is below this cell tray. The misting unit in the base of this unit then mist sprays the bottom part of your cuttings stem, and after a while the root forms as you can see by the picture to the left.
Now John Chiswell said that if the root gets too big and you try and pot it into your medium it just sits and sulks as it’s a different type of root – a water root – John called it.

So to get round this problem as soon as the root appears they pot it straight up, apparently the root starts as it should do now. 

Then as per the picture to the right you can see some of cutting tubers they have potted up already, and they still had trays full cutting tubers to pot. This does not include any of this years rooted cuttings.


At this point Gary and June Dando arrived so Nick went to meet them, whilst John Chiswell took Mr Bryce and myself to another greenhouse that housed all their Chelsea & Hampton Court Flower Show plants.

One word – very impressive – ok that’s two words as you can clearly see to the picture on the left.

As you can see by the picture to the right the plants had nice looking buds developing on them.

It was not long before the 6 of us where wandering around looking at the plants on show, then none other than John & Mhari Hamilton arrived. Believe it or not it was John Hamilton's first visit to Blackmore & Langdon's.

The picture to the left is of a plant which by going on the label looked like a seedling – but the colour on the developing bud was very eye catching.


To the meeting venue -
Then the 3 vehicles set off with the post code programmed into the cars satnav systems to the Lysaght Institute in Newport Ghent. About 45 minutes later that included a trip of the Avonmouth Toll Bridge the satnav said we had reached our destination but we were in the middle of an industrial estate. From the moment we entered this “industrial” area we had been followed for good ˝ mile by some dodgy looking character’s in a sporty red mini – however when Nick Langdon, John Hamilton and myself pulled over to plot our next move pretty much next to the Newport Transporter Bridge the red mini appeared again and stopped near us… it turned out to be Steve Jones and his wife who had also followed their satnav to this dodgy area and were lost.

It was not long before we managed to find the venue for the talk, but nowhere within 100 metres of this venue could we see the pub where we were to meet Ian Rhys Williams and his posse to have lunch – so at this point the 8 of us were stood in a parking lot with 2 options -
     Dinner in Morrisons that was next door.
     Ultimate Kitchen van parked in the B&Q car park across the road.

At this point John Chiswell phoned Ian for some more directions – and this 100 meters turned into more closer to a mile where we had to walk over the City Bridge to cross the River Usk.

After the meal we all made are way back to the meeting place.

The talk -

The speaker was none other than the Begonia growing legend himself, John Hamilton and his talk was on growing Pot Plants & Cut Blooms for exhibition.
His talk was fantastic and covered his growing methods from start of the year to the end of the year with regards both Cut Blooms and Pot Plants – what he did, when and why.
His talk went down very well with all present.

After the meeting we made are farewells and left about 1715hrs, we arrived back at mine for approx. 2020hrs.
I would just like to thank Nick Langdon for his hospitably that he showed to us at Blackmore & Langdon's and John Hamilton for a great talk.

Until next time….