The National Begonia Society



On the road again
Michael Richardson
Visit to Ball Colgrave Nursery  July 2019

Ball Colegrave

This is the 4th consecutive year that Mr Bryce and myself have visited Ball Colegrave and once again our thanks go to John Winfield for arranging this for the National Begonia Society. Over the years a number of different people have travelled with us and this year was no exception as Peter Sourbutts and Brian Horton were making the trip there with us.
The only difference this time was that I did not have to drive because my car had a problem that meant it had to go into the garage and they gave me a mini to drive – yep you read that right – me a mini – now I am not the smallest person in the world so all I would say that it was like being shoe horned into a fairground dodgem car.
So Peter Sourbutts kindly agreed to drive us down.
So Tuesday night, the night before the trip I went around my greenhouses and garden ensuring everything was thoroughly watered as the temperature was getting warmer as we headed towards Thursday and D-Day where we were to encounter the hottest ever recorded temperatures to hit us.
I also had all the doors and vents open on the greenhouses as it was still very hot when we went into the evening period.
Just after midnight I was awoken by a huge bang and my bedroom lit up with a bluish light followed by heavy rain and gale force winds as my curtains were flapping madly. Realizing that I had left everything open on the greenhouse due to the heat I found myself running around my garden in the middle of this furore in just a pair of boxer shorts trying to shut the doors of my greenhouses (it was not a pretty sight I am sure hahahaha). I ended up looking like a drowned rat stood in the kitchen with a brew watching this storm of biblical proportions as it lasted for over a good hour.
One saving grace was that the roof vents were not on auto otherwise I would have been knackered as it was still that warm it would have meant they would have still been fully open.
I thought I was just battling against hot weather not a post-apocalyptic storm front as well.

Robert Bryce arrived at mine for 6am and had a good look round my plants before I had opened up and he said I had better get some tissue as there were water drops on some petals. I could not believe it, the rain had come down on a 45 degree angle and bounced off the louvre vent blades and into the greenhouse and onto my plants – luckily the leaves had protected the petals from the water apart from a couple of flowers so I did what I could to soak up what rain drops I could see.
On the bright side Robert was very complimentary on how my plants and flowers looked so that started the day on a good note. After we both got in the car we set off to meet up with Peter and Brian in Birchwood, Warrington. Then 5 minutes later we were on the M6 heading south towards Oxford.
To be fair to the M6 we had a good drive down and apart from our usual Costa Coffee stop we made good time.
We made Ball Colegrave for just before 11am and split up as we had a good look around.
Before I start I will explain how they manage to water everything in the x4 pictures below running from left to right -

1.     The outdoor large staging they use to stand some plants in pots on. The staging itself had a metal mesh base covered with a perforated plastic sheet. Then it had a “thickish fabric” filling with another plastic perforated sheet on top.

2.     At a number of points around the trial fields were what to me looked like stand pipes, attached to these were timers with a the main irrigation pipe attached to it.

3.      The ground area where the containers were, were crisscrossed with the main irrigation pipes and a smaller pipe attached running from it into each container to water it.

4.       They watered their hanging baskets the same way.


 All the dead heading was done by hand, and yes we saw people performing this never ending task.
The outside trial grounds predominantly had the begonias in located in 4 areas, so I have seperated this write up into x4 parts.

The 1st area of interest – this area as you can see by the x3 pictures below had existing named begonia varieties and newly released begonias varieties in it.


Below running from left to right are x4 pictures showing you some varieties from the Million Kisses series in all their glory:

     1.     Begonia Million Kisses Valentine
2.     Begonia Million Kisses Elegance
3.     Begonia Million Kisses Honeymoon
4.     Begonia Million Kisses Amour


The next x4 pictures running from left to right are:

     1.     F1 Santa Cruz
2.     Begonia Truffle Cream
3.     Begonia Cherry Bon Bon
4.     Begonia F1 Funky White & Funky Pink


Below running from left to right are:

     1.     Begonia group picture Begonia Starshine – Appleblossom, Bronze Papaya
2.     Begonia group picture Begonia Starshine – Orange, Red
3.     Begonia group picture Begonia Starshine – Rose, Yellow
4.     Begonia group picture Begonia F1 Sourbutts, Bryce & Horton – thankfully there will be no more of this group being created / produced from stem culture.


The 2nd area of interest - Future Shade Basket Area as you can see with the picture below

Below are x4 pictures of showing some of the experimental varieties on show in this area:


 The 3rd area of interest - was an area of containers sat on the floor that carried some exciting experimental varieties.
Below are x4 pictures showing some of the experimental varieties on show in this area:


The 4th area of interest - was another area of containers sat on the floor that carried some more exciting experimental varieties.
Below are x4 pictures of showing some of the experimental varieties on show in this area:


  Finally in a “scene setting” greenhouse was this fantastic looking basket of Begonia Northern Lights Gold that you can see below

For something a little different some spectacular looking petunia’s that were also on display around this area as well:


Well I hope that gives you an idea what named begonia varieties are currently available for you to buy to put into your baskets, tubs & troughs.

Not only that but what could be the begonias of the future, as you have seen via the pictures above there are some exciting new breakthroughs that could be named and released in the future.

Until next time….


Articles by Michael Richardson
Visit to Ian Donaldson and Phil Champion  
July 2019
  Visit to Society President & Membership Secretary Terry Tasker 

 Scottish Begonia Society Meeting Spring 2019       South West journey Spring 2019
Growers in the Spotlight - North & South of the Border   5 Articles
Judging - My first experience      2016 Diary