The National Begonia Society


2015 Diary

Michael Richardson

Episode 10.    Caledonian Tour 4 & Local Excursions 2,3 & 4

‘The Caledonian Tours 2015’ Tour No 4
Sunday 11th April – Scotland

   One of our party asked permission not to make this trip with us today due to a prior engagement. So that left just me and Vincent to make this trip to Scotland for the Scottish Begonia Society April meeting where the speaker was Jim Evans and his chosen subject – Cut Blooms
   I collected Vincent from his home at 0730hrs and set off North to our first port of call at Carluke and Robert Nelsons. Robert had asked if we could get to his home slightly earlier then normal so he could make the start of the Scottish Begonia Society Committee meeting at 1230hrs, Vincent had also been invited again onto the committee meeting.
   Just like November 2014 on the way to Scotland with no way of escape when Robert Bryce had asked me if I would do this Diary, Vincent Potts dropped the bombshell that he thought it would be a great idea if I went one step further and do the talk and presentation at the North West Area meeting at Chorley next April 2016. This took me by total surprise and left me in a state of shock if I am honest for the rest of the journey North, now it looks like I might have to learn about “power point presentations”.
(To my utter amazement Basil Billinger suggested the same thing in one of his latest emails).

   We ran into rain just as we got to the Lake District and it did not stop until we came off the M74 and headed across to Carluke.
   At Robert Nelson’s home we had a good look around his 3 greenhouses and in his propagating greenhouse he had a number of tubers that were a lot slower than the rest, so it looks like I am not alone when it comes to having a few tubers growing slower than the rest.
   After being fed and watered we said goodbye to Margaret and made our way to the meeting where we arrived in time for Robert and Vincent to make the committee meeting from the start. Just as it was about to start Samuel Kennedy invited me to sit on the committee meeting as well.
   It is a real eye opener seeing and witnessing so many people wanting to join in and take responsibility for tasks and roles within the Scottish Begonia Society to ensure its smooth running.

   Jim Evens talk was both entertaining and enlightening and even included an animated dance segment involving x4 members of the Society including Samuel and Elizabeth Kennedy.
   There was a lot of friendly banter between the audience and Jim and the talk was enjoyed by all.
Now the speaker at the Scottish Begonia Society Meeting in May is our own one and only Robert Bryce. The heckling alone will be worth the trip let alone the admission fee, as rumour has it that Ian Donaldson, Kennedy McQuiston as well as a few others will be making the journey.
   After saying our farewells we left for the long journey home, I dropped Vincent off about 2000hrs and I walked through the front door at approx. 2030hrs – another 408 mile round trip completed.

“Local excursion No 2” – This was unplanned
Tuesday 21th April – 40 East Lancs Rd, Blackburn

   Well once again it was the 3 usual suspects reunited and back on the road again – Robert Bryce, Vincent Potts and I - on our way to visit Barry Walker's home. I for one had never been to Barry’s before so I was looking forward to it.
   I picked Vincent up then we picked Robert up, but before we left we had a nosey in Roberts Propagating Greenhouse that housed all his plants at the moment.
   Robert once again has given us all a head start by “poisoning” his plants!!!! It seems (and I apologize if I am wrong here) Peat is an inert medium but if you store it outside in the sun for a length of time it can turn slightly acidic. This can result in it having a detrimental effect on your tubers. So to try and help pull his plants around Robert had given them a feed of Vitafeed 1-4-1, this will help put root in pot. He also commented that he could already see a difference in his plants from the day before. A word of caution to all exhibitors out there, Robert is at his deadliest when he is on the back foot.
   Just for the record I store my peat in a cool dark shed and I personally have never had an issue with storing and using peat.

“Local excursion No 3”
Tuesday 21st April – Mynydd Golfgfa, Pen-Y-Lon

   After about ½ hour at Robert Bryce’s we set off to Barry Walkers, as we turned off the main road to Wales to head to Mold someone tried to wreck our day by driving a White Van into us. To cut a long story short the car was still drivable so we carried on to Mold and Barry’s – Nothing was going to ruin our day out if I could help it.
   We made it to Barry’s and after a nice brew we had a look in his Propagating Greenhouse, his cutting tubers looked really well. He did not have a propagating unit as such but about x5 heating mats that he used to provide bottom heat. Then he showed the first of his two Alton Greenhouse’s (see the picture on the left), this one had all his adult plants in and his most advanced cutting tubers. At this point Robert, Vincent and I unanimously agreed that they were the best and more advanced looking plants we had seen on our travels so far this year. Barry’s big dilemma now is either Pot up into a second Pot at the start of May or stay in their first Pot and feed Champak No 3 full strength once a week. Once again the three visitors agreed he should pot up again (see the picture on right), however this decision is down to Barry and what he feels comfy in doing. He had a lot of begonia plug plants potted up ready to go out in his garden as well and again they all looked healthy, all he needs now is the daytime and night time temperatures to warm up.
   His second Alton Greenhouse was empty at present apart from his cuttings that he was rooting by standing his pots with cuttings in on a heated mat. Later on in the season when the weather warms up a little more, Barry will start spreading his plants out across both his Alton greenhouses.
   I must admit at this point Barry had been told not to feed us – as to why you will find out later.
   Robert asked if he could look at the National Begonia Societies Archive Collection as Barry is now our Archivist, so whilst Barry and Robert disappeared to view it myself and Vincent had a- mooch around Barry’s garden and another look in his propagating greenhouse.
   When Robert and Barry had finished viewing the Archive Collection they re-joined us again outside. Now it was time to leave and make are way to Ron’s house, Barry joined us on our drive on to Ron Aldous’s house.

“Local excursion No 4”
Tuesday 21st April – Llandudno Junction, Conwy

   45 miles further up the road was Ron Aldous home and after seeing his presentation at North West Area meeting at Chorley in 2014 I could not resist this opportunity to visit his Greenhouses and Garden. With Barry in the back giving directions we found Ron’s house without any problems.
If I said my jaw hit the floor when I saw his set up believe me it did. Let me see if I can get this right – Ron has won the National Championship in –
    • Streptocarpus,
    • Daffodils,
    • Chrysanthemums
   • Begonia - Pot Plants
   So as you see from this he is a very accomplished all round grower.
   His main Aircraft Hanger sorry Greenhouse, I will split in to 3 sections for the ease of explaining –
    • Sections 1 & 2 (see picture on the left), the end section had his Chrysanthemums in (on the floor of this section he had a practise golf putting area), the middle section had his Begonias in and Ron informed us that they all in their first pots.
    • Section 3 (see picture on the right) was used for propagation purposes, and was glazed off for this purpose. This section held his propagating units and had staging running round x3 sides off it, and again were full off Begonias in their first Pots.
Ron highlighted the fact he was also suffering with the same problem that Robert Nelson and I have encountered and that’s having a few stubborn tubers that were dragging their heels in throwing out root and “moving”.
   For a good hour or so, Vincent, Robert, Ron and Barry and I talked about everything to do with and about!! Yes you guessed it Begonias (see picture on left).
At this point we were summoned to the conservatory by Ron’s wife and then found out why Barry was under instructions not to feed us as there was a spread fit for a king laid on for us, no wonder Barry had joined us on the visit to Ron’s. During the conversation Ron and his wife told us how they have held birthday parties at the end of the year in his Greenhouse, which was the first time I had heard a greenhouse being used as a party venue!!!!! We sat round that table and talked about anything and everything for a good hour or so.
   Now some of you out there must think that the three of us only travel about so we can be fed – but it’s one of the many occupational hazards that we have to face on our travels.
   It got to the point where Barry and myself had to stretch our legs so we left them talking and went to have a proper look at Ron’s garden. After a while the rest of our party joined us and Ron then gave us a guided tour of his garden and fish pond and then proceeded to feed the fish. Then he showed us his second Aircraft hangar sorry shade house, you had to see it to believe it (see picture on the right) – it had a “solid” roof and green netted sides.
   It was about 1730hrs when we left Ron’s house, then we dropped Barry back at his home in Mold. The journey back to Robert’s house was thankfully uneventful and we dropped Robert off back at home in Blackburn, then I dropped Vincent at his home in Lango and I finally got home at approx. 2000hrs.

Ron Aldous

      Until next time….

Michael Richardson's Diaries 2015