The National Begonia Society


2015 Diary

Michael Richardson

Episode 23.  ‘The Caledonian Tours 2015’ Tour No 8 –
 Ronnie Welsh & Fife Flower Show.

Saturday 19th September
Departing -

   Well it was 7am when I left home for this 553 mile round trip up North and back. It was just  Mr. Bryce and myself who were making this trip as Vincent Pott’s knees were giving him some “jip” so we gave him another day off and put it down to – Sick Unpaid this time – who says we are not a caring “Tour Company”. I think this is the third time we have made an excursion North to Ronnie Welsh’s and the Fife Flower Show.

Robert Bryce’s -
   I arrived at Roberts for 07:30 and before we set off he showed us his propagating greenhouse. He had been dabbling in hybridizing again and had managed to succeed in crossing Nichola Coates over Moira Callan as the petals had fallen off the female and the pod was now “ripening”.
   See a picture of Moira Callan on the right, Robert is on record stating that it’s the best raising in the last 10 years – high praise indeed. Whilst we were there Robert tapped another female flower that he had crossed with pollen from Nichola Coates and the x4 petals dropped off together.
   After a short while we set off as we had agreed to meet Ian Donaldson and Kennedy McQuiston at John Hamilton’s home for 11am, then the x5 of us would set off in a two cars to Ronnie Welsh’s.

John Hamilton’s –
   We arrived at John Hamilton’s at just on 10am to find that Ian Donaldson’s car was already there. We found John, Ian Donaldson, Kennedy McQuiston and Jim Gordon lurking in John’s greenhouse. We were introduced to Jim Gordon who was one of Ian’s Fuchsia growing mates (A big name in the fuchsia world) who fancied trying his luck with Begonias.
   John was in the process of potting up his cuttings from his cold frame outside, he has potted up about 500 cuttings and must have had that many still to do. That would mean, at a guess well over a x1000 cuttings potted up by the time he has finished.
After a chat and a mug of coffee and our re-acquaintance with his x2 dogs it was time to make our move to the Kingdom of Fife, and King Ronnie’s abode.

The Journey to Ronnie’s Kingdom -
   Kennedy left his car at Johns, and Kennedy, John and Jim got in Ian’s car. Then the x2 car convoy set of to West Calder to collect David Nimmo.
However we had to have x2 “comfort breaks” between leaving Colburn and arriving at West Calder, basic translation for those of us who don’t live in Kirkcudbright means we got lost!!!. When we arrived at David Nimmo’s a certain driver from Kirkcudbright blamed the female sat-nav voice for getting him lost!!!!!
  Also during this Journey we had to travel at “4 score & 1” (I will let you do the math’s) to keep up with the lead car, the only time we saw his red brake lights was when we came up on a village / town, and the unnamed driver wanted to see a smiley face on the speed limit sign on the way into the village or town when you went under 30mph (see picture on left). When we got through the town / village he jumped to warp speed again and disappeared – it’s probably a good job Vincent did not come because of what happened when we followed this driver earlier in the year. You could call this the 2nd stage of the rally.
We eventually found David Nimmo’s house, at this point John transferred cars and got in with Robert Bryce and I and David Nimmo joined Ian and that motley crew in his car.
Then we skirted around Edinburgh and headed to the Forth Road Bridge to get to the Kingdom of Fife.
We hit traffic crossing the road bridge, which gave us a chance to look at the new Road Bridge that is currently under construction, not only that but the fabulous Forth Rail Bridge was on the other side of us.
Then onto to Mehil, Near Leven on the East Coast of the Kingdom of Fife via Kirkody to visit none other than Ronnie Welsh.

Ronnie Welsh’s -
We arrived at Ronnie’s to find Ronnie Welsh and his good wife outside his greenhouse with Jim Evans.
When we all entered his greenhouse I was amazed to see Begonias in flower as good as they were for this time of year.
As you can see by the picture on the right just how much colour he still had in his greenhouse for us to look at.
On the picture to the left you can see John Hamilton, Ronnie Welsh and David Nimmo discussing the finer points of some of the varieties on show.
Now at this point I pointed out a Seedling that I liked at the back of his greenhouse, it was an unusual colour break and led to some “hot” discussion – but I promised not to divulge anything else about this “special” variety – but you could speak to Ronnie or Ian Donaldson about it, I will say no more.
   There was also a lot of leg pulling about a “plant” of Golden Hind that Ian had given Ronnie – it turned out to be a very small cutting.
I then told them about a cutting of Robert Tyler Murphy I won in a raffle at Southport Flower Show last year – This cutting has been mentioned many times under the title of “Cutting enigma” and that it was a cutting donated by Ian Donaldson.
Now earlier in the year at a Scottish Begonia Society Meeting Ian Donaldson brought me a big plant of Robert Tyler Murphy – Now this was either down to:
    • He is a decent kind of man (that we all know he is)
    • He felt guilty for giving me a dodgy cutting
So a lot of “leg pulling” and harmless fun ensued at Ian’s expense about supplying dodgy cuttings.
At this point I will offer my apologizes to Ian Donaldson as you can see by the picture of my “Cutting Enigma” on the right, the 5 inch pot is being pushed out of shape and you can see another Basal stem coming up from the other side of the pot. This is on top of at least a dozen cuttings I have taken and rooted.
   At this point we were all in his greenhouse discussing the pro’s & cons of various varieties and a lot of “leg pulling” took place at everyone’s expense.
Now if you look at the picture on the left, camouflaged by a variety of a species plant - is an important part of Ronnie’s growing technique, as if it was not for this then he would never “be at one” with his plants and the quality of his growing would suffer….. Yep you have guessed it, it’s the fridge that contains the “liquid” that helps him reach the sub conscious state he needs to be at to be “at one” with his plants.

   Well the time had come to leave Ronnie’s.
Now our convoy had reached x3 cars as Jim Evans was taking Ronnie and his better half to the show.
So the three vehicles set off from Ronnie’s at Methil and we then made our away back to Dunfermline and Dobies Garden World at Duloch Park where they were holding Fife flower show.

Fife Flower Show -
   On arrival we found the clash of giants had been won by John Hamilton's entry (left) with Ronnie Welsh coming 2nd (right) and Jim Evans taking 3rd place.
What I found unusual about this show was that they had no best bloom in show prize – so that led to quite a bit of debate (below right) between Robert, Kennedy, Andrew Paterson (below left) and myself.   At this point we would have asked the judge, the one and only Robert Nelson, for his opinion. However on looking for him we found out that he had absconded early as we were told he was under orders from his good wife Margaret to be back home early so he could take her out that night. So I have put a picture up of him anyway (below right), as I missed catching up with my good friend.

As you can see by the picture on the left the show was well supported. Ian Donaldson was taking Jim Gordon along the show bench explaining the finer points of begonia growing and it seems he is interested in pot plants. Ian is trying to get him on the show bench next year so remember where you heard his name first.
After a good look round the Dahlia, Chrysanthemum and vegetable sections we went for a brew and something to eat.
   At this point Ian and I had a talk about who was taking who home, as John was coming back with us I offered to take Kennedy who had left his car at Johns. This meant Ian could take David Nimmo home then carry on his way back home to Kirkcubright.

Journey home -
   At this point Ian and David bid their farewells and left, we then bid farewell to Andrew Paterson. It had gone 5pm when we left to make our way back to John’s house. We made our way back across the Forth Road Bridge to the M9 then cut onto the M8 and on to Junction 6 where we could get off on to the A73 and for want of better words take a short cut along the back roads to Johns that I knew well. Just as we got past Junction 5 we hit a traffic jam and it took us 1½ hours to get to junction 6. The time passed quickly with the varied topics of conversation that flowed, particularly Kennedy when he was telling us about some experiences during his 50 years at sea as a fisherman.
We got to Johns for around 7pm and said our farewells to him and Kennedy and then started our journey back to England.
   How quick the nights are closing in now as it was dark when we set off back. We got Robert Bryce safely home for around 10pm and I walked through the front door for 1030pm.

The Days Summary -
    We had a great day out and the weather played its part as well as it was blue skies and warm. I would like to take this opportunity to thank John Hamilton and Ronnie Welsh for their hospitality as well as Ian Donaldson, Kennedy McQuiston, David Nimmo, Jim Gordon, Jim Evans and Andrew Paterson for making it such a memorable day. I cannot say how much humour and “mickey taking” was exchanged at everyone’s expense. So much so we have pencilled in this trip again next year.

                                      Until next time….


Michael Richardson's Diaries 2015