The National Begonia Society


The  South  Coast  Area

South coast Area News

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Our Area Show in the floral marquee at the Southsea Show.
Really we were thrown in at the deep end, or so it seemed at the time.  Luckily one of us, "Pop" Hilton  was an excellent grower and an experienced exhibitor.  He and his wife Doris had been displaying groups of plants including begonias at local shows for some years and it was their expertise that set us on the road. 

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1973. Our first display, a modest 9' x 6', attracted much interest and several new recruits, and with this enthusiastic support we were able to develop and improve.  Even before the Show had ended we were busy planning for the future.

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1974. The following year. the stand had grown to 12' x 10' with an additional decorated area at one end.  A feature as in the previous  year was the use of a large number of Species begonias grown by founder member Alan Cole. The display earned us our first  Gold Medal.

    In 1975 we staged the first classes (3 pot, 1 pot, and 3 cut bloom). That same year a young couple enrolled who were to make such an impact on the Society, both locally and nationally that it is fair to classify our activities at Southsea as BC (before Coates) and AC (after Coates), I refer of course to Dave and Pauline. Our standards were instantly lifted and displays became bigger and bigger. Over the next few years the number of classes increased  and exhibitors were attracted from further afield. This success was not just down to Dave and Pauline, it was, and still is a grand team effort by a group of enthusiasts who have along the way become good friends.

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In 1976 the National Committee granted us area status and Brian Simmons became the first South Coast Representative and Show Secretary.

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By 1984 our stand had become recognised as the largest massed display of begonias at any Show in the country.  A new introduction was the charity pond which over the years benefited many local causes.  We now had twelve classes and these had been divided into Open, Intermediate and Novice 

   In addition to our Show and meetings coach trips were proving popular. Our annual pilgrimage to Blackmore & Langdon's open days prior to the Chelsea Show together with weekends away were organised by the late Ernie Bryant. We tried to expand along the coast to Southampton but in spite of staging some very attractive, if modest, displays for several years local support was not forthcoming.

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After the 1988 Show  Dave Coates took over as South Coast Rep. and Vernon Upfield as Show Secretary. New recruits continued to reinforce our numbers and our classes at the Show grew to twenty, these took up so much space that we were allocated the entire end of the floral marquee, an area that we continued to occupy until our last Show at Southsea.

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 Each year the stand varied in some way,  the 1997 display  was steeply banked as in the previous three years, it was however to  be be the last big massed display. We had lost two or three key contributors and could no longer muster the 140 or so plants needed to fill the 20' of staging. To counteract this we tried to add more artistic effect, mainly in the form of a garden.   The competitive classes continued to thrive. 

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In 1998 the Society introduced Area Championships and honoured us by holding the first competition at Southsea, classes were for 6 pots and also for 6 cut blooms, the classes augmented our own regular ones and on the day there were 164 blooms and 82 pots on the showbenches.                 

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The 2002 Show was our 30th.  The only surviving founder member Brian Simmons was forced to withdraw from all classes and from contributing towards the Stand due to a severe attack of tarsonamid mite in his begonias.  This left the display a little short on plants, but in spite of this it was an excellent Show with entries well up on the previous year.

2004, although at the time of the Show we did not realise it, this was to be our last year at Southsea.  Ever increasing costs and other problems forced a rethink and we decided that after 32 years it was time for a change. We would take the bold decision to hold our own Show.

2005. The decision paid off. The new venue, Portchester Parish Hall where we held our meetings, a new building with plenty of light and extensive facilities.  We no longer had the problem of admission passes, traffic congestion and spiralling costs. We  missed being right by the sea and being part of a very large show but at the end of the day it was all getting too much for us.

2009. Our last Show, and the end of an era. Or so we thought at the time.

2010. Not quite the end!
We were offered tables at the Solent Fuchsia Club Show and staged 5 Classes:
6, 3 & 1 cut-blooms. 1 pot and 1pot restricted.

Area Representative Dave Coates stepped down after 21 years.
We are extremely grateful to Dave for his sterling service to the Society.
Not only an expert grower and exhibitor, the results of his hybridizing are widely to be found on the
show-benches. Dave is to continue as a Society Judge.

Nichola Coates, Vera Coates, Pauline Coates, Emily Rose, Fantasia, Fanfare, Gypsy, Geoff Bizley, Portchester.

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Dave Coates joined the Society in 1975 and quickly established himself as a leading exhibitor and hybridiser.  Amongst his introductions are Nichola Coates (named after his daughter), Vera Coates (mother), Pauline Coates (wife), Emily Rose (grand-daughter) and Geoff Bizley (late friend) are among the most widely exhibited varieties.                                                           Pictures

After two years at the Solent Fuchsia Club Show we were kindly offered space at Havant Garden Centre. where we changed back to a two day Show.
Dave continued as Show Secretary.

Kevin Myerscough appointed Area Representative and takes over as Show Secretary for a one day Show at Havant Garden Centre.

Kevin resigns as Area Representative after the Show.
Philip Champion appointed.

In the absence of an Area Rep and venue we had exhibitors that still wanted to show.
 In order to achieve this  we approached Purbrook Horticultoral Society
 and agreed the South Coast Area Show would form part of their show.
Pictures & Results

.Memories of Southsea          Memories of Portchester