.The start of the day
todays trip would be based around our first ever visit to Steve
& Jane Jones home and the Inaugural meeting of the new Central Area
Begonia Society – Also it got Robert and Peter out of their basket
weaving class at the Shady Oaks retirement home.
Robert arrived at mine for 730am (I gave him a bit of a lie in today)
and he had a good mooch around my plants. I thought he might have some
comments about the marks and colours on some of the foliage but he said
they looked good – and the issues I was worried about were down to
the cold month of May we had just suffered with.
We had agreed to meet Peter Sourbutts at Lymm Truck Stop on the M6 as he
was leaving his car there.
arrived before Peter and just as we parked up spotted this old Ferrari
parked not so far from us as you can see in the picture to the
left, it was in mint condition and everyone was taking pictures of it.
Robert then saw this modern sports car a TVR Tuscan (see picture
to the right ), it was a nice motor and with a bit of help I could have
got in it but no way would I get out of the seats as they were within inches of
There must have been 4 or 5 different groups - for example classic Audi Quattros, Subarus, classic Capris
all meeting up before leaving to where
ever they were rallying to.
It certainly passed the time until Peter arrived and got him and his
belongings into the car and then off we set.
Now I had preset the car’s satnav with Steve & Jane Jones address and on
its advice we headed South down the M6. Just as we neared Birmingham it
said to go on the M6 toll which brought condemnation from the 2 back
seat drivers – I was not complaining as I like my large cappuccino
coffee from Costa’s at Norton Caines services, and so on to the M6 toll
road we went. When we left the Services the satnav told us to head North
back up the M6 through the toll booth plaza (we had paid to travel no more than
3 miles) then it told us to come off the next junction across a couple of
roundabouts and dropped us back on the “old” M6 but now heading south
bound to come off for the M5 – the grief I got from my travelling
companions with – "I told you so" – needless to say they took no prisoners
and didn’t half give me & the satnav some grief.
**It was decided by many discussions throughout the day that because the
satnav was set for the fastest route, then the system thinks that up to
10am it will be quicker to go via the Toll road, M42 and back to the M5
than going through Birmingham rush hour traffic - so after 10am it then
thinks the morning rush hour traffic is clear and its then straight down
the M6 and come straight off the M5 and Kidderminster…. – flawed logic or
not but we are sticking to it.
Steve & Jane Jones Home
eventually arrived at the Jones household for around 11ish, and were met
by Steve & Jane themselves – see
picture to the left.
Robert and Peter went straight through and outside with Steve – whilst I
asked Jane who had the musical taste as there was a big keyboard system
set up and a guitar on a stand with sheet music in front of
it – it turns out Jane plays them and sings in a group / choir.
First thing you see when you go outside is their Koi Carp pond, and
under the wooden flooring you walk over is housed the filtration
system which I thought was brilliant as it is totally out of sight so
no ugly buildings at either end housing the filtration systems as
the pictures show from left to right
Picture 1 – Shows his first pond which has plant life in
with types of goldfish – this pond is not linked to the main Koi pond as
Steve says the Koi carp would eat everything vegetative in it.
Picture 2 – Shows the walkway between the x2 ponds, and underneath it is
housed the filtration system.
Picture 3 – His Koi Carp pond
Picture 4 – just some of his healthy looking Koi Carp, Steve explained
how he monitores the water for “things” that could cause problems for
the Koi as well explaining what visual things he looks for on the fish
to ensure they stay in perfect health.
addition to begonias he
grows Bonsai trees and a few vegetables, he explained the culture of
Bonsai to develop the roots he wants before chopping the root system to get
them into the special bonsai pots. What surprised me was that he leaves
them outside all year round and really does not have to protect them.
The first x3 pictures running from left to right below show you his
bonsai collection, and the 4th picture shows how he
trains and develops an acer's root systems in a shallow tray for a couple
of years before cutting and trimming them to fit their final
bonsai shallow dish –
Propagating Greenhouse -
Now for something I have never seen or heard of before in a greenhouse,
to give you a clue please see picture to the left – as this was
the warning sign that greeted you.
The following 4 pictures below show -
Picture 1 - Steve’s tortoises own and accommodate the bottom half of his
propagating greenhouse and Steve has the use of the top half only.
Picture 2 - When they want some fresh air, then they just exit their
“tortoise flap” and enter a protected outside play area.
Picture 3 – A tortoise.
Picture 4 – The “Great Escape” in progress – as Steve explained if a
tortoise can see light he will tunnel under to get out.
And now the Steve & Jane’s begonias
Greenhouse is 20ft x10ft as you can see to via the picture to
you look to the left hand side corner of the picture, under the wooden
staging you can see a large plastic tank and is 1 of 2 tanks side by
side. Now I have never seen this kind of set up before in a greenhouse
as they are rain water collectors and with them being in the greenhouse
the water is at the temperature of the greenhouse – pre heated water at
no extra cost – simple but brilliant.
The pictures below running give you a closer look –
Picture 1 – Some of his fantastic looking pot plants that were on the
right hand side.
Picture 2 – More good looking pot plants running across the bottom of
Picture 3 – Down the left hand side were some plants he is aiming at
Picture 4 – Underneath the staging were cutting tubers and slow growing
The picture below shows another plant out of this greenhouse
where he has side shoots on side shoots,
The plants in this greenhouse are some of the best looking I have
seen this year – his potting mix for all his plants is
parts multipurpose, 2 parts Johns Innes No2 & 1 part Grit.
*** Now I know there is a big debate about mixing composts since big
companies like the John Innes Institute, Levingtons & Singletons have
spent small fortunes making the perfect mix for them…
why do growers mix them up to create their own new mix when I very much
doubt many have it checked out to get the new formulation… But does it
matter as long as it works as it certainly does with Steve’s plants.
*** The other point of contention is do the plants in
pots need air getting or moving through or to the bottom of them as
Steve has all his pots on a solid bottom saucer… once again it’s
something you are told not to do but once again it works for Steve.
His second Greenhouse is 8ft x 6ft
greenhouse houses his restricted stem plants – single stem with no side
shoots & single stem with side shoots - and again has some single stem
plants that he is looking at trying to put a single flower on. You can
also see that he is trying “the old piece of cardboard at the back of
the growing point of the plant trick”. This is to make the plant think
that the sun light is only coming from one direction so it does not bend
backwards but keeps growing straight up.
The 3 pictures below show you the plants that
he is growing in it –
Picture 1 – full view of the greenhouse.
Picture 2 – view of the left hand side.
Picture 3 – view of the right hand side.
x2 pictures below show where Steve houses / stores any late developers
and rooted cuttings
was at this point Jane brought out some bacon butties so we all sat on
the patio table in shade as it was touching 26ºc – yes I said
26oc. By mid afternoon it had hit 28ºc.
of us Northerners had experienced heat like this before this year because Peter
and Robert had been abroad, whilst I had seen nothing like it this year.
Steve told us they had had this weather for nearly 4 weeks now, their
lawn was browning due to lack of water and the soil in his garden
borders was bone dry.
Not long after we had another visitor join us in the form of John
Winfield – the first x3 pictures running from left to right below show
everyone apart from Jane who was getting ready and the 4th
picture was a cracking hanging basket of a developing plant of Isabella –
also took the following two pictures of other plants I found in Steve &
Jane's garden that I was very impressed with –
Picture 1 – A magnificent Cockscrew Hazel plant
Picture 2 – A lovely rhododendron in full bloom
before we left for the meeting, we checked out another ‘hobby” of theirs
that was in their garage – their classic MG – as you can see in the x2
pictures below –
Was 5 minutes away or as Jane Jones said “it’s just round the
corner” all I can say it’s a good job I drove there.
Claines Parish Hall
venue was a lovely old church hall pretty much like the meeting place
that the East of Scotland hold their meetings at but just a little
bigger. As you approached the Parish Hall you could see the new area
banner welcoming you there as you can see by the picture to
the meeting room Steve had laid out the NBS and the area paraphernalia
for members to look at and Jane had supplied a table full of goodies to
eat. John Winfield had brought enough plants to fill x2 tables for the
plant raffle that was to be held later.
Jones took the floor and got everyone’s attention and made a short
speech before handing the meeting over to the speaker for the afternoon
none-other than Mr Robert Bryce who then introduced himself and started
his talk. You can see him ready to go in the picture to the
Robert's talk covered all the basics for the new growers and then went in
depth with his feeding programmes for the more experienced grower.
had an interval break for a drink and some of Jane's homemade cakes. Steve also held a raffle and yours truly’s
number came out 2nd. One of the raffle prizes was a plant
of Geisha Girl – A few years ago on a trip to the East of Scotland and
Fife Flower Show, John Hamilton showed a cut bloom of Geisha Girl and it
was a bloody good flower and the first time I had seen this variety
exhibited as a cut bloom and I remember asking John about it and he said
this variety was capable of producing a good cut bloom – so I chose the
Steve also handed out raffle tickets to everyone, and when their name
was drawn they could have first pick at the
plants John Winfield had supplied, they then paid John for it – the numbers
kept getting drawn out until they had all gone.
resumed the meeting and Mr Bryce finished off the remainder of the
talk. At the end he got a good round of applause and Steve promptly closed the first meeting at the new venue.
all helped return the room to as we found it, and Steve and Jane invited
us back for something to eat before we set off back. Now Peter Sourbutts
had already asked if we were stopping off on the way home for something
to eat so we gladly accepted their very kind offer.
Peter and Robert sat basking in the evening sun with a drink of Guinness,
myself with my lemonade and Jane with her drink of gin. We sat
chatting for a good hour or so before Robert Bryce asked the time –
1930hrs – so we decided to tear ourselves away and make our long journey
home. On the way out Jane showed us Steve's handy work with paintings he
had done and were hung on their living room wall and believe me they
were very good.
did eventually make our farewells and left them in peace and started our
long journey home.
The Journey back
had put the satnav on and it was a good job because as we
passed Hilton Park Services a police car passed us at 100+mph and when
we neared Stoke the satnav told us to come off the motorway so we did,
even though matrix signs said nothing was out of the ordinary and we
joined back on the M6 at the next junction – there was no traffic at
all coming up on the north bound side of the M6 when we joined,so the
motorway must have been shut due to an accident.
all the grief the satnav system and I got earlier in the day – well she
made up for it.
dropped Peter Sourbutts off at Lymm Truck Stop and we got back to mine
for 21:30 and Robert left for the 30 minutes drive back to his house in
Back at home
Within 30 minutes of getting home I had potted up the plant of Geisha
Girl, stripped it of 4 cuttings and potted them up in coir, see the 4
pictures below –
to finish x2 pictures - when I woke up the following morning a good
4inch of rain had fallen in the 24hr period we had been out, and I still
have two greenhouses with bubble insulation up due to the cold weather
we are still experiencing up here.
would like to thank Steve & Jane Jones for a fabulous day.
Until next time….