Caledonian Tours 2015’ Tour No 5
Sunday 10th May
that time again when the x3 horseman of the apocalypse saddled up and
headed North, but before we left myself and Vincent had a look in Robert
Bryce’s Greenhouse, whilst he was getting his things together for his
talk to the Scottish Begonia Society.
Most of his plants had been potted up and he had given them a couple of
sprays of Maxicrop Growth Stimulant as a foliar feed over the last week.
They had turned the corner from when I last saw them. The man certainly
knows his plants and can read their needs and what to do to pull them
back on track however Robert stated he is at least 10 days behind and
will be hard to pull that growing time back.
We left Roberts and had a clear run until we hit Shap, as we left the
lakes then the heavens opened and we had rain all the way up to Junction
12 on the M74 where we came off for Coalburn and John Hamilton’s home.
arrived at Johns we found him potting up his plants in his “inner
sanctum” / greenhouse. They
had been potted up over the last couple of
weeks and looked really well. He had also
been hanging up
some hanging baskets from
the “roof” as you can see from the picture on the right.
He still had a number of plants to pot up as you can see with the
picture on the left.
John explained to Vincent with Robert how his misting unit worked (see
picture at the bottom, they all of a sudden went shy….) with regards
rooting his cuttings as this way worked best for John.
After a good hour at Johns we left with John for Robert Nelsons.
running a little late when we arrived at Roberts so before he
gave us a guided tour we were ushered into his kitchen for a brew and a
bacon roll followed by a conversation that was believe it or not, not
about begonias for a change but politics due to the elections earlier in
the week. After a cup
of tea Robert took us outside and showed his “2nd
greenhouse” first, his plants looked well as you can see from the picture
on the left. The eagled eyed almost you will notice that Robert has
saucers under all his plants as he waters from the bottom of the pot and
finds this way works for him.
(Brian Simmons the master of our website has since mentioned that he
sits his pots on saucers and waters from the bottom of the pot as well).
His propagating greenhouse was full of cuttings and his Pot Plants with
his slow growing plants sat on his hotbox.
His main greenhouse had his most advanced plants in and to be honest
they looked really healthy and at present he looked in good shape for
this stage of the year as you can see by the picture on the left.
At this point we had to leave so Robert and John could get to the
Scottish Begonia Societies committee meeting.
in time for John and Robert to attend the committee meeting and myself, Robert & Vincent chatted with other members who were there early as
At their May meeting the Scottish Begonia Society hold a plant sale to
raise funds for the society, all the plants are donated by the members
and they are all priced £5. All the members in attendance at the meeting
are issued with a raffle ticket on arrival, then the tickets are drawn
out of a bag and when your raffle ticket is drawn you can go up and
choose a plant which you just take to the
“ladies” and pay your £5 and they put it in a bag for you. This happens until all the plants have gone. All the plants
I have had from their plant sale have contained a started cutting
tuber, so it is well worth £5.
This is one of the main ways the Scottish Begonia Society raises funds.
plant sale had ended Samuel Kennedy handed the floor over to our own Mr
Bryce who then conjured up a near miracle by delivering a talk that was
pretty much un-hecklable.
Yes that’s right, hecklers corner was filled and ready – John Hamilton,
Kennedy McQuiston, Ian Donaldson, Jim Irvine, Tom Auld and even Derek
Nimo had joined the table and then Robert Bryce delivered a talk on the
History of Begonia Hybridisation!!!!! And silence fell on the audience
whilst he delivered his talk which was very informative and interesting and was well received
by all present.
After we had mingled and chatted for a while we made our farewells and
set off back South to drop John Hamilton at his home first before the
long drive home. At Johns he asked if we wanted a brew before we set off
back, and before anyone replied I was out of the car like a shot – you
can never refuse a brew before a long drive.
When we reached Abington Services on the M74 the rain hit us and it threw it
down until Gretna, then it eased off and we had a normal drive
We dropped Robert off at approx. 2030hrs, and then Vincent at approx. 2045hrs and I finally got home about 2130hrs;
another tour North completed.
excursion No 5” – (This was unplanned)
Sunday 24th May – 40 East Lancs Rd, Blackburn
give you an update on Mr Bryce’s plants – they are moving, and catching
up fast – Like I said before he is now on a mission to put us “young uns”
back in our place. Just like a wounded animal he is at his most
dangerous when he is on his back foot so to speak.
And just as he gives off the impression that he might be slowing up,
well let me tell you he has rebuilt half his hotbox / propagator and
is starting on the other side of his propagating greenhouse now.
“Local excursion No 6” – (This was planned)
Sunday 24th May - 27 Woodmoss Lane, Scarisbrick
We arrived at Peter Sourbutts at approx. 10:30hrs and was greeted by Peter and he
ushered us into
his first greenhouse, just one word described how I felt
when I saw his plants – gobsmacked – we all were, just look at the
picture on the left.
At this point he bellowed out his battle cry “come on Jonesie” it’s
building up to be a battle royal between these 2 for the Seven Pots of
Tuberous Double Begonias – British Championship.
His 1st greenhouse had a single level of staging that ran all round his
greenhouse; on the right hand side he had his most advanced pot plants.
Across the back ran his hotbox and down the left hand side he had some
smaller pots that where looking good as well. Above the “bottom staging”
he had a 2nd staging system that ran around his greenhouse to form a
narrower staging system which he could dismantle to open everything up
for his pot plants. On this 2nd tier staging he had his smaller plants
and a lot of rooted cuttings he had taken from off his bedding plants.
Peter keeps the temperature of this greenhouse at 5°c.
I will mention that he mixes different mediums together for his
potting mixes, but how can you say it’s wrong when he can grow plants
like he does. The moral of this story is you do what suits you and your
One thing Peter did do that I have not heard of before is that he mixes
his medium in x20 Litre batches then adds a x2 litre mixture of Provado
vine weevil killer and lets it soak through
then mixes it in, so when he pots his plants in it the roots take it up
straight away and the plant is protected.
I will be honest and next year I will copy Peter and do the same time,
however I will mix my mix as normal then measure out batches of 20
Litres and soak it through with Provado vine weevil killer.
At this point Peter’s better half June appeared with a brew and homemade
cherry scones and boy were they delicious. At this point I will mention
that earlier in the week June had been to the Queens garden party, she
had been invited through her charity work.
Peter then took us to the top of his garden to his 2nd
greenhouse which was full of begonia bedding plants, and this time the
greenhouse was unheated – Peter, Vincent and Robert then had a lengthy
discussion about which begonia bedding plants were the best. For example –
Bon Bon Sherbet or Cherry – Glowing Embers and the new one Sparkles and
Vincent called time on our visit so we could get round
everyone, we thanked June & Peter for “putting up” with us and then
set of to Mr Southport himself Terry Tasker.
“Local excursion No 7” –
Sunday 24th May – Churchtown, Southport
We were greeted by Terry at his door and shown through his house to the
garden at the back. On the
way through we went through a room full of
art/sculptures and myself and Vincent just had to stop and look. Terry
and Robert disappeared into the garden just as Terry’s wife Shirley came
in; to our utter amazement she said it was all her own work. I just had to
take a picture of them, please see the picture on the left. Shirley
went on to tell us how she teaches art and takes classes in making
sculptures, she then kindly explained how she made the frames for the
figures then how she covered them to give them shape. All the time I
just could not help touching them I was expecting to be told off at any
moment, but Shirley did not seem to worry too much and let us touch them
- well me anyway.
After a little longer we joined Terry and Robert in one of Terry’s
He had x4 tiers of staging running the full length on either side of
this greenhouse. His Ayr plants were on the right and his Southport
plants on the left. All the plants in this greenhouse were in their final pots and all had a cane already in
position for when he is ready to tie his plants to the cane. This he
said would probably be next week.
Another thing Terry did that I had not seen before was as well as spraying
his begonias with Maxicrop Growth Stimulant he also put it in the water
so his plants get it as a root drench as well at each watering.
His 2nd greenhouse had a single level staging running the
full length on both sides of this greenhouse as you can on the left with
a very photogenic Mr Bryce. On the left had side he had a heated mat
that must have been over 10ft long at least 3ft wide, when he takes his
cuttings he stands his pot and cutting on the mat for a little bottom
heat. On the left of this greenhouse he had some fantastic looking
After we had a long chat Vincent said we must be going, so for the first
time I let my subject choose his pose – what did he do!!! Cuddled one of
his plants – see the picture on the right.
So we said our farewells to Terry and Shirley but as I was leaving I
noticed another of Shirley’s sculptures hanging on the wall at the
bottom of the stairs and just like before I just had to touch it, it was
of an angel looking at the moon and Shirley explained how she made it. I
eventually caught up with Vincent, Robert and Terry talking by the car.
“Local excursion No 8” –
Sunday 24th May – Cleveleys
We made are way from Southport to Cleveleys to visit Tom and Jennifer
Roberts who attend the North West Area Chorley meetings.
The journey took forever because Vincent set his “sat nav” not to include
motorways or A roads, or that’s what it seemed. Vincent got a lot of
stick off me and Robert as we followed what seemed the old roman road
way to Cleveleys. He even resorted to arguing with the “sat nav” - that
made it worse as Robert and I could not stop laughing.
Sometime later we eventually found our destination and were greeted by
Jennifer who told us Tom was in the greenhouse. When we found him he
explained how his wife and daughter had taken over his greenhouse and
basically evicted him, so he had to build another greenhouse for his
plants. Tom showed us his plants and explained how he grew them, and
then he showed us what he called his disaster area where he kept his
Jennifer eventually joined us with the cups of tea, at this point Tom
told us how he remembered his parents taking him to Southport flower show
in 1933 when he was 3 years old in his buggy and all he could remember
was seeing people’s feet and bums. From that you may be able to roughly
work his age out, and believe me he is as active as ever – that’s
probably because he dare not take his eyes off his wife and daughter or
they will take over the greenhouses and entirely rule the garden.
Now Jennifer and Vincent decided to compare medical ailments whilst Tom
told us about his and his daughter’s triumphs at their local show last
year, and explained how his daughter had built a “stumpery” around their
pond – just because Prince Charles had one.
At this point Jennifer brought out some sandwiches made with her own
homemade bread and a homemade chocolate cake – the hardships we have to
face on our travels.
Once again Vincent called time on our visit as it had turned 1700hrs,
how time flies when you are having fun.
We said are farewells and made our way home, dropping
Robert off first and just before Vincent got out of the car I turned round
and said “we are running out of gardens to visit!!” Who knows where we
might turn up next…. Or get invited too!!!
Until next time….