Episode 13 –
Quite a few
years ago, an old work colleague of mine who was just about the most
fanatical golfer you could ever meet, eventually took his turn as Club
Captain. At the end of his big year, I couldn’t resist ribbing him; you
know the sort of things – yesterday’s man, losing your Captains parking
spot etc. – but he just looked at me in disbelief and said No! I am now
the Immediate Past Captain! Well, I think Immediate Past National
Champion has quite a nice ring to it!
to Phil Champion, thoroughly deserved winner with a memorable 12 board –
see below left, with 4 superb Sweet Dreams, one on each corner,
best pink with Falstaff and best white or cream with Symestar.
He also won the 6 board that included best picotee or bi-colour with
Bali Hi. Earlier in the year, Phil had me looking forward to
seeing his Mrs. E McLauchlan as he told me that he thought he had
the measure of it and I have to say I wasn’t disappointed when I saw the
one he had on his 12 board – below middle. It’s a variety that I really
like, but I stopped growing it only because I couldn’t quite achieve the
required size, so perhaps now I need to think again!
He also won
best red with Linda Jackson in the single board. Now you may
think, why put a potential best bloom contender in the single board –
and you would be right, but the photo below right may give you a clue.
At first glance, you may wonder why there is a half pint of beer stood
in front of it, well I don’t drink halves, it’s a pint; it just looks
like a half because the bloom had to be close to12 inches across, which
is why it wasn’t on his 12 board – it was just too big, however the
proportions were spot on, clean with no sign of coarseness and a good
I was delighted
with the runner’s up spot in the 12 board – below left and also best
orange with one of my favourite varieties, Tequila Sunrise –
below right. Actually I was just delighted to be there with flowers
because if the weather hadn’t cooled down a bit the weekend before and
stayed cool until cutting I really would have struggled. As it turned
out, the 29 blooms that I took were just about the last of the 86 that
were secured for Shrewsbury but by the Wednesday evening before the show
I knew that I had made it which meant that I wasn’t as nervous on the
Thursday as I normally am.
Best bloom went
to Robert Bryce with Moira Callan – below. He tipped this variety
a few years back to be a winner and said it was the best new variety he
had seen in many years and on it’s current run of good form no one will
argue with that!
far too much time thinking up various ridiculously over-complicated
methods to make my boxes more secure in the car, I eventually settled
for a low-tech solution and it worked perfectly – below left. I even
remembered that I would have to remove them in the dark and so was well
prepared with my head torch and screwdriver at the ready, below right!
Around the show
It’s great that
a flower show can bring people with a common obsession from all over the
country together at the same time, it’s just a pity that there aren’t
more opportunities because I personally feel that I learn so much by
talking and listening to other exhibitors, not to mention meeting up
with friends for a good natter.
I had a great
time reminiscing with George Hawkins about our time growing
chrysanthemums. When you think about it, there are quite a few
chrysanthemum growers who have defected to begonias and I for one have
few regrets. If you could squeeze 36 hours into a day and 12 days into a
week I might even manage to grow both flowers (not to mention the extra
space I would need) but in truth, for all of the complaints we have
about the weather right now, at least for me I don’t miss the
devastating effect the wind sometimes has on the plants when they first
went out onto the standing ground, or the thought of wearing a hat, coat
and scarf for a long evening session in the greenhouse in early November
in the run up to the shows, and especially staging in freezing cold
conditions during the night – I really must be getting soft because it
didn’t bother me one bit back in the day!
Here are a few
photos from the trophy presentations in the afternoon – apologies to
anyone who I have missed. Below from left –
Phil Champion, Steve Jones,
Peter Sourbutts, Joy Dando, Gary Dando and Robert Bryce.
August – see below – and it feels like ‘Deja vu all over again’, as the
famous American baseball player Yogi Berra once said, but he also said
‘It ain’t over ‘til it’s over’, so I’ll just keep going with everything
crossed! Ten whole days to go until cutting for Dundee and I seem in a
more precarious position than I was for Shrewsbury, but at least the
temperatures for the run in look favourable, so coupled with the
reducing day length (yes, I’m really clutching at straws now) it’s as
much as I can hope for.
I had some
concerns at bud securing time that the top leaves on some plants were
underdeveloped and the blooms on these plants seem to be confirming my
fears at this stage. I will experiment with an additional high potash
feed for these plants as there appears to be nothing to
ideally I need to learn from this experience and be more observant in
the run up to bud securing from now on. Colour run seems to be almost
absent which is always welcome news.
exhibited my first 12 board, I was told on more than one occasion that
one of the most difficult things about getting a really competitive
entry for the British Championship was the ‘extra variety’. This is
because where other 12 board classes require a minimum of eight
varieties, the British is for a minimum of nine and although this may
not seem that significant, anyone who has tried will tell you different.
It’s not just a case of having that ninth variety, it has to be up to
the standard of the rest of your board and everyone who has exhibited in
this class will tell you how challenging it can sometimes be. Please,
please don’t be put off by this; it’s a great thing to be part of – and
To be honest I
am a bit disappointed. The majority have produced blooms that are
smaller than last year when they were only first year seedlings – I
suppose this is an example of what is commonly called hybrid vigour.
criteria that I had planned to gauge them by were:
A very good
in the middle of the bloom – sounds like another Yogi Berra
quotation but you know what I mean!
These to me,
after talking to growers with lots of hybridising knowledge seems to be
absolute must haves, even before you start to look at form, size and
colour. Well, none of those that I selected to grow on had anything to
get excited about and sadly none of them will be kept for next year. One
or two looked as if they were going to be really exciting colour breaks
as the oyster opened – when Colin saw
one of them he couldn't believe it was a Powder Puff and Tom Brownlee
cross. Sadly the colour faded from what believe it or
not looked something like a green and mauve bi-colour to a dull pink as
the bloom matured and ended up a disappointment like the rest of them.
Within a couple
of days after getting back from the show, I had topped all of the plants
that had flowered, binned the ones that had issues and moved those that
I am keeping a little bit closer together. The extra space created
allowed me to move the balance of my Dundee plants out of the Alton
which then meant I could move the cuttings that were on the floor up
onto the benches to give them some better light. I also removed most of
the fleece from inside the glass to improve it even further. Hopefully
this will give them a good run in to the autumn months and produce some
decent tubers for next year.
Have you ever
wondered why they put all those holes in the middle of building bricks?
A recent begonia inspired discovery of mine has revealed the answer!
What’s keeping me awake at night?
confident that I am no different from any other begonia grower when it
comes to ‘The List’ – what are my bankers and how many to grow of each
one, which varieties are on the endangered list and what is top of the
wanted list. Well, we arrived home from Shrewsbury around 2.30 on the
Saturday afternoon and I admit that I had been thinking about ‘The List’
on the drive home. I was in through the front door and out into the
garden in seconds. First a quick look in the Shrewsbury greenhouse, just
to make sure that I hadn’t missed anything – as usual, on the drive down
on Thursday evening I kept fretting about this – then it was a quick
check of the Dundee plants before I started watering.
a couple of hours of pottering around, I got the laptop out and sat down
with a brew to make a start on this episode. Once I had done as much as
I could, I knew I couldn’t put it off any longer so I started a new
spreadsheet titled ‘2019 List’. A couple of hours later (time really
does fly when you are having fun) it was done. I didn’t realise I could
be so ruthless, but I am now down to 28 varieties from this current
years 40 – well that’s until I do version 2, which will then obviously
change quite a bit in version 3 and so on and so on – you all know what
I mean don’t you?