The National Begonia Society



On the road again
Michael Richardson
Scottish Begonia Society Meeting and Phil Champion's Talk

I woke up to another frost covered car at 5am as illustrated in the picture to the left, but instead of going to work I was heading to Blackburn and the home of Robert Bryce where I was also meeting up with Dave Weatherby and Terry Tasker there as well.

I will add at this point that Terry Tasker was making this journey with some trepidation due to certain shenanigans that went on when he gave a talk to the South West Area back in April which involved one certain ex-pat named Phil Champion.

So I left at 0530am to get to Mr Bryce’s home for 6am – now at this point my warped sense of humor always brings a smile to my face driving over to Robert's at this time of the morning because its probably the only times of the year where Robert Bryce, and Terry Tasker for that matter of fact, see 2 x 6 o’clocks (0600am & 1800hrs) in one day.

On arriving at Mr Bryce’s home I found Terry & Dave Weatherby had already arrived and were having a brew. Robert then showed us where he stood with his plants at present and I hope he does not mind me saying but I think it’s the worst I have ever seen them – he has lost a lot of tubers over winter as his priorities have been elsewhere with his family.

So once again I was acting as chauffer, carer and photographer for the day – you can see the x3 golden oldies in the picture (right) I took just before we departed, from left to right we have Robert Bryce NBS Bulletin Editor, Terry Tasker NBS President and Dave Weatherby NBS North West Area Rep.

It was approx. 0630 hrs when we left Blackburn and headed North for our first stop of the day and that was Scotland – South Lanarkshire - Coalburn and the home of John & Mairi Hamilton.

John & Mairi Hamilton’s

We arrived at Coalburn and the Hamilton household for just after 9am only to find the curtains shut – first thoughts were “oh dear we are too early and everyone is still in bed”, then Mairi's head appeared between the curtains – we could then hear their x2 dogs barking and  John's head appeared as if my magic from behind the garden gate. Now John doesn’t usually greet us as we arrive, we usually find him busy working away in his greenhouses but we did have Dave “the gate breaker” Weatherby with us and the last time we called and visited John's he broke his gate clean off – then blamed John's shoddy workmanship saying it was only held on by 1 screw…..  Needless to say John has now x2 gates fitted just in case.

We headed straight to his greenhouses, and as you can see by the set of pictures below, Mairi had done a fantastic job keeping on top of them whilst John has been snowed under with work etc.



          Left to right:
                 1  The view that greets you when you go into the main greenhouse.
                 2  A monster of a plant that was at the top of their main greenhouse.
                 3  A section of plants in the centre section of his greenhouse complex where he has altered the roof.
                 4  Dave Weatherby holding a plant from out of this section just to give you some scale to see the size of the plants.

Back home my plants had been showing some weird marks and colours on the leafs, I noticed that John had the same kind of markings & colours so after asking him he explained about the effects of the cold etc on the plant – my fears were laid to rest so to speak, so inside I sighed a big sigh of relief.


Now at some point during the conversations it was mentioned that John & Mairi had been coaxed into having “Beachgrove garden” cameras visit their garden later in the year so a lot of bedding plants were required and with John being a canny Scot he had stripped his bedding begonias.


          Left to right:
                 1 & 2  His begonia bedding plants growing, but had already been stripped of its first “shoots”.
His begonia bedding cuttings rooted and ready to be potted on – and believe it or not that was Mairi’s job for the afternoon.
 We went back to the house where John brought out a pot full of tea so we had a brew and Mairi joined us with the x2 dogs, so we had a chat and put the world to rights as well as touching on the subject of begonias. We would be seeing John later at the meeting but we had to get to our second stop, so we said our farewells to John & Mairi and departed.

Robert & Margaret Nelson's

We arrived at Carluke and Robert Nelson's home for 1030ish and found him near his main greenhouse so we checked that out first. As you can see by the picture on the left Robert had already got his plants out into his main greenhouse and as you can see he had no insulation up as well.

Not long after we had arrived Tony Shepherdson and Colin Elsworth arrived and joined us all looking around Robert's greenhouses and garden.

In the picture you can also see some hanging baskets hung to the greenhouse roof, the green ones were just high enough where your head missed them but the white one was another story. I lost count the amount of times it “attacked” the unsuspecting passerby.
The eagled eyed amongst you will notice that Robert places an empty flower pot between each plant to help him space them out.

Now one thing that did cause a hot topic for discussion was that Robert was feeding a balanced Chempak feed already directly into the pot…. 

Now as per my plants, Johns & Roberts plants were all showing signs of the effect of cold weather – if you remember this time last year we had already had a good two weeks of warm sunny weather – yet in May 2019 we have had just the odd couple of days but the night temperatures are still dropping right out to close to freezing, below are x4 pictures showing some of the leaf issues I have suffered with –




The picture left shows Robert Nelson amongst his plants in his “middle” greenhouse.

The picture right shows some very healthy cuttings. Robert just covers the base of his propagator that you
can see in the picture with his medium that he uses for striking his cuttings in. He then takes them and just sticks them in en mass and puts the label with the name of that variety at the side of the relevant cutting and as you can see this way certainly works for him as they look happy and healthy.


Once again Margaret Nelson spoilt us with providing breakfast for us all, and after a good chat we had one more look round. Just before
we left I took the following picture of them all:

From left to right – Terry Tasker, Robert Bryce, Robert Nelson, Colin Elsworth, Margaret Nelson,
Dave Weatherby & Tony Shepherdson.


Scottish Begonia Society meeting and Phil Champion's talk

The meeting was being held at a new venue, at Tesco’s in Coatbridge – They have a “community room” that you can book and use for free. In these times the cost saving on not having to pay for a meeting room will certainly be a way forward for most societies and areas meetings with dwindling memberships and rising costs.

Phil Champion had a major setback 3 days before the meeting as his computer crashed losing his “talk” so on Saturday the day before the meeting he spent most of the day cobbling together a talk – and all credit to Phil he did a cracking job. His talk was based around his 2018 growing season which culminated in him winning another National Begonia Society 12 board Championship, he also stated that he aimed to win it again this year – so the challenge for us is to stop him.

 It was a huge slice of luck for Terry Tasker as it meant he got off lightly with Phil Champions “retaliation” for that scandalous “Michael Begon” picture that mysteriously surfaced on the National Begonia Societies Facebook web site.

There was a plant sale that was done by the way of raffle tickets, everyone was issued a raffle ticket on arrival and as the ticket numbers were pulled out of the hat the person with the drawn ticket got first pick of what was there and just took that plant and paid for it. The tickets were drawn until all the plants had gone.
After the meeting had finished there was to be a Scottish Begonia Society committee meeting, so we said our farewells and headed to the car and home

The Journey home

On the way home we had what sounded like chanting from the terraces in the back of the car with Robert Bryce singing “We're Man City and we fight fight fight to the end” and “Champione Champione” since he was a Manchester City fan and we had just finished listening to the match on the radio and due to their win they had won the Premier League title – also on the back seat was Dave Weatherday who in the meantime had gone to plant nod – as you can see by the final picture to the right.

It was another great trip North, the friendships – the banter and humour are what makes it all worthwhile and our hobby the pleasure that it is.


Until next time….


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