The National Begonia Society



On the road again
Michael Richardson
South West Journey - Spring 2019

Setting the scene
2018 - February 17th – Saturday – Manningford Community Hall - National Begonia Society AGM – Myself and Terry Tasker are sat together chatting when John Chiswell appears and sits down next to Terry. He then proceeds to ensnare Terry to address the masses at the 2019 South West Area Society meeting, Terry then looks at me and asks if I would be his chauffer for the day to which I agreed on one condition – we can get into Blackmore & Langdons first. John agreed and the contract as they say was signed and sealed.
Fast forward approx. 13 months and we find out that the South West Area meeting clashes with the Scottish Begonia Society 2019 April meeting not only that but one of a travelling group Mr Robert Bryce was giving the talk to the Scottish Begonia Society – this has not happened before.
So not only was I gutted that one of our party was missing from this road trip but it was made even worse by the fact I was missing the April trip North of the border for the Scottish Begonia Society's April meeting.
So the North West posse was spilt – one car went North and one car went South.

The Journey
So Terry Tasker (left) Chairman of the National Begonia Society – Peter Sourbutts (right) Vice Chairman of the National Begonia Society and Dave Weatherby (centre) National Begonia Society North West Area Rep met at mine for 6am and we left and headed South and the first stop Blackmore & Langdons via Strensham Services on the M5 – see the 3 “charming young men” in the picture on the right which was taken at the services – Since I was acting as chauffer, cameraman and “carer” for the NBS hierarchy for the day. 

Blackmore & Langdons
We arrived at Blackmore and Langdons for just after 10am and split up pretty much straight away going our separate ways.
I went into the B&L first greenhouse to see the plants that they were growing for the Chelsea and Hampton Court Flower Shows with John Chiswell.
John explained how they were growing them slightly different this year, as too many flowers went past their past by the time Hampton Court Flower Show came round –

The views of plants from left to right

A   The plants in the 1st picture are being grown in their normal Bulrush begonia mix.
B   The plants in the 2nd picture are being grown in their Bulrush begonia mix and John Innes No2.
C   The plants in the 3rd picture are in a straight John Innes No2 mix.
D   And just to finish the row of pictures off probably the most sought after Double Tuberous Begonia of the moment -
         John Hamilton’s Moira Callan.





I would like to have had time to speak to Nicholas Langdon properly about these mixes etc, but as you can imagine he was running around after everyone as we were only there for a short time. – I hope he does an article for the National Begonia Society Bulletin about the results and his findings on these x 3 “mixes”.
Also sneaking in at the bottom end of their exhibition show plants were some planted in a wool mix compost!!!! It would also be interesting to hear how they got on with that result wise.

And below x3 pictures showing buds starting to break open

As you can see by the x2 pictures below – I caught Terry Tasker red handed taking cuttings from the “funny coloured leaf” begonias (don’t worry Nick gave him permission, well that’s what Terry said…)

Dave Weatherby on the other hand was looking through all the different types of double tuberous begonias to see what goodies he could pick up as you can see in the picture to the left. I very much doubt there are many varieties left that he has not got.
 I would not be surprised if in the next year or two he applies for the National Double Tuberous Begonia collection status. I know he purchased a couple of B&L’s super selected collection.
I would like to tell you where and what Peter Sourbutts got up to but I don’t know as he disappeared pretty much straight away – it was Peter’s first time visiting Blackmore & Langdons so no doubt he had a good mooch around.

After approx. 2hrs we said our goodbyes and left Blackmore & Langdons for the 30+ minute drive to a lovely pub we usually go to have a meal with everyone. Whilst we were having dinner Terry and myself tried to tout out Dave Weatherby or Peter Sourbutts to do a talk next year for them but John Cheiswell told us he had already arranged for John & Mari Hamilton to visit and deliver the talk to the South West Area in 2020. So it looks like we are booking our dinner reservations for 2020 now. 

The Venue – Grove Sports Centre, Nailsea
When you entered the room where the meeting was being held, you were met by a fantastic sight.
Garry Dando who is pictured on the right with Terry Tasker has moved into growing the species side of the begonia family now as you can see by the excellent display he put on for everyone in the x4 pictures below – he said his Keder Greenhouse was ideal for growing them in.


There were also a number of plants for sale so people could take something home with them, and it also helped put some funds into the Areas kitty.
It was great to meet up and renew old friendships with the likes of Derek Skinner and Basil Billinger and also meet new members like Robert Reed.

The Talk
Then it was Terry Taskers moment in the spotlight, and boy did he take the moment by the scruff of the neck.

His talk started off with the History of the begonia then moved on to his specialist subject the species side of the begonia family. The way he “pronounced” some of the names of people involved in the evolution of the begonia in the early years and some of the Latin plant names was a stroke of genius and reduced the audience to tears on more than a couple of occasions. The picture to the left shows him in action. He even put in to his talk a number of antidotes from experiences from his life in growing.
His “coo de gra” came when he showed a newly unearthed picture of Michael Begon as you can see by the picture to the right…… that as they say, brought the house down, and got quickly posted on the NBS Facebook page by a member of the audience that was present.
Some members of the audience for want of a better word “heckled” him in a nice friendlyway but were met with brutal put downs also in good natured way.

At one point he went after yours truly but the picture to the left proves the plant he gave me is still alive.



After his talk he took questions from the audience, and answered everything that was asked of him.

I would like to thank everyone we met through the day for the friendship & kindness shown to us and not forgetting friendly natured banter & humour, once again we had a great trip to the South West Area meeting.

Not long after that we made are farewells and set of on the 4hr journey back from Nailsea.



Articles by Michael Richardson

2016 Diary
Growers in the Spotlight - North & South of the Border
Judging - My first experience