East of Scotland Begonia Society

This section is a record  of 2013 season meetings.

January 20th  Meeting

                Andy Paterson welcomed the members to the first meeting of the year. Andy was the speaker for the meeting and he gave a presentation on single stem pot plants which went very well.  It covered the starting up of his tubers using a heated propagator with the temperature set to around 65 Degrees F.    He explained start up compost was a seed compost with a quarter by volume sand or Perlite, then at first potting used 50/50 Multi purpose and John Inness compost, this mixture is probably the most common mixture in use by the growers in our society.

          When potting on into larger pots a maximum of  a 2" jump for example a 4" pot up to a 6" pot or a 5" pot up to a 7" pot.  He went on to explain the dangers of over potting plants, when watered the excessive soil around the tuber remains very wet and restricts proper root growth

              With his regime for feeding and timing for the show being discussed it was obvious it was very personal area, feeding and timings vary enormously between growers.

        At this point the meeting went to another level with an amazing amount of preferences, opinions and observations being aired between almost everyone at the meeting, and this continued right up to the end of the meeting. Overall an excellent meeting that really grasped and inspired the members.

                           I am sure it will be well remembered.

Andy Paterson, President and speaker for the day


Also at the January meeting

James Stewart from Alnwick pictured above

      He spoke to the members to give an update on the progress with the creation of an new Begonia Society in the North East Of England and the Scottish Borders area.

For further information

See the new page in this section that has been set up to help to inform, and encourage more people to get involved




February 17th Meeting

                  *** SPECIAL 25th ANNIVERSARY MEETING.***

       In the absence of Andy Paterson,our founder President Bill Nellies was invited to preside over the meeting just as he had done 25 years ago this month where he was elected President at the first regular meeting held in Dunfermline Supporters Club in Dunfermline.

      He went on to explain the background as to how the committee was formed and operated and giving praise to the dedication and perseverence of Matt Stobbs and John Murray who spearheaded the initial efforts to form a society in the East of Scotland.

         He also thanked those on the committee in the early years for their achievements which enabled the group to grow to become a stable and very friendly society   This situation has encouraged many people over the years to take up the growing and showing of Begonias, and for that he was very proud.

       Bill went on to tell of several exploits with his wife Flo and himself over the years, getting multi stem pots to Shows and then the feeling you had when a judge placed a red ticket on your prized exhibit.  

            He and his wife Flo are still members today and still enjoy helping out at the society meetings,events etc, although sadly they no longer are able to grow Begonias



  Bill Nellies opening our 25th Anniversary meeting, a proud day for our society

Several members at our 25th anniversary meeting waiting for the meeting to start

Several members listening intently to Bill Nellies explanation of the early days in our society and the people involved.


         Bill handed over to Bert Nelson our speaker for this meeting


                               A picture of our guest Bert Nelson from Carluke


Berts new 26 x 10 greenhouse

Several other Begonia growers assisted Bert with the construction

         Berts presentation for today was his growing year 2012 including things that went well and things that went wrong.   The season started well and he covered the starting up of his tubers and showed several of his propagators in a greenhouse dedicated to propagation  


                        Picture showing one of Berts propagators

Bert starts all his tubers in a heated propagator set to 65 degees F. 

    The tubers are inserted into 100% multi purpose compost, he does not add any sand or perlite. 

     When they are ready to be removed from the propagator he transfers them to their initial pots allowing roughly 1" between the root ball and the side of the pot, this is what determines the size of pot to use, lots of growers use their own unique mixtures of composts and Bert is no different you can see his mixtures below


          Bert went on to explain his reasons for each ingredient in his compost, the plants are grown on until it is time for the move into the final pots, at this point a different mixture is used. 

                               See the second (or final) mixture below


                       Pots with the final mix can be seen in the pictures below


The left hand side staging of his new greenhouse

                       The right hand side staging of his new greenhouse

 It was early April when Bert had a disaster, the pots in the new greenhouse got frosted. The reason for this is he was too keen to get plants spaced out to allow for better growth but had not installed enough heating to protect them. Only top growth damaged, new growth came from tuber and these stems carried the flowers that won the 6 board trophy at the Dundee Show.

       Berts feeding method is to use quarter strength Chempak No3 at each watering once plants are into the final pots, this continues until the end of June.  At this point he changes over to quarter strength Chempak No4 and this continues till the Bloom is cut.

           Around two weeks before the bud has been selected each plant is given a feed of Calcium Nitrate, when the bud has been selected a second feed of Calcium Nitrate is given.


                            Blooms with, in this case polystyrene collars fitted.

 Flowers growing away nicely, by this time plants will have had both the Calcium Nitrate feeds.


                             This is the colour of ticket we all like to see

                This is Berts winning exhibit at Dundee Show in 6 Board Class 2012

                                               Well done Bert.


March Meeting 

                Andy Paterson welcomed members and guests to the third meeting in 2013.  We were pleased to welcome Samuel & Betty Kennedy to our meeting, both are committee members at the Scottish Begonia Society Samuel being President and Betty being Treasurer, it is nice to see them visit our society today.

            As it turns out we have the President of all three Scottish Begonia Societies in the hall today, as Ian Donaldson currently President of  the South West Scotland Begonia Society is our main speaker for the meeting today.

Samuel and Betty Kennedy from Airdrie, relaxing before the meeting starts.

Several of our members reading the minute of the previous meeting

More of our members sitting on the other side of the Hall

               Mr Ian Donaldson from Kirkcudbright. The SWSBS President.

          Ian has given presentations at our society before as well as to many other societies throughout Scotland and England,   He has gained a reputation for the quality of his presentations and is much sought after because of this.

      What he adds to the presentation on the day is a commitment to involve the members and as always he states in all his presentations it is" Food for Thought "              He does not want to be seen as trying to instruct members as to what to do, but generate some thought as to how they might improve their own methods by thinking more about the reasons for doing things throughout the season.

    His presentation started with the construction of his propagator, the difference with this one was it was designed the exact sizes to hold the square pots that he normally uses. The initial compost he uses is a peat based multi-purpose compost and to this he adds 10% Perlite.

This picture shows the cutting tubers spaced out prior to planting

       The tubers above are cutting tubers some are up to 3" across, that is a size not many growers can attain from cuttings.
    Ian has given previous presentations to explain his methods of propagation and they were really top notch.

    As you can see his tubers start very quickly mainly because he sets the thermostat to 70 to 75 degrees F.  Lots of growers set temperature to 60 to 65 degrees F. when using propagators.

     Here you can see the advantage of larger cutting tubers, they produce many more basal growths than small tubers, giving early cuttings as well as a greater root system.

     Ian mixes his own John Innes compost to pot his tubers into. John Innes No2 mix is the normal compost he uses but, if he feels there is not a good enough root system he would use a multi purpose for his initial potting and then as he pots on later in the season then move into a No2 Mix.

        Here you can see cutting tubers potted up and filling the propagator.

      As well as good husbandry Ian highlighted as previous speakers have the importance of watering sparingly, when plants are small or have been potted up, this phrase is" Water the plant, not the pot " and he firmly believes this this can make a huge difference to the plants growth rate, or if over watered the plant really gets restricted by damaging the roots.


   Here the plants are seen growing away, as the plants grow on the only feeding given is an occasional spray with Maxicrop. ( Seaweed based, brown bottle ).

      The plants are almost ready for the show and at this time attention must be focused on ensuring that the plants show no signs of the growth rate at the top of the plant reducing, if this is found to be the case then you would use a mix of calcium nitrate to give a boost to the plant.

      Securing the bud is done by selecting the intended bud measuring approx 11/8" or the size of an old ten pence piece, the number of days before the show   ( this varies slightly with each grower but with many varieties around 42 days ), then removing the extra buds on the stem of the plant selected. 

            As you can see above the main flower ( Male ) in the centre, this is one we will use and the smaller on either side are  carefully removed.

        Each person has their own opinion as to when best to fit a collar to protect the bloom that is developing, sometimes you must wait longer than you wish to with certain varieties as they tend to hold the bloom close to the main stem.

        Forcing on collars early can often cause the bloom to break off, therefore patience is sometimes the order of the day.

         Many people nip off any growth above the bloom to cause all the growth going up the stem to go to the flower, some others prefer to allow one leaf above the bloom to remain, Ian removes everything above the bloom. 

       Once the bud has been secured Ian waits a fortnight then feeds a high potash feed, Chempak for instance and then finishes off with a feed of 0:10:10. just before the bloom is cut. See typical blooms below.

Here you can see Ians 12 Board at Ayr Flower Show last year.

 As you can see, an excellent 12 Board a credit to the grower.

    To sum up this was an excellent presentation, beautifully created.

               Most ably dispatched with authority, blended with wit and wisdom.

            Following our meeting the members were still engrossed in lengthy conversations stemming from the presentation, an indication that the event was creating the desired effect.


  April meeting

                           Andy Paterson our President opened the regular meeting, he went on update the members on the progress being made by May Sutherland following her recent illness, she is now back home and managing things well Andy and Jim Evans visited her at home and passed on the good wishes of our members. Jim then spoke to the members regarding all the changes forced on our society by changes in the Banking systems, we have also moved all our money into one account for simpler management of our funds.

         The meeting was then handed over to John Irvine our speaker for the meeting, his presentation is " Things that go wrong " .

         This turned out to be another very interesting afternoon  and it contained a multitude of commonly encountered problems .  Covering the whole season,you would probably best describe his presentation as the begonia equivalent of          " The chamber of horrors". He began by explaining that completely cleaning the greenhouse during the winter months spraying with Jeyes Fluid or Armillotox, then using sulphur candles to finish with will give you the best possible start to the year.  This removes any spores, algae or insects and will pay massive dividends later in the year.     


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