East of Scotland Begonia Society

This section is a record  of 2012 season meetings.

January 22nd

                Our first regular meeting in 2012, the President Andy Paterson welcomed everyone to a new season and wished them well in the coming months,he accepted several apologies and the meeting got under way.  He gave the meeting over to our speaker for the day our own Ronnie Welsh,from Methil.

       The subject of his presentation was Propagation.   He covered basal cuttings, stem cuttings and leaf cuttings then covered growing them on until the end of the season. He then went on to explain his method of taking the plants down and his method of winter storage.

       The powerpoint presentation conluded with season two, with the same cuttings starting off in the propagator and onto the stage of final potting ready to produce the flower for the show.  This presentation was very well received by the members. 

      Following a short break for refreshments, Ronnie gave a second presentation which covered taking a plant selected for a flower show, securing the flowering bud then running through all the stages in preparation of  the plant, fitting of collars and explaining the construction of his bloom boxes he uses to transport his blooms to the show. He then concluded by explaining how to stage the Blooms on a board at the show. 

Overall very good presentations and covered many of the areas that trouble quite a few of our members.    It should also be mentioned that today is the first time Ronnie has given a presentation, he did himself proud.


February 19th

                  This was our second regular meeting of the year and the President Andy Paterson welcomed everyone to the meeting and very soon things were underway as Andy was our speaker for the day. 

              His chosen subject for the presentation was the growing of pot plants and he split this into two distinct sections which were single stem pots and multi stem pots.  He commenced the growing year by explaining his propagator and how he sets the tubers away in February, this being possible because it has a soil warming cable installed in the propagator.   Andy then covered the subject of potting on from the start of the year through to flowering time and the use of various composts as the plants grow.

          Andy then explained the stages of single stem pots intended for one cut bloom and the removal of extra basal growths at the start of the season for cuttings,  then he followed on by showing how to remove side shoots from the main stem as the plant grows on and using these for cuttings.  The cuttings then rooted in the heated propagator.   As show time arrived it was explained how and when to secure the bud chosen to flower for the show.  It was then shown how to produce again another single stem pot, this time to produce three flowers rather than the one. highlighting the methods involved in staking and supporting the plants

Single stem pot with  three blooms

         In the second section covering multi stem pots Andy explained the early stages are very similar and it varies when the stage for removing the basal growths is reached.  Here you select the best two stems intended to flower then the rest can be removed for cuttings, from this point onwards the grower must continually stake the plant to separate the stems as much as possible. 

This is to give as broad a platform as possible to carry the side shoots that will grow later as well as eventually the flowers, they will be much easier to manage if the plant is properly spread out.

Multi stem pot for the show

  Andy explained getting the spread naturally is easier if you start with a larger tuber, he emphasised that multi stem pots require a lot more work and attention to have them able to produce a good exhibition pot to be proud of.

        The other area he highlighted as being very important was at the end of season when the tuber is being prepared to rest for the winter, he presented excellent pictures explaining the removal of the scab from the top of the tuber and how the surface of the tuber should be iwhen the last stem segment has been properly removed.

         Another successful presentation and enjoyed by the members.


March 18th.

                    The president Andy Paterson welcomed everyone to our regular meeting and promptly introduced our guest speaker for the day John Hamilton from Coalburn, Lanarkshire.This was our third regular meeting of the year and everyone was anticipating a good afternoons entertainment

                Johns presentation started with showing the tubers destined to be used for multi stem pots in the propagator in early January as he believes it requires fully seven months to produce a quality multi stem pot plant fit to take to a show. He explained the compost in the propagator was a Chempak seed mix and this gave him good results.

                  Once the tubers are ready to leave the propagator he covered the requirements of selecting the the main stems facing the same direction, this being necessary to provide flowers facing to the front of the pot when the flowers appear at show time.

John believed that growing with two or a maximum of three main stems will give a good spread of flowers and maintain a good size for each of the flowers produced by the plant, the extra stems are removed at this stage and used as cuttings. The compost used at first potting was a peat based compost to give a rapid root growth, later pottings he used a JI No2 mix.

            John then explained that the plant must be controlled from an early stage and by the beginning of March the canes are used to position the main stems and should be inserted into the pot and the stems very slowly separated as the weeks progress.

            As time progresses the stems should be encouraged to spread apart to allow as great a distance as possible across the plant to leave a space for the flowers to develop.

            Towards the end of May you can see the plant spreading to give a good platform for flowering

        John also explained that you must try and position your chosen flowers as soon as possible to be in a position where the flowers can cover the whole area of the plant.  He also sugested that you disbud at a very early stage to prevent damage reaching into the blooms

            As you can see the extra buds are removed very early

             When the oyster bud begins to open you can see that some will be obstructed by leaves

The leaves which will obstruct the main flowers are removed at this stage so as not to damage the flowers as they develop.

          Here you can see the offending leaves have been removed

             John explained that careful insertion of the flower supports and canes were necessary,and was done in a way to be hidden as much as possible in the exhibit

                  When you see the picture above you can see that John is not a novice with pots, he has in the past won the best pot exhibit at Ayr show, as well being known throughout the country as the finest grower of cut blooms, regularly winning the British Begonia Championships at Ayr. It was a privilege to hear John impart some of his vast knowlege on the growing of his beloved Begonias

                Another sucessful presentation and was very well received by our members.


April 22nd

            This was the fourth meeting of the year and Alistair Barnard stood in to take control of the meeting as both Andy Paterson and Jim Evans were not available. He opened the meeting and welcomed Tom Blaine from Dumfries who was the guest speaker for the afternoon, he has a long history in the growing of

begonias stretching back about forty years.  As well as being an experienced grower he is also a well known judge and has officiated several times at Ayr as well as numerous local shows

               His talk today was in two main sections, the first part was a film which was made by Channel 4 for television and featured growers around the Dumfries area.

             The film included country estate growers as well as amatuer growers, in the case of Tom the cameras were at his greenhouse at several stages to illustrate the progressing season, the final visit was at flowering time and showed the begonias in all their glory.   The cameras then followed the setting up of the Dumfries horticultural  show and recorded the show itself  the two days over which the show was held, many members asked questions following the film which Tom answered  very well. It should also be mentioned that Tom was the Chairman of the Dumfries horticultural society for many years and enjoyed participating in organising what was a spectacular event held annually.

( Tom setting up his slide projector as part of his presentation )

            For the second part of his presentation Tom produced a slide show of his begonias in his greenhouse and included admirable multi stem pots as well as single bloom plants.  Once more a good presentation and completely new content for all our members, showing the growing in the South West of Scotland around the Dumfries area.

Picture showing several members at the meeing

      It should be menioned that Tom travelled to see us today along with his freind Ian Roberts from Beattock and the well known Ian Donaldson from Dumfries.

Picture showing several more members at the meeting

       On the way to the meeting the threesome dropped in to visit Ronnie Welsh and his begonias in Methil, and were made very welcome by Ronnie and Alison.

         On the homeward journey they dropped in to visit Bert Nelson in Carluke and were also made most welcome by Bert  and Margaret.

         A comment made by the visitors since, was they had thoroughly enjoyed the visit and it had been greatly added to by dropping in on other growers greenhouses as part of the same day away.  


Sunday May 20th

               This was the fifth meeting of the year and Jim Evans stood in for the President Andy Paterson. The speaker for todays meeting was Jack Larter from Heywood Lancashire and the presentation was "Bud to Bench".

     A cheery Mr Jack Larter

                 The presentation started with Jack going  through the varieties he grows for the show and giving an in depth appraisal of the good points and the not so good points of each of the blooms, his interpretation was sometimes challenged by some of our members, it also became apparent through the varied conversations in the hall that some of the top growers that exhibit at the top flower shows had the ability to reduce or in fact eliminate many of the common faults that comes with growing certain varieties, and that is one of the main challenges facing the average growers. Jack suggested growing less varieties in the greenhouse and growing a larger number of pots of each variety.  Another observation was that most of the winning exhibits all over the country are blooms that have been around for years and are usually referred to as" bankers" and these were the ones best to concentrate on growing.

Michael Richardson a begonia grower who  travelled north with Jack

for todays meeting

  Ronnie McKnight another begonia grower who travelled north with Jack

for todays meeting

All three growers were made very welcome in the east of scotland


             Jack moved onto the often fickle matter of securing and timing of the bud, he believed that growers should record each year the date of securing the bud and the weather and temperature as the bud developes as this is the best method of getting your own personal record and a guide to getting the timing correct for the shows in years to come, and this ability to time blooms is crucial to enable the maximum number of blooms that have been grown to reach the show bench when required.

       When it comes to selecting the blooms for an exhibit it often becomes obvious as the flowers develop that several stand out on the greenhouse staging and in fact most almost choose themselves as the quality is easy to see.

           As the time arrives to cut the blooms for the show Jack showed us the methods he employs, he uses orchid tubes filled with clear lemonade to keep the bloom supplied with fluid untill it reaches the show bench. To transport his blooms to the show he uses large florist boxes ( Likely they were Lily boxes ) and cradles the blooms and tubes on a bed of a synthetic type of cotton wool to prevent damage in transitThis has served him well and would recommend this method.

             We were then given a guided tour of how to set up a 12 board exhibit. He stressed at length to have a plan of how you want to set out your board and begin by placing the back row first of all so there is no need to lean over blooms already staged on the board. This eliminates possible damage that could be caused by leaning over blooms to reach further back on your board. Then the second back row is done next then the second row and finally the front row.

            It should also be stated that Jack follows a method of improving the effect on the board by choosing the four corner blooms to be big and bright as this really enhances the appearance of  the exhibit and gives the impression of more bulk.  He also believes that the back row should be the biggest blooms you have as this again gives the impression of bulk.

           During this part of the presentation a discussion arose regarding variance in blooms mainly colour variations and it was agreed that the best way to minimise this was to grow your plants in groups so they all experience the same light and ventilation etc. Another tip was if you are going to place more than one bloom of a particular variety on the board do not place them together on the board as the differences will stand out more. The other main items covered were to attempt to have all your blooms facing forward and at the same angle  and set at the same height by building up below with extra plastic cups. Following the presentation Jack had a short question and answer session and this concluded a very entertaining  and informative afternoon.

            The members attention was drawn to Jacks book pictured below and it was stated by those in our society that have already read the book that it was well worth reading as it was a excellent modern guide to growing begonias and exhibiting begonias. Jack deserves a lot of praise for producing such a lovely book and I am sure it will stand as a good growing guide to begonia growers for years to come.

We as a society would like to take this opportunity to thank Jack, Michael and Ronnie for travelling from Lancashire to be with us today.


  A visit to see Ronnie Welsh`s begonias in Methil.

Friday 1st of June.

           Today Ronnie welcomed John Hamilton, Ian Donaldson, Kennedy McQuiston, Bert Nelson and Jim Evans on a lovely sunny afternoon.

 Right hand side of main section

Left hand side of Main section

Ian and John enjoying a little shade

Bert and Kennedy enjoying the banter

Ronnie hiding under the sun hat

                   The afternoon was spent discussing many aspects of growing begonias, the problems and solutions. Refreshments were served and went down a treat on such a lovely afternoon.    A big thank you to Alison, Ronnies wife for her efforts.

         It is nice to see the interaction between growers from all over the country.    The main discussion was the preparations for Ayr flower show and the plans in place for another successful season.

                Before I complete this report I must again comment on the quality of the greenhouse plants and the housekeeping. It is a credit to Ronnie.


October meeting 

          Andy Paterson our president opened the meeting and welcomed the members.      

          Our guest speaker today is one of our better known growers namely Ronnie Welsh.  The subject he was covering was the preparation and storage of tubers for the winter months.  This is always a very popular subject to cover as this causes many growers to lose tubers and as well as an explanation of the process, several adult tubers were brought into the meeting and a practical hands on session took place.  The members were shown how Ronnie cleans and brushes down his tubers, then removes the scab ( the last stem section ) from the top of the tuber. this being all that is required to set them up for winter storage.  Ronnie explained that when his tubers are cleaned they then are placed into his greenhouse propagators, the thermostat is set to 40 degrees Fahrenheit to protect from frost, then extra covers placed over them to offer more protection from the frost.   They are checked monthly during the winter for signs of rot etc


             A picture showing the brushing down of a tuber ready for storage

                            A small group observing Ronnies methods

        When it comes to the cutting tubers the method Ronnie uses for preparation and storage is to leave the small cutting tubers in the pot in which they had been grown, normally up to a 4 " pot.  

      Then as Autumn progresses and the leaves start to turn yellow the watering is reduced and then stopped.  At this point the stems will fall off. Once the stems are off you place them in the propagators again set at 40 degrees Fahrenheit and then covered up for the winter.



                                    Several members at October meeting

                      Another few of the members at the meeting ready for the projector presentation with pictures of various stages of preparation for winter and showing Ronnies layout of his propagators in his greenhouse.



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