Sultry summer creates monster blooms at North East's first Begonia club

Warm weather brings joy and frustration for the members of The North East and Scottish Borders Begonia Society

Jim Stewart of Alnwick with his outsize Begonias
Jim Stewart of Alnwick with his outsize Begonias

The hot, wet summer has seen fortunes rise and fall for the North East’s first begonia society as members prepare for their annual show.

The North East and Scottish Borders Begonia Society will hold the bright and beautiful event at Dobbies Garden Centre in Ponteland this weekend - a year after the group launched.

And while a mild winter helped prevent tubers from freezing, the warm spring and summer months have seen the plants bloom frustratingly early for their growers.

Jim Stewart, who has been cultivating show begonias for six years, founded the society after discovering the nearest clubs were in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, and in Dunfermline and Airdrie to the North.

Jim Stewart of Alnwick with his outsize Begonias
 

The 67-year-old retired chef, who lives in Fire Station Houses, Alnwick, said: “I had hoped to have 18 to 20 plants at the show but now it is likely to be two or three, as the last two weeks of warm weather has disrupted plans.

“The leaves have to be very thin for begonias to look their best, but the slightest rise in temperature and moisture can lead to brown edges.

“If it is timed well, they should be just opening for the show but really we could have done with the show being a week ago now.”

The free to enter North East Area Show will feature 12 classes, including three for novices, and cash prizes.

Jim’s group, which is part of the National Begonia Society, meet on the first Sunday of each month, except September, in the library annexe at Dinnington Village Hall from 2pm to 4pm.

He added: “We now have almost 20 members, and most of them come from a background of being champion growers with leeks and dahlias, alongside four novices who we have helped from sowing seeds right through to this weekend’s show.

“It is very important to have people close by to help and now we have that.

“There will still be plenty to see at the event and I would encourage the public to pop along.”

For more information, call Jim on (01665) 604194 or 07960507016.

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