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President’s Message

I hope you all had wonderful holidays.  I certainly enjoyed our Holiday Party.  Thank you all for the wonderful food and thank you, Charles, for bringing the gorgeous begonias and for calling Begonia Bingo.  2009 will be an eventful year for all of us, with our tumultuous political and financial environment and our ABS Convention in late April.  May we all prosper!

We are hard at work on the ABS Convention.  Leslie Clarke and I are teaching a 5th grade science class at Rosarian Academy in West Palm how to grow and show begonias.  Our huge fabulous Plant Show at the Convention will include a Junior Division, open to children 18 years old and younger (the only division at the show open to non-ABS members.) We met with 19 members of Mrs. Watson’s science class early in December and had them select rhizomatous begonias to grow for the show. (Begonias must be owned and grown by the entrant for 3 months prior to the show.) We demonstrated how the begonias were started from leaf cuttings, showed them how to water and fertilize their begonias, and discussed the factors that contribute to good plant growth. The last time we checked, their begonias were doing great.  In subsequent classes we’ll teach the kids to pot up and groom their plants and to start begonias from stem cuttings.  We hope that you will encourage budding Begoniacs of your acquaintance to submit entries in the Junior Division.  I told the students at Rosarian they might get a good run for their efforts!  (See our Show Schedule online at our website — — to see what classes the Junior Division encompasses.)

We have acquired 12” and 14” clay-colored pots suitable for showing larger begonias, and will have them for sale at the next few meetings.  12” pots are $2.00 each and 14” pots are $3 each.

Our January meeting on January 12 is our annual Begonia Auction.  Charles Jaros will be our auctioneer.  As always, this is a great opportunity to learn about begonias and to acquire rare, unusual and truly beautiful begonias.  It is still 3 months before the ABS Convention, so you may buy a great begonia and show it at the Convention.  If any of you have some interesting and beautiful shade-loving plants (does not have to be a begonia) to spice up the auction, donations are really welcome and we are very grateful.  Also, bring your friends.  This is a fun opportunity to see the best of the best, and to acquire it!

I am looking forward to another really great year.  Join us at our Annual Auction, January 12.   Begonias go on view at 7 pm.

Nancy Cohen

Convention News and Information

Convention registration packets will go out around January 6.  Members of our branch who are planning to volunteer at the convention for a minimum of four hours do not have to pay the registration fee.  The branch will pay it for you as a benefit of membership.  If you want to participate in any of the tours or meals, you have to pay for those.  You must still fill in and mail the registration to me.  The registrations will be numbered in the order received, and your number is your place in line for the plant sale.  Convention information will be posted on the ABS website,

We need a volunteer with a van or truck and a helper or two to pick up convention props such as racks and stands from the West Palm Beach Garden Club building in Dreher Park to the Hotel on Tuesday or Wednesday, April 28 or 29.  One vehicle with the driver and one or two other people should be fine.  We also need help for the return trip on Sunday, May 3, to return the items to the Garden Club.  If you can help, please email me, or call at 434-3745.

Please save cardboard trays (cut-off boxes) such as those from Costco or the ones from cases of beverages.  They will be needed at the plant sale.

If you are growing begonias for the Convention Show, you can fertilize occasionally with Miracle Gro, even if you are already using a slow release in the soil.  Keep pinching those canes and rotating all the pots so that the growth is symmetrical.

The begonias really love the cooler weather.  All my thickstems are sending up flower spikes.  I never noticed until this year that thickstems as a group are early bloomers.  The canes are looking good now too and are also beginning to bloom.

Doris Happel

Minutes of Meeting of December 8, 2009

Nancy Cohen, President welcomed members and guests and thanked everyone for their contributions to dinner. She thanked everyone who agreed to take on committee positions for the coming year.

Donnie added her thanks and asked everyone to leave the decorations in place for the Herb Society party scheduled for Tuesday night.

Mary Bucholtz from Jacksonville was introduced as Branch Relations Chairperson for the national ABS to swear in the new officers of the Begonia Society of the Palm Beaches for 2009.

The installation of officers included: Nancy Cohen – president; Doris Happel – vice president; Maria Mitsinicos – treasurer; Sandy Sklar – recording secretary; Lynda Evans – corresponding secretary, and Peggy Fratus – national representative.  All officers were awarded beautiful begonias.

Following dinner all guests participated in Begonia Bingo led by Charles Jaros.

Respectfully submitted,
Sandy Sklar
Recording Secretary

January Refreshments

Refreshments for January will be provided by Brenda Skaggs, Patt Lindsey, Leslie Clarke.  There will be no raffle table or badge plant due to the auction.

Call for Questions

I am writing an article for the Begonian.  Questions for our Convention Show Chair, Charles Jaros:  really, how can I win a Blue Ribbon?  But if you have questions about plant quality and appearance, how to pot the plant, what the judges are looking for/at, how to choose which classification (there are 230 classes!), or anything about entry into the competitive Plant Show, please email them to me at  If you have a funny question, all the better.

Nancy Cohen
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