November, 2009

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President’s Message

It’s great to be back!  I really enjoyed our October program—Shawna Price gave a fun and inventive program on containers.

Speaking of Shawna: we announced nominations for 2010 officers at the October meeting.  Shawna is nominated for President, Doris Happel has agreed to stay on for another year as Vice President and Lynda Evans another year as Corresponding Secretary, Suellen Solodar is nominated for Treasurer, Tara Ford for Recording Secretary, and Lee Statkewicz as National Representative.  Elections will be held at the November meeting.

Thank you all for your suggestions regarding our horticultural grant to Palm Beach Community College.  We took your ideas and met with Dr. George Rogers, and I believe we have developed a very worthwhile project to propagate by tissue culture 12 selected (mostly species) begonias.  Please see the statement of understanding enclosed.  We will select species that are hard to obtain, dying out, or infected with virus or other pathogens.   Dr. Rogers has selected a student, Brenda Lines, to do the project because of her intelligence, enthusiasm, and competence.  Brenda is a member of our Begonia Society chapter and attended our ABS Convention—some of you may know her.  So in addition to her other good qualities, she is also a Begoniac.

We need to supply PBCC with 12 begonias for the project.  If you have a species begonia that is languishing or rarely seen that you are willing to donate, please contact me at 842-2499 or  If the tissue culture is successful, you’ll get a great return.

We’ll also get quarterly reports on project progress, and a final report that we hope will be of enough interest for publication in the Begonian.

As I said, it’s great to be back.  See you at the November meeting.  Keep growing those begonias.

Nancy Cohen

Next Meeting

Meeting, Monday, November 9

Speaker:  Suzanne Dingwell, President of the Native Plant Society, "Native Trees and Palms".   Sue Dingwell is an expert on native plants and a creative and entertaining speaker.

Raffle Table:  Nancy Cohen
Badge Plant:  Vivian Schwartz
Refreshments:  Nancy Erneston, Arlo Prior [one more, I will try to get the name]
Early arrival to keep the doors open: Candy and Jim Curran

Around the Garden

Fall is here at last.  I really did not like that unseasonably cold weather we had last week, but I am loving the warm fall weather we are having now.  The constant breezes make it easy to work outdoors even when the temperature is above 85 degrees.  I am enjoying the presence of migrating birds, and the arrival of our winter birds.  The Painted Buntings returned in early October and were looking for the feeders.  I had to rush out and buy some seed for them.  The Kingfishers are back along the canal, chattering as they fly.  Hummingbirds do not appear to be back yet, but I should see them any day now.  The begonias are much happier now that it is a little cooler at night.  Now is the time to groom them, removing damaged leaves, and pinching and pruning the canes and shrub-like.  If you have not yet done it, fertilize your landscape begonias now, and everything else too.  Palm fertilizer is fine if you are careful not to let it contact the plants.  You can start stem and rhizome cuttings now, but this is not the best time for leaf cuttings.  They may grow roots and then just sit and wait until spring to grow plantlets.  If you have valuable leaves, there is no harm in trying to get them started.  I just bought a bag of perlite to try propagation of leaves in that.  It is sterile, and I will use small disposable drinking cups which should also be sterile.  I am hoping for success and will let you know how that works.  I am also planning on adding a little extra perlite to my usual potting mix.  I have had too many soggy plants this past summer.  Now that we are in the dry season, perhaps I should not be adding perlite now.  I'll experiment a little and let you know about that too.

Doris Happel


We would welcome articles for this newsletter.  If you have something you’d like to write about, send an article to Lynda Evans,

Minutes of Meeting of October 12, 2009

President Nancy Cohen began the meeting at 7:30 p.m. with a welcome to members and guest Jay Obine.  She thanked volunteers contributing to the meeting: Paton White, Sandy Sklar, and Candy Curran for refreshments; Doris Happel for the badge plant (the cane begonia, ’Peanut Brittle’) and raffle table.  

Treasurer’s Report was given by Maria Mitsinicos.

Old Business
Nancy Cohen presented the Nominating Committee’s report.  Next month the election of officers for 2010 will take place.  The following individuals have accepted nomination: for President, Shawna Price; for Vice President (continuing a second year), Doris Happel; for Treasurer, Suellen Solordar; for Recording Secretary, Tara Ford; for Corresponding Secretary (continuing a second year), Lynda Evans; and for National Representative, Lee Statkewicz.  There was a last call for members interested in serving to submit their names for consideration.  There were no challengers.  Nancy encouraged members to volunteer to help on committees.  Candidates and meeting dates for 2010 will be listed on the website.

New Business
Nancy commented that the Treasury had sufficient funds for the society to consider a special project/ gift.  She spoke with Dr. George Rogers about setting up a Horticulture Scholarship at Palm Beach Community College.  Suellen moved that the Begonia Society give a Horticulture Scholarship at PBCC and the motion was seconded.

Discussion followed.  It was noted that the PBCC program had grown significantly in the last few years and now includes tissue culture projects.  Tim Anderson has suggested using tissue culture to keep going begonia cultivars that are not being actively propagated in order to save them from being lost.

In the past, the Begonia Society has given donations to help fund begonia collecting trips and has been generous to the American Begonia Society.  Officers discussed various options and would like to do something good for Palm Beach County.

It would be preferable to fund a student working with begonia tissue culture, but there was uncertainty about whether tissue culture might be more of a graduate level research endeavor.

Suellen amended the motion to create a scholarship for a PBCC student with some certainty of a lasting interest in horticulture.  Leslie seconded the motion.  A vote by show of hands was overwhelmingly in favor.

It was also suggested that the club take a trip at the club’s expense.  Nancy asked members to submit ideas.

It is time to start our annual membership drive.  We are back on an anniversary basis rather than on the calendar year.  Nancy encouraged everyone to renew now.


Begonia Society Presidential nominee for 2010 Shawna Price, presented “Thinking Outside the Pot” an imaginative exploration of many sources of garden containers that are unique, inexpensive and help conserve resources by reusing and recycling.  Goodwill and Faith Farm are two of her favorite sources for materials.  Some examples of unusual containers (and the usual ones handled in new ways) follow:

The plants and containers Shawna used to demonstrate her ideas were available for sale at the end of her presentation.

Respectfully submitted,
Sandy Sklar, Recording Secretary

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