September, 2009

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President’s Message

Greetings from the North

Finally summer has arrived, and our temperatures (for the moment) are as high as yours in Florida.  After the summer-that-never-was, I’m glad to have the heat.

As usual at this time of year I am asking all of you to consider being an officer in the Begonia Society of the Palm Beaches.  As we have term limits (no more than 2 years in any job,) we need a new President, Treasurer, Recording Secretary, and National Representative.  Fortunately we have candidates for some of the positions, and Doris Happel has agreed to continue as Vice President and Lynda Evans as Corresponding Secretary (each has completed one year in their position.) Generally the jobs are pretty easy and a lot of fun.  Our President manages the overall society and runs our monthly meetings, our VP puts together our monthly programs, our Treasurer receives and disburses money and keeps financial records, our Recording Secretary takes minutes of meetings and emails them to the Corresponding Secretary, the Corresponding Secretary compiles and sends the newsletter, and the National Representative reports on our activities to ABS and keeps us informed of ABS activities.  The officers meet a few times a year to set policy.  The Board is helped by committee chairs, who see to food, badge plants, exchange tables, cleanup after meetings, and special projects.

If any of you are interested in helping please call me (518 299 3679) or email me (  Its fun!

I hope all your begonias and gardens are doing well and that the jungle effect hasn’t overtaken everything.  Keep growing those begonias,

Nancy Cohen

Next Meeting

Meeting September 14, 7 p.m.

Speaker: Andreas Daehnick, Director, McKee Gardens
Refreshments: Ed Whalen, Norma Grimm, Vivian Schwartz
Raffle Table: Ed Whalen
Badge Plant: Doris Happel
Exchange Table: Bring a nice plant, not necessarily a begonia.  You take a ticket and then get to pick a plant from the table in the order that the tickets are called.

Around the Garden

Can you detect the seasonal changes that mean fall is coming?  I admit these changes are subtle, not exactly a nip in the air.  When I lived in Vermont, we had frost in the first few days of September.  The most notable seasonal change in Florida is in the shifting sun/shade patterns.  Potted plants might have to be moved around, either to avoid too much sun or to get a little more.  Now is a good time to cut back thickstem begonias like B. valida and B. ‘Chuck Jaros.’ If you cut them now, they still have time to grow quite a lot before blooming in December.  The thickstems are among the earliest bloomers.

I am still at war with snails.  I search for them during daylight hours, hidden in bromeliads and nestled in the rhizomes of begonias.  I search for them by flashlight every evening while my dogs are having their last outdoor time.  And, I spread metaldehyde (Slugger) on the begonias once a month.  The snail population is declining but even one is still more than I want.  My relationship to snails is similar to Ahab and Moby Dick.

While we are still having good rains, get some fertilizer near the in-the-ground begonias.  If you haven’t fertilized in awhile, you will be amazed at how great they look after fertilizer and rain.  Fertilize the potted b’s too.  I use palm fertilizer on the landscape plants for economy and Suncote (similar to Nutricote and Dynamite) on the potted plants.  If you use palm fertilizer, be careful not to have it touch leaves or rhizomes to avoid burning.

I participate in the on-line begonia discussion group on Yahoo.  A recent topic has been the dangers of airborne particles from potting mixes.  The risks of Perlite were also mentioned in the Begonian.  Several of the experts in the discussion group have warned about the risks of fungus and bacteria from the peat in bagged potting mixes.  When the mixes in bags are damp and sit around for long periods, bacteria and fungus multiply.  If you are pouring potting mix into a container, wear a dust mask.  Once you have potting mix in a container that you are dipping from, keep it damp so that the perlite does not fly around.  The greatest danger has been to those working in enclosed greenhouses with dusty products.  Most of us work outdoors, but nevertheless, be careful not to inhale dusty potting mix.

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,

August 10, 2009 Minutes

Vice President Doris Happel welcomed everyone at 7:30 p.m.  Guests attending were John Moser and member Hillary Berman’s husband, Jerry.

Doris reported on the search for new officers.  Officers are limited to two years and positions being vacated are President, Treasurer, Recording Secretary and National Representative.  Doris will continue as Vice President and Lynda Evans as Corresponding Secretary.  Anyone interested in volunteering for open positions should contact Nancy Cohen or Doris.

Maria Mitsinicos gave the Treasurer’s report.  Fundraising was successful this year.  The officers are considering some ideas and will soon propose future uses of them to the members.

Thanks for tasty refreshments to Elaine McKelvey and Di Loveland, to Tara Ford for being in charge of the raffle table, and to Christine Schwartz for donating the badge plant.


Speaker Bruce Pearson, nurseryman and co-owner of Tropical World showed slides and talked about “Unusual Plants for the Tropics” including both rare species and unusual cultivars of common favorites.  Plants originated in Thailand, New Zealand, the Amazon, etc.  Some examples:

Respectfully submitted,
Sandy Sklar, Recording Secretary

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