March, 2011

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Next Meeting

When:  Monday, March 14, at 7 p.m. at the Mounts Auditorium. We have been informed that a new roof will be installed on the Mounts Building in March so you may find some of the parking spaces blocked. There should still be enough room for everyone to find a parking space.
Where:  Mounts Auditorium
Speaker:  Robert Haehle, Gardening Editor, Sun Sentinel. Bob has a B.S. in Environmental Design and an M.S. in Horticulture from the University of Delaware. He had a Graduate Fellowship at Longwood Gardens, Pennsylvania. He is a former County Horticulture Agent for Broward County and has be the garden columnist for the Sun Sentinel for over 10 years.
Refreshments:  Maria Mitsinicos, Marcia Bedasse, Kitty Philips
Badge Plant:  Audrey Abrams
Raffle Table:  Begonias from a local nursery.
Exchange Table:  Bring a plant, not necessarily a begonia, that you would be pleased to have in your own garden. Take a ticket and go home with a different plant.
Plant Clinic:  New this month. Bring in a problem plant and Doris H. will try to provide some advice.

President’s Message

I hope everyone’s plants are recuperating from the dry winds that knocked pots over and damaged the edges of the leaves. This is the time to pinch and nip while the begonias have their spring growing spurt.

We had a great trip to Palm Hammock Orchid Estate in Miami. Everyone enjoyed seeing the begonias in bloom- and we all faced the tough decision about which of the beauties to bring home. We are fortunate that Doris will host a propagation party on March 19th. This is a wonderful day of hands on learning and another opportunity to add to your begonia collection.

I’m looking forward to seeing you for Bob Haehle’s program on March 14th. Now is the time to get that garden organized for the coming hot summer months (and I have a feeling it will be equally as hot as last year, if not hotter). Come with your questions about Florida gardening! Bob will have companion plants to begonias for sale .

We will have one of our Plant Clinics at this meeting. Come early with your problem begonia, and Doris will give you suggestions about what can be done to save the plant. We hope you will take advantage of this free knowledge!

We’re still collecting donations for kitchen utensils. The bin will be at the sign in table- looking for serving spoons, knives, old trays, etc.

I’m looking forward to seeing you on March 14th.

Virginia Jens
President, 2011

Begonia Propagation Workshops

a.k.a. Prop Party, at Doris Happel's house, Saturday, March 19, 10 a.m. If you need directions to my house, email me and I will send them. Call me if you have questions: 561-434-3745. Propagation workshops are a free benefit of membership. You will go home with a tray of cuttings, and bags full of other things, not just begonias. Things to bring: gloves, scissors, pencil, plant name tags, and plant trays that annuals come in. If you don't have trays, I will have extras. The club will provide pots and potting medium. There will be a similar workshop at Nancy Cohen's house on Saturday, April 16. You can go to either one or both.

Collector's Plant Sale:

As many of you know, our good gardening friend, Charlie McDaniel, passed away recently.  His wife Nancy is selling Charlie's collection of rare plants on April 9 and 10, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.  The sale will be at 1880 Carambola Road, West Palm Beach.  Tel. 561-967-5648.  Gene Joyner and other friends of Charlie's who are knowledgeable about his collection will be on hand to answer questions.

Coral Gables Garden Tour:

Audrey Abrams went on this last year and highly recommends it.  Garden lovers are in for a real treat on Saturday, March 5 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. when The Villagers, Inc. hosts its 21st annual Garden Tour. This year’s tour, “Private Gardens of Old Cutler,” features several outstanding gardens in the Old Cutler Road area of Coral Gables.  Advance tickets can be purchased for $25 from any Villager member. Tickets will also be available for $30 at either 8545 Old Cutler Road or 5495 Hammock Drive on the day of the tour. For further information, call 305-661-2560 or 305-235-3008.  Here is the link: http://gableshomepage.com/events/villagers-21st-annual-garden-tour

Welcome New Members

Dr. Alan and Mrs. Beverly Miller of Lake Worth
Doris and Don Dinsmore of Palm Beach Gardens

Around the Garden

Fertilize! Have I hounded you about that lately? When is the last time, be honest, that your fertilized your begonias? They will not look good if you don't feed them.  Suellen Solodar, our treasurer, has some of the best-grown begonias I have seen.  Her plants are in an ideal environment, in a screened pool enclosure, which protects them from debris and marauders.  The other key factor in the perfection of her potted plants is that she uses a weak soluble fertilizer every time she waters.  That is what the professional growers do.  I am not expecting everybody to do that, but that is the ideal thing.  Next best is to apply slow-release fertilizer such as Nutricote (sold as Dynamite at Home Depot) or Suncote (sold at ProSource One on Rt. 441).  I use Suncote for potted plants.  In the landscape for the sake of economy, I use Palm and Ornamental fertilizer near the begonias, being careful not to let it remain on the leaves or touch the stems or rhizomes.  The important thing is to use fertilizer regularly so your plants reach their optimum potential for leaves and flowers.  I use palm and ornamental fertilizer three times a year, February, June, and September.  The slow-release for potted plants can be used twice a year.

I am a participant in the on-line begonia discussion group on Yahoo.  This week there have been a lot of back and forth comments on the efficacy of using coffee grounds for snail of slug bait.  Finally, someone posted a link to a garden website in Alaska, hardly the place you would expect pertinent gardening advice for South Florida! The article said that snails and slugs are killed by caffeine, which is toxic to them.  The article mentioned drip brewed coffee as being best, but I am going to buy a small jar of instant coffee.  I'll mix some up and put it in a spray bottle and wait until I find a snail in the garden.  I'll spray it and see if it dies before I start brewing gallons of coffee for this project.  If this works, it is wonderful news because coffee will be cheaper and a lot more environmentally friendly than the metaldehyde poisons I have been using.  I'll let you know, but if you are a coffee drinker, which I am not, you can try it for yourself.  The snails are starting to become active again now that the weather is warm.  If you go to Starbucks, you may be able to get free coffee grounds, which will work too.  Even in low concentrations, the caffeine will repel snails.  Here is the link to the article on caffeine: http://www.plantea.com/slug-baits-coffee.htm

My garden is at its best ever with begonias blooming everywhere.  Come to the prop party just to see this peak bloom time and get some ideas for massing begonias at your house.  I have many prolific thickstems and canes that I throw out by the wheelbarrow load, so you will be welcome to take plenty of cuttings to pot up at home.

Doris Happel

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