Our May speaker was Johanna Kitson gave a wonderful program on “Begonias- This and That,” more information on growing spectacular begonias. Johanna has a unique microclimate in her yard, and she discussed some tips on how she achieved it, along with tips on growing from seeds. Thanks again for a fun and informative program.
June’s speaker will be one of our favorites, Greg Sytch. Remember to bring 4’ potted begonias to exchange with Greg.
I hope you all have a very light potting soil so your begonias can cope with all the rain we have had this early The added problem of the 80-90 degree days is not making begonia happiness. Check your plants often to ensure they are draining and not getting direct afternoon sun. I am also starting to run my fans in the area under the canvas pavilion where my begonias live. Do you have any tips for getting through this weather? Let me know! We can put them all together for others to try.
The Southwest Regional Get Together was a small but successful gathering. I met many nice Texans who I only knew by name. I brought back many terrarium plants as well as many cane hybrids which we haven’t seen in our area. Some of the topics of discussion at the board meeting were Morris Mueller’s bequest to ABS for research and education ($200,000+), the copying of Jack Golding’s research materials at the Missouri Botanical Garden, establishing educational grants from Morris’ bequest, getting more issues of the Begonian available on DVD, binders that fit the holes in the Begonian and other administrative topics.
The convention packages for the annual ABS convention to be held in San Diego should be in your hands soon if you do not already have them.
Upcoming events: July 9, 2012- Pot luck and Silent Auction! Plants and garden related items. You can with donate them to the club, or there is a 80/20 split with the club. Guests and non-members- $5.00. Bring one covered dish for each person in your group. Set up at 6:00pm, eat at 6:30pm--- eat and check your bids. The bottom bid on the sheet wins the item- don’t go back and cross out your bid and put a higher one beside it. You must write your name and new bid at the bottom.
August 8-12- American Begonia Society Annual Convention, San Diego American Begonia Society’s 80th Birthday celebration. There will be a great plant sale, wonderful speakers, great tours, and a beautiful show. Conventions are much more fun to attend than to organize and put on!
August 13, 2012- Vertical Landscaping- Bruce Pearson. An important topic to those who are gardening on balconies, patios, or confined spaces…. or just have filled their allotted acres of land!
AROUND THE GARDEN
A lot has been accomplished in the last month. We have a begonia garden planted in the Mounts Botanical Garden again. It is located just west and south of the book store area right off of the new meandering sidewalk. There are over 80 begonia hybrids and species. The garden supplied fafard, compost, mulch, fertilizer and lots of much needed muscle. Acquiring plants is an ongoing effort, and, so far we have received some wonderfully large begonias from Boynton Botanicals, Tropical World and members.
As the begonias were being watered after their installation, people were already walking over to the beds and asking questions about them. They did not know that these were begonias and thought that wax begonias were their only choice. The garden will once again be an educational focal point for this adaptable plant family.
WHAT TO DO IN JUNE Even though summer isn’t officially here for a couple of weeks, it is still hot with the oppressive heavy humidity to follow only too soon. (When we walk here in the middle of summer we an actually feel the air as we pass through it.) Rain recently gave the plants some much needed relief, however, we could always use more to keep those droughts at bay. Since we are well into the active growing season it is always important to feed your plants with a balanced fertilizer. Nutricote and Palm fertilizers are fantastic to use. Just use the palm fertilizer sparingly and keep it from touching the begonia stems as it will burn them. Nutricote (Dynamite) will not burn. Lightly mulching near the plant will help save moisture and keep the top of the ground cooler as well as enrich the soil as it degrades into composted soil.
When a rhizomatous begonia has been in the ground a long time, the stems work their way to the top and sometimes begin to grow on top of each other. This may be a good time to separate them in order to replant or share some with others. Another option is to just sprinkle some fafard or peat on top of the clump until it covers only the bottom half of the rhizome. Of course, cuttings can be taken all summer long.
If canes are getting leggy they may be in too much shade or they are an older plant. Cuttings can be taken to shorten the plant. Or, if you want to force basal growth from the roots, cut the cane back severely and wait for your beautiful new plant to appear in a few short weeks. Incorporate Nutricote into the soil when repotting rather than just leaving it on top of the soil. When planting begonias, or any plant, incorporate the fertilizer into the soil, if possible, otherwise spread it on top and mulch afterwards.
NAME TAGS Do you need a name tag? Email the Membership Chair so one can be made and given to you at the June meeting. Denise firstname.lastname@example.org or 791-4681.
The following is reprinted from the Fern and Rare Plant Society of Miami, May 2012 Tobacco: Our New Friend by John Banta
In 1559, Jean Nicot traveled from France to Portugal to negotiate a royal marriage. A botanist friend invited him to dinner. After dinner, the botanist showed Nicot an interesting plant he had received from Florida. This plant had remarkable medicinal values. The Spanish name for the plant was “tabaco” derived from a New World language. Nicot introduced tobacco to the French court. Its reputation as a medicinal herb assured its wide distribution. Linnaeus named the plant “Nicotonia” in honor of Nicot’s role in introducing the plant. At that time, 1754, there were only 2 species in the genus. We now recognize over 60 species of Nicotiana. On any list of plants beneficial to mankind, tobacco would be a dubious addition. It seems that Australian tobacco, Nicotiana benthamiana, has taken the place of chicken eggs in the production of influenza vaccine. The last swine flu pandemic required 6 months of egg based technology to produce any quantity of vaccine to reach the market. Medicago, the company producing the new flu vaccine claims that it can produce over 10 million doses of vaccine in one month. Medicago utilizes a neat new method to produce virus-like particles. These virus-like particles contain no viral genetic material so they cannot produce the flu. Over 75% of volunteers developed an immune response to the virus. Phillip Morris International has entered into a partnership with Medicago to explore new opportunities in tobacco adjacent businesses.
President Virginia Jens called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m. The society aims and purposes were read. Maria Mitsinicos and Pauline were recognized for donating refreshments; Nancy Cohen contributed the badge plant.
Guests were Genevieve Bobrowski and Louise Bing.
Minutes were posted on the web.
The Treasurer’s Report was given by Virginia Jens. Maria Mitsinicos’ April Treasurer’s report was finalized. (The provisional report given in April was before the bank statement was received.) The May report was also given by Virginia.
No action on advertising in the Mounts’ Leaflet was taken.
Interested members will tour several Palm Beach Public gardens on Saturday, May 19th: Cluett Garden at Bethesda by the Sea, Garden of the Four Arts, Pan’s Garden, and the Vertical Wall at County Road and Worth Avenue. No tour leader was named.
The new begonia garden at Mounts was planted thanks to a spot being designated by Mounts Botanical Garden, plant donations received from Tropical World and Boynton Botanicals and the work of volunteers who helped with the planting. Johanna Kitson co-ordinated with Mounts and directed activites. Worker bees included members: Frances Drescher, Sandy Sklar, and Maria Mitsinicos, and Raju Kottiah. Vickie Silver, a Master Gardener who was working in the area, also volunteered to help
Amendments to Article 7 (regarding the club’s relationship to the American Begonia Society) and Article 10 (regarding the club’s tax exempt status) were distributed. Kitty Phillips moved to accept the amendments and the motion was seconded by Victoria Lang. All voted in favor of the motion.
June meeting – ABS Begonian horticultural editor Greg Sytch present a program. He would like to exhange 4” pots of begonias with our members in order to expand his collection.
Registration packages fo the annual ABS convention in San Diego will be going out soon. All ABS members will receive a package.