March, 2012

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Next Meeting

When:  Monday, March 12, at 7 p.m. Where:  Mounts Auditorium
Speaker:  Craig Morell, "Begonias in the Landscape"
March Refreshments:  Beverly M. Miller & Linda De Santi

President’s Message

Thanks to everyone who helped to make the Annual Auction a success! The plants were, as usual, absolutely beautiful and many unique. We are fortunate to have the ABS President, Charles Jaros, as our auctioneer. Not only is he a founding member of Begonia Society of the Palm Beaches, but his knowledge of begonias is encyclopedic. He is also an nationally known plant show judge. As I write this message, he is preparing for the renowned Philadelphia Plant Show. Others who helped were our Treasurer, Maria, Nancy Cohen, Tara Ford, and our clean up committee! Bless you all. Thanks to Nancy and Kitty for the refreshments. And I’m sure there are people I have missed- I’m sorry. We appreciate all the help we get.

May 16-20, 2012 is the Southwest Regional Get-Together, held this year in San Antonio. The room rate at the Airport Hilton is $89.00 for a single or double. The Get-Together is primarily made up of the Texas and Oklahoma clubs but anyone can join ($10 per year). It’s like a mini-convention, with speakers, tours, and plant sale. A great opportunity to get the newest hybrids and other plants. Think about attending. It’s a lot of fun. The national convention is in August in San Diego. More details on that as we get them.

This month’s speaker will be Craig Morell on “Begonias in the Landscape”. I’m looking forward to tips on getting my plants back into shape after the cold blasts we had. I hope we’ll see you all at the March 12th meeting.

Virginia Jens
President, 2012

Newsletter Editor’s Message

Begonias are so gorgeous right now. The bloom spikes seem taller this season and I don’t know if it is because of the mild winter or the fertilizer, perhaps both.

Throughout late winter and into the spring it is time to remove the old tattered foliage to enable the new growth to develop into larger leaves. If the old leaves are removed now before the new growth flushes out completely, there is no chance of damaging the fresh leaves.

I have a feeling that we will continue to have warmer than usual weather. One of my goals every year is to groom the yard before the hot, humid summer arrives. Getting rid of weeds before they send out seeds will do wonders in keeping summer weeds down. Mulching at this time is also a great way to keep weeds away later. Throw your Nutricote, Dynamite or palm fertilizer down before you mulch as well. That time release fertilizer will last nearly 6 months.

For potted begonias and other plants, be sure to incorporate Nutricote into the soil and not just on the top. It is time to freshen up all the potted begonias still in last years soil. Pull it out of the pot to see if it is root-bound. If it is, loosen the roots and replant the begonia into a little bit bigger pot so it can grow bigger. Or, root prune the plant, add fresh soil, and use the same pot. Short squatty pots are best for rhizomatous begonias.

Newsletter Editor

Upcoming Plant Events

Saturday, March 17 -- Leu Gardens, Orlando - bus trip or car pool. This is their giant plant sale. Leu Gardens has many begonias in the landscape as well. Leu Garden is a real oasis in the middle of Orlando and a lovely garden to visit.

March 24 and 25 -- Garden Fest 2012 at Volunteer Park, FREE Parking - FREE Admission & Great food!! Located @ 12050 W. Sunrise Blvd. Plantation, FL 33323 Saturday from 9am - 5pm and Sunday from 9am - 4pm

Saturday, March 24 -- Strawberry pot workshop at Johanna’s garden. All you need to bring is your strawberry pot. Potting medium and Nutricote fertilizer will be available. A selection of appropriately sized begonias will be for sale. Strawberry pots can be found at Home Depot, Lowes, Uncle Bims, Pottery Patch, Farmer’s Daughter Plant and Produce and other garden centers. They vary in size and can be found in terra cotta or ceramic

Saturday, April 14 -- At Doris Happel’s Garden. Learn how to grow begonias from leaves, wedge cuttings, or stems. If you have a begonia you would like to share, bring some leaves or stems with you (and the name if you know it)

April 14 and 15 -- Spring Sale at Fairchild Tropical Garden, Miami

April 21 -- Saturday morning Garden Tour of Linda Desanti’s (9:00 a.m.) and Johanna Kitson’s (10:00 a.m.) gardens with lunch to follow.

April 29 and 30 -- Spring Plant Sale at Mounts Botanical Garden, WPB

Meeting Minutes for February 13, 2012

President Virginia Jens began the meeting at 7:30 p.m. The meeting was shortened due to allow enough time for holding the auction. There was no Treasurer’s report, or old or new business, only announcements.

For reporting purposes, the following activities announced are placed in order by date: On February 25th there will be a trip to Tim Anderson’s Begonia Festival. We will carpool. All members wising to participate should let Virginia know tonight or email her. We will bring our own lunch. There will be vendors at the festival.

On Saturday March 3, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. the West Palm Beach Garden Club will have a plant sale and speakers at their Garden Club Center near the Science Museum.

On March 3 & 4th there will be a bus tour sponsored by the FL Federation of Garden Clubs including a stop at the Fruit and Spice Park, tours of gardens in Key West, and a wine and cheese party on the bus ride home. All meals and accommodations are included except for dinner on Saturday night. Cost is $260.

A trip to Leu Garden will take place on Saturday, March 17. We will leave early and try to return by 5 p.m. Bus transportation is being arranged.

On March 24 Johanna will conduct a strawberry pot workshop. She will have soil. Plant plugs will be available for purchase. Everyone should bring their own pot.

The propagation party to be held at Linda Desanti’s house is cancelled. The one at Doris Happel’s house will be on April 14.

There will be a garden tour of Johanna Kitson’s and Linda Desanti’s gardens, plus lunch, on April 21.

New members joining tonight are: Nancy and Matt DeGennaro and Cathy and Bob Rose. Several guests came to enjoy the auction.

Tonight’s auction offers almost 90 plants including begonias, aroids, euphorbias, and gesneriads. Many of the begonias are Florida hybrids which handle well our heat and humidity. Our auctioneer, the best ever, is Charles Jaros.

Respectfully submitted,

Sandy Sklar
Recording Secretary

Book Review of Henry Nerhling‘s book “MY GARDEN IN FLORIDA”

Many years ago plant pioneers set the stage for all of us here in the 21st Century. Dr. Henry Nehrling was one of these dedicated people. To bring these times into perspective to my own life I have added other happenings. Dr. Nerhling was born in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, May 9, 1853. (Over in Maine, my side of the family had just finished building their huge barn and adding this same years date over one of the large sliding barn doors. As a child I was always mesmerized by the fact that this old barn was just over a hundred years older than myself. )

Early education of Nerhling was in the Wisconsin public school system and later, at the ripe old age of 20, he was graduated from the Teacher’s Seminary at Addison, Illinois. For many years he was a teacher that lent him the flexibility to teach in Illinois, Missouri, and Texas. This frequent moving enabled him to study nature, in particular, ornithology. In 1884 he became interested in Florida and bought property just outside of Orlando in Gotha, Florida, which he did not see until 1886. (Hummm…. a swamp land deal in a Florida land advertisement?) In 1887 he became the deputy collector and inspector of customs of the Port in Milwaukee. Three years later he resigned this position and became secretary and custodian of the Public Museum of Milwaukee. During these jobs he became a frequent contributor to German, English and American periodicals writing mostly about birds. In 1891 he wrote “Die Nortamericanishe Vogelwelt” and in 1893 “Our Native Birds of Song and Beauty”.

As many folks still do, he had in the back of his mind to eventually move to Florida. However, in the meantime, he built a greenhouse in Milwaukee and collected seeds and plants from various sources in the tropics. Chicago hosted the Columbian Exposition in 1893 and he was interested in the various palms and ornamentals. But, it was the fancy leaved caladiums hybridized by Adolf Leitze of Rio de Janeiro that caught his attention. Adolf had crossed five or six species and these combined efforts produced the colored leaves we are used to seeing today. Afterward, Nehrling continued his own breeding program of caladiums for years to come.

The plant bug hit him hard and so he decided to move to Gotha, Florida, sooner than later. He packed up his collections and headed south becoming the collaborator of the Office of Foreign Seed and Plant Introduction of the Bureau of Plant Industry. While here “The American Eagle” published his articles in serial form about growing palm, bamboo, and other ornamental plants.

Gotha proved to have poor soil and was too cold for his growing needs so he bought land in Naples, Florida, in 1917. While the rest of the world was fighting ‘the war to end all wars’, Nehrling was transferring his caladiums to a new location and continued breeding all types of other tropical plants. (This was also the year my grandparents got married and began their 63 years together.) …to be continued….

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