December 2017

Blooming Begonias Newsletter December, 2017

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When:  Monday, December 11, 2017 at 6:00p.m.
Where:  Mounts Auditorium
Refreshments:   N/A
Badge Plant:     N/A
Program:  - Annual Holiday Party

President: Pat Dempsey   Vice-president: Ed Whalen   Treasurer: Frances Drescher    Secretary: Petra Russell
Special Events and Refreshment Chair: Susan Roberts    Membership: Sandy Schlar   Newsletter: Johanna Kitson

December'a Program---Friends, Plants and Food!

December’s program is always a welcome event as we have a pot luck meal and go home with new begonias! In between we have a very short meeting where we install the new officers for next year. Sandy Arland, President; Virginia Jens, Vice-President; Frances Drescher, Treasurer; Ed Whalen, Secretary; and Johanna Kitson, National Representative.

Our meeting is the second Monday of the month on December 11. However, we will be meeting earlier at 6:00 p.m. to set up for our dinner. Bring either a meat/main dish, salad, vegetable or a dessert. If you are bringing a guest, make sure to bring enough food for this extra person. Also, if the guest wishes to play Begonia Bingo, the cost is $5.

Dues are $35 single; $45 for a household membership.
Make checks out to the Begonia Society of the Palm Beaches.

Dues pay for many things that we enjoy throughout the year. Our dues and fundraisers pay for our club to be able to purchase plants for our Begonia Bingo, raffle tables, and for restocking the garden at the Mounts Begonia Garden. Donations also help pay for sending people out to explore for begonias around the world…Africa, India, South America, Central America, and Asia. And, dues pay for our informative speakers and ABS Begonian magazine.

Early next year we will be having workshops where we will learn how to make more begonias from cuttings and leaves. Plus, we will try to visit some more gardens.

For Plant Enthusiasts Only --- February 3 and 4 ---- 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Another plant sale! For those adventurous plant people, there will be a large plant sale at Riverside Park in Vero Beach. (Tropiflora brings even more plants to this booth than when they attend the Mounts Sale). Last year there were at least two vendors selling begonias as well. Some begonias were varieties that Harmony does not sell anymore.

DIRECTIONS: From WPB you would take I-95 to exit 147 and head east on Route 60. Follow Route 60 until you go over the huge intracoastal/Indian River bridge. Riverside Park is at the bottom of the bridge on the right. There is no turnpike exit for Vero Beach. (The turnpike exits only at Ft. Pierce and Yeehaw Junction).

The park itself is a gorgeous setting for a sale of any kind as it is forested with many old oak trees filled with Tillandsia setacea, Resurrection Ferns, and Tillandsia usenioides.

And, for those who know me, I like a good lunch. There just so happens to be a wonderful inside and outside lunch spot 10 minutes away called Citron. Here the oak trees also sport our native orchid Encyclia tampensis. After seeing the plant sale, I plan to go to Citron at noon on Saturday as it is excellent. Why not form a car pool and join me?

Re-reading Good Books

Last weekend I was passing my book shelf and noticed a book written by the superb landscape architect Raymond Jungles. “Colors of Nature” is the name of this book and in reading the foreword by Terence Riley, I discovered an inspiring sentence he quoted from Burle Marx—another ground-breaking landscape architect (no pun intended). Terence said that “Burle Marx’s ability to combine the sensibility of a gardener with that of an abstract modern sculptor is evident in his words: ‘A garden is a complex of aesthetic and plastic intentions; and the plant is, to a landscape artist, not only a plant --- rare, unusual, ordinary or doomed to disappearance --- but it is also a color, a shape, a volume or an arabesque in itself’”.

Creating a great garden is no easy task. Back when I worked at the Four Arts botanical garden, people would often comment “I wish I had this at my house”. I would always return with the answer that they could, and it would only take ‘time and money’. Since then I have reconsidered my answer to add that it also takes ‘a good eye’. Needed is a natural talent with an education to inspire oneself to create for others and self.

Unfortunately, Burle Marx left us in 1994, however, we have his books, his personal garden, and the many projects he created in South America. Some of which could be seen at the Rio Olympics. He also further inspired his friend Raymond Jungles to create wonderful gardens. Spectacular gardens, in my opinion. I have seen several in Miami, as well as the Brazilian section located in the Naples Botanic Garden on our west coast. A must-see garden.

Happy gardening to all,

Johanna, newsletter editor


President Patrick Dempsey called the meeting to order at 7:30pm.

He thanked Lee Statkewicz for getting to the building early to hold the room for our meeting.

Refreshments: Patrick thanked everyone that brought refreshments - Gwen Brown, Richard Grace, and Susan Roberts.

Patrick welcomed guests: Brian Hufford, Lena Ghaffar, Hassan Ghaffar and Louise Bing.

Patrick announced that Frances Drescher’s husband, Keith, passed away.

Patrick gave a summary of the November plant sale: The sale was a success with many repeat customers buying more begonias and understanding how to take care of them.

Patrick talked about plant workshops in the garden to begin again in the New Year, we need to reestablish the plants and replace many that were damaged during the hurricane.

Patrick talked about the Holiday Party which is a Pot Luck Dinner and we will play Begonia Bingo. If members are bringing a guest for bingo, the fee is $5.00.

A sign-up sheet was passed around to members for the covered dish they are preparing for the holiday party.

Johanna Kitson reported the following individuals have accepted nomination as new officers for 2018:
President: Sandra Arlund
Vice President: Virginia Jens
Secretary: Ed Whalen
Treasurer: Frances Drescher
National Rep: Johanna Kitson

A motion was made and seconded and the slate of officers for next year was approved unanimously by members. Installation of 2018 new officers will be done at December’s Holiday party.

Ira asked if we will have tours of member gardens. It was said that this will be discussed in the new year.

Virginia introduced speaker Don Miller from Ft Worth, Texas. Don is a hybridizer and volunteers at the Ft. Worth Botanical Garden. At the Ft. Worth Botanical Garden there is a species bank where there are about 1500 species of Begonias. Don also worked for Steve Leaves.

Don has traveled to Australia, Malaysia and other countries researching and discovering new Begonias. Don’s presentation tonight is on ‘Begonias, The Beautiful Herb’.

Enclosed is Don’s presentation.

Throughout the world in tropical regions where Begonias grow naturally, man has used them for food and medicine. Now in America we are beginning to learn how our favorite plant group can be used as a salad herb, delightful garnish and in herbal symbolism. In the language of herbs, Begonias symbolize Attention! And Woes be gone.

Many Begonia plants are savory. They have a sweet and sour taste much like oxalis or rhubarb. Begonias have large amounts of the sugar, fructose, and contain malic, oxalic and citric acids. They are also high in vitamin C.

In Sikkim and the Moluccas of Indonesia, begonias have been used to make a sauce that is used with meat and fish.

In China, Indonesia, and Brazil begonias are used in salads.

In the West Indies begonias are used as a tea for colds.

In Gabon B. auriculata and B. mannii are used in soups and salads.

In Java, the Philippines, and Brazil they are used as flavoring ingredients.

Mountain Pima children in northern Mexico chew on the stems and B. Gracillis specifically for the sour taste which they find refreshing,

Children in China have been reported to use B. grandis spp. Evansiana in the same manner as B. gracilis, although it is recognized as potentially dangerous.

The Tarahumara people of northern Mexico used the sap of B. gracilis as well as Oxalis to curdle milk in cheese making.

B. humilis is used in Trinidad for colds, cough, consumption, and fever.

Leaves of B. oxyloba are used in East Africa to expel parasites of the intestine.

The crushed leaves of B. glabra have significant anti-tumor properties.

B. cucullata is a diuretic and used like spinach as a vegetable in Brazil.

B. luxurians in Brazil is used for fever.

B. franconis is said to be a most tasty begonia.

B. isoptera is used as a poultice to treat an enlarged spleen in Java.

B. augustae is used in New Guinea to treat itching skin.

In Ecuador natives pick the stems of B. fuchsioides and chew them to relieve fatigue and thirst.

In Mexico the petioles of B. heracleiifolia and stems of B. incarnata are collected and eaten as vegetables.

The juice from the pulp of the crushed leaves of B. parviflora is applied for treating eye infections and tumors.

In America a Strawberry and Begonia pie is made from the stems of tuberous begonias.

The leaves and flowers of Semperflorens begonias and others are used in salads and as a garnish.

You must be cautioned that ingestion of large quantities of Begonias can be potentially toxic because of the oxalate content.

This information has been compiled by Don Miller. Most of this information comes from the publication “Economic Botany”, January-March 1992, published by The Society for Economic Botany, Articles in the “Begonian”, and the book “Begonias, Cultivation, Identification, and Natural History” by Mark Tebbitt.

Don also provided a handout of his presentation and the recipe for Begonia Strawberry Pie.

This was a very informative presentation. Don also had some samples of some Begonias from Ft Worth. They were auctioned.

Respectfully submitted,
Petra Russell, Recording Secretary