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Home > Begonian > Volume 67 (September/October 2000, pages 174 - 176)

Begonias by the Beach in a Clamshell 
by Janet Brown 

Convention Chairperson Virginia Jens and her committee put on a wonderful show for us. The hotel was lovely and most of the very large suites had ocean views and balconies to store our many purchases. Florida has a style all its own. The vegetation is lush, the weather balmy and delightful (at least in May), the begonias gorgeous.

The Tours A few hardy souls led by Gene Joyner started things off with an early morning flight to Freeport on Grand Bahama Island. We were met by our charming and delightful tour leader from the Freeport Garden Club. The island is threaded with blue/green canals that open to the ocean. Most of the houses are on these canals with docks and boats and wonderful gardens. We saw some of these places and were amazed at their beauty considering that the island has no soil at all. The ground is made up of coral and shells and everything has to be amended to get anything to grow. We finished our day with a High Tea at our tour leader's incredibly beautiful home and garden. The ladies of the Garden Club treated us like royalty with delicious tidbits served on English china. We flew back in the late afternoon with wonderful memories.

The other tours were excellent with Tim Anderson's. Palm Hammock being a high point for begonia lovers and buyers. When we 'debussed' who should be there to greet us at the entrance but Jeanne and Wally Jones surrounded by suitcases and, of course, tons of plants. Jeanne had about cleaned the place out while waiting for the bus to arrive. Actually there was plenty left for the rest of us. We had lunch at beautiful Flamingo Gardens. On Saturday we visited a garden in Palm Beach Shores very close to the hotel. Our hostess was Eleanor Heslin who has only been gardening at this house since February. It was a riot of tropical color blending and complementing perfectly -- so many different alocasias, diffenbachias, caladiums, crotons in purples, pinks, yellows. Then we went on to the world famous tropical rain forest designed by Gene Joyner. Gene is an expert horticulturist and designer well known in Florida "for his radio and TV broadcasts. He has designed a jungle garden like no other filled with butterflies and birds, tropical fruit trees, a sausage tree and of course many begonias.

Tamsin Boardman caught (left to right) Mary Fuqua, Scott Hoover, Normand Dufresne, and Wanda and Richard Mcnair enjoying Palm Hammock. Mary and Scott were Convention seminar speakers. And Janet Brown caught Mary Sakamoto and Margaret Fischer on their way to the Grand Bahamas while Mary was yet to learn she would win the Herbert P. Dyckman Award.

The Show

There were so many beautiful plants it is hard to describe. Some of the most outstanding ones, at least to California eyes, were 3 huge B. egregia and a B. 'Lana' in a big pot packed with blooming canes and 5 feet high. And these did not win trophies. Joyce Pridgen took many trophies as well as Best in Show. Greg Sytch, Charles Jaros, Virginia Jens and Tim Anderson followed along with many winners. The New Introduction Trophy was given to Greg Sytch for his B. 'Careless Whisper'---gorgeous --- and he later auctioned it at the banquet for $$$.

The Sale: Plants & boutique

The plant sale was the usual madhouse and the plants terrific. I missed the beginning because I took the opportunity to get photos of the trophy winners while the crowds were at the sale. But there were many delightful plants and we all came away happy. The Boutique was glorious. Our old, Friend John Tan from Singapore donated the most beautiful begonia fabric items--napkins in cotton, scarves in silk, pillow covers--they were so beautiful they took your breath away. I succumbed! Joan Patterson the artist who designed the leaded glass trophies for the show also had a booth with many lovely things, jewelry and leaded glass. I did not escape there either. And some of our old friends from September 99 were seen again: T shirts, cards, tote bags.

The Seminars

Exceptional! We started with the charming and unstoppable Hugh McLauchlan who wowed us with "No Business like Show Business". Hugh was elegant in a celadon jacket and green plaid tie as he showed us his slides of the Scottish Begonia Society's shows. They took home an astounding three gold medals in one season at the Royal Horticultural, Royal Highlander, and Strathclyde shows. We saw a slide of a beautiful new introduction of Hugh's a delicate pink tuberous with a slight picotee named B. "Mrs. Elizabeth McLauchlan". We remember her well.

Next, Carrie Karegeannes spoke on working with herbariums and the importance of type specimen plants for future reference. She said that there has been no complete collection of begonia species since Alphonse de Candolle's work in the 1800's. Carrie showed several of her collection, masterfully done. A most interesting and fascinating talk by this charming lady. She also won the Poetry contest First Prize for a lovely poem on B. grandis ssp. evansiana.

It was wonderful to finally meet Ewen Donaldson, the General Manager of Glasgow Botanic Gardens and the man who sent us the beautiful begonia banners for our LA convention. They were in Florida and it was great to see them again. Ewen's talk was most interesting and deserves more space. He told about collecting specimens in New Guinea and about the great work on begonias done at Glasgow Botanic for many centuries.

Scott Hoover's boss, Dr. Mary Fuqua, told about the New England Tropical Conservatory of which she is President. They are responsible for Scott's findings in Indonesia, growing the seed, writing about the findings and passing on the species. They are working on plans for a very large greenhouse for exhibitions and education and hope someday to have a rain forest with a catwalk for viewing. Mary is a very charming lady who knows a lot about begonias and the collections are in very good hands.

Almost forgot Scott Hoover. He had one, of his special late night shows that started at about 10:45 p.m. after the banquet and the finish of the board meeting. The slide projector went berserk and flew through the whole show in about a minute. His report of the Indonesian trip was most interesting. He collected about 140 plants and seed through all kinds of weather problems. At one point they had to break camp after four nights of heavy rains. The trip was very successful. My last note on this seminar was "too tired to write more". Sorry, Scott.

Seminar Chairman Charles Jaros is to be congratulated on great speakers.

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