> About ABS > History
History of the American
The American Begonia Society was born of the Great Depression. In 1932, begonia growing, horticultural classification, and scientific study were in their adolescence. Lots of today's species were undiscovered and hybrids not yet developed.
Against that backdrop, a handful of enthusiasts led by Herbert P. Dyckman met in Long Beach, Calif., on a January evening with the idea of forming an organization to advance the cause of begonias. These plants could be grown outdoors -- some year-round -- in California.
The group that emerged was called the California Begonia Society. It grew rapidly and by June 1934 changed its name to reflect a more national orientation. Now, in 1980, the American Begonia Society numbers in excess of 2,000 members around the world.
Each receives the society's magazine, The Begonian, and can take advantage of numerous services, including seed sales, a mail-order bookstore, library, and round robin program. (See the inside back cover for a list of ABS services.)
The society's first publication was a mimeographed Monthly Bulletin launched in January 1934. It adopted its format as The Begonian in July 1938.
ABS maintains 54 branches across the U.S. Members discuss begonia culture, learn about new plants, and stage demonstrations and shows. The first ABS branch was established in Ventura, Calif., in 1937 -- now named after pioneer western plantswoman Theodosia Burr Shepherd.
A year later, an Eastern Branch was formed at Pomfret, Conn. This spawned numerous branches in the eastern U.S. and widespread interest in the East in begonia culture under artificial light and in greenhouses, as well as an abiding interest in scientific and technical aspects of the genus.
There are large concentrations of members in the East, California, Florida, Texas, the Pacific Northwest, and other areas, plus active members in less-populated regions. Several hundred members are in other countries. More than half of ABS' members are at-large -- they have no branch affiliation.
The Aims and Purposes of the ABS provide the misson and philosophy which have guided the organization since is founding by Herbert P. Dyckman in 1932.
- To stimulate and promote interest in begonias and other shade-loving plants.
- To encourage the introduction and development of new types of these plants.
- To standardize the nomenclature of begonias.
- To gather and publish information in regard to kinds, propagation, and culture of begonias and companion plants
- To issue a bulletin that will be mailed to all members of the society.
- To bring into friendly contact all who love and grow begonias.