Monday, March 4, 2013

Brilliant Begonias for the Basket

I thought today's blog should include some bright colors as it looks like a lot more white stuff is on the way tomorrow and Wednesday.  They are predicting between 6"-10" of accumulation.  I envision an imminent future for me that includes a snowblower and shovel.  Regardless, we had a solid turnout at the Horticulture Center today.  Urban was the only one to head out in the garden (pruning) but we had plenty of activity inside the Horticulture Center.  Dr. Gredler continued painting cucumber supports while Vern continued re-staining benches.  Our bench sanding team included Mary W., Gene, Ron Y., Jim D. and Dave T.  Del worked on tool sharpening and Pat continued some improvements on his giant obelisk project.  Larry ran some errands, purchased supplies and is working on some of our vehicles in preparation for spring.  We also saw Big John, Bill O. and many others.  Jenny and Dave E. came in to pick up plant stakes as they are preparing our annual labels at home.  Gary worked on servicing the laser engraver and all seems to be well and it's running smoothly.  Mandy worked on mounting perennial labels on their stakes and Pat C. finished production of our first wave of vegetable labels for the spring plant sale.  I worked on various projects, all of which involve preparations prior to the busy spring.  

The two photos above and the one directly below are of the trailing begonia (Begonia boliviensis) called 'Santa Cruz Sunset'.  This new variety from Benary Seed is a non-stop summer bloomer and as seen here on a 104 degree F, July day in Michigan, can tolerate plenty of sunlight.  I took all of these images at C. Raker & Sons Nursery trial gardens although we had this variety at RBG as well.  We have been using trailing begonias here at RBG for many years in not only containers but along the edges of low walls, slopes and other nooks and crannies where the spreading/cascading nature of these selections is appropriate.

Our first two trailing begonia varieties that enticed me years ago can be seen directly below, side by side.  To the left is 'Bellfire' and to the right, 'Bonfire Orange'.  I was so impressed with their durability, particularly in part sun areas.  We use lots of "other" begonias at RBG in bedding schemes, containers and other compositions.  We always have durable wax begonias, Dragon Wing begonias, Rex begonias and other types for either foliage and/or blooms.  While many of these are durable in shadier conditions, most of the trailing begonia species will be fine in part sun or even full blazing sun with adequate moisture.  Imagine the impact of having thousands of dangling blossoms with accompanying pollinators and hummingbirds!   The trailing begonias are a primary focus in breeding and promotional efforts and are finding a permanent niche in containers; particularly in hanging baskets.  I've identified each photo below and encourage you to do some more research on those that entice you to re-engage and appreciate begonias in the summer garden!  There are many more wonderful varieties out there that should be explored as well.

'Bellfire' (left) and 'Bonfire Orange' (right)
'Bonfire Scarlet' at RBG
'Bonfire Scarlet' bloom close-up
'Bonfire Orange'
'Bonfire Orange' w/ 'Molten Lava' Oxalis vulcanicola (RBG)
'Sparkle Scarlet'
'Careless Whisper'
'Summer Wings Orange'
'Waterfall Encanto Falls Red'
'Waterfall Encanto Falls Red'
'Waterfall Encanto Falls Orange'
'Ikon Blush White'
'Oi Anna' (Ball Seed)

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