2008 - Multiflora & Garden Begonias
In spite of the wet and damp summer and lack of sunshine, the
multifloras have never been better and the bloom volume and ability to
stand all the rain has proved how invaluable they are for garden use.
Whilst beds and containers planted with Impatiens have had enough and
died, the multifloras have gone from strength to strength and I think my
show is an improvement on the previous years. I find it interesting to
look at the pictures over the past 3 seasons, 2006 was warmer than the
past couple of years, and looking at the images only proves how useful
they are for garden display in various weather conditions.
(Images 44, 45, and 46).
A couple of plants of Begonia; gracilis martiana,
or Hollyhock begonia have succumbed to the continuing wet weather and
rotted at the base. Coming from Mexico I suppose this is not too
surprising, on the other hand their foliage looks very healthy and they
have been in bloom for many weeks. They have now started to develop
their bulbils a picture of these is shown in
image 47; every year I find a number of them will fall and
grow outside in the soil and are flowering by mid August, the winter
outside does not kill them off so they must be reasonably hardy.
“La Madelon” in Jeff Abbots garden was looking very good in the
early part of the month (Image 48),
in most seasons it is starting to look tired by this time of the year,
so we can assume the cool conditions have also suited this variety very
well. It is a variety that is the first to start after the winter rest
and the first that comes into flower, usually showing a few flowers when
it is planted out in early June. Whilst its flower shape is somewhat
rough, the colour is superb with masses of flowers that almost hide the
The picture of “Flutterbye” (image 37
in the July page) continues to grow strongly and the plants in
the container in Phil Crosswell’s garden now measure 47 inches across
and 38 inches high, which includes the container. There are 3 tubers
planted they about 3 years old, and being planted in full light the
colour of the flowers is very bright this has persuaded me that this is
the best way to grow this variety of mine. The plants growing in my
front garden are not being shown in the best way, as they are too
crowded and are hidden by other plants around them.
One disappointment has been the late change of the flowers of
“Peardrop” in my garden, in normal summers the flower centre changes to
yellow from early to mid August; this is shown on the flowers grown in
the greenhouse (image 49). I think
it requires slightly higher temperatures for this colour change, in fact
on a visit to Germany at the beginning of July, the plants being grown
in the propagation nursery all had this attractive coloured centre. Even
so the salmon rose colour is still bright and showy.
The lush growth this season has as much to do with applying
dolomite lime to the garden in mid winter, something that it seems many
growers no longer think about, although this was standard practice when
I grew vegetables over 50 years ago. The growth of “Yellowhammer” that
can be seen in image 50, is more
lush than it has been in previous years. Blood, Fish, and bone
fertilizer was also spread over the soil surface a few weeks before
planting in late May.
I have had many requests for this variety, but it has a fault in
the yellowing of the foliage one reason it has not been distributed,
although it has been tested for 10 different viruses these have proved
negative. We have come to the conclusion that this must be a genetic
fault; I had hoped that it would now have been available commercially so
it is back to the drawing board to try to breed this out.
Flower pouches can make a good display when planted with
semperflorans begonias, the ones pictured image
51 being grown by my friend Phil Crosswell, ideal for
covering a fence. I have tried them, but never seem to obtain the
success that Phil has.
Mildew continues to crop up from time to time, using Fungus Clear
from Scotts seems to cure the
problem for many weeks, it is well worth the £5.00.
and wet conditions continued in the early to mid part of the month, and
to my surprise “Le Flamboyant” had an early attack of mildew, something
not usually expected until late in the season, an application of a
systematic fungicide soon cured this.
for the month was to use the biological treatment to kill off any vine
weevil grubs, this is a nematode that gains entry to the grubs, once
inside it releases a bacteria which kills it within 48 hours. The
nematodes reproduce inside the dead grub and are then released back into
the soil to infect more vine weevil grubs. Trade name “Nemasys” Steinernema
I used them
for the first time last year it proved extremely effective as the only
plant that showing some grubs was a non treated pot of Semperflorans
The nematodes are watered into your pots and around any plants in
your garden, so can seek out any grubs, even any that have already
gained access to any tubers.
of the poor weather by the middle of the month the front garden was
becoming quite colourful, although as in previous years a number of
errors in my planting became apparent, as I had tried to plant a middle
section with a lot of pink and salmon. The arched planting of
“Yellowhammer “ would have looked better had I carried the planting into
a full arch, as the varieties planted in the centre being lower growing
varieties spoiled the overall effect. (Image
disappointment was the single flowered varieties planted to the rear of
the display, as in this position they do not show to good effect, they
are more suited to container display as can be seen in the picture of
“Flutterbye”grown by my friend Phil Crosswell.
mentioned as being hardy in some parts of the country in the
the picture of this in my daughters garden in Jersey
(Image 38) taken at the beginning of
the month shows how well it can perform, this is after a number of years
in this position. also noticeable was that the tubers have now pushed
themselves to the surface, although they where originally planted about
4 inches below the gravel into the soil underneath.
there were some plants of “Flutterbye”apricot available in garden
centres this year, they should be more readily available next season as
there were a few production problems early this season.
dot plant or two can help in the overall effect when planting out any
bedding scheme, the grasses used are a dark leaved millet
(Image 39), standard Fuchsias,
Cannas and even the tall flowered Lobelias are also useful but one of
the best dot planting I have seen is in a bed in Jeff Abbot's rear
garden. This was a large basket planted with “Le Flamboyant” set on top
of a post, the planting shown (Image 40)
was taken down last season and overwintered in his greenhouse. Without
removing the tubers from the container, watering was started at the
usual time and the display in the old compost could not be better. The
picture shows an empty basket the same size as the one in flower.
of varieties I use are not generally available but a couple of them
could be in limited commercial production for next season and in a few
garden centres. The old variety “Ami Jean Bard” which was bred by Arthur
Billard in 1909 being one of them (Image 41).
The varieties Madame Richard Galle and Gents Jewel being sports from
this and came on the picture in 1932, I was fortunate in finding a
yellow sport from Madame Richard Galle a few years ago and there are
hopes that this will also be available next season. It has been named
Lemondrops, and whilst it looks very like Frau Helen Harmes, the colour
is a little brighter and the habit the same as Ami Jean Bard and the
other sports. (Image 42).
warmer conditions of the past few weeks although wet at times, have
brought the flowers out and the front garden is now looking quite
colourful (Image 43), although there
are a few patches where the plants have not grown as I would have liked
may be interested in the ongoing Tarsonamid mite problems, I have heard
of Foxgloves and Penstemons being infected, and seen an infection on
some pepper plants, so looking around thinking you have inadvertently
brought an infected plant into your greenhouse may be totally wrong. As
there could be distinct possibility that other plants in your garden
other than begonias could be infected, and these have spread the mites
to your begonias.
MAY & JUNE
MARCH & APRIL
SEPTEMBER & OCTOBER
BY DENNIS NEED
RECENT & NEW BEGONIAS FOR 2009
Begonias in the Garden
Basket or Pendula
Basket Begonia Gallery
Multiflora Begonias Gallery