47 (July 1980)
Round Robins: How the robins can help you
by Jan Clark
Many ABS members participate enthusiastically in the
Round Robin program. What is a Round Robin? Mabel Corwin, past Round Robin
"A Round Robin is a small club of people from all over
the world. They like to talk about their begonias, learn about them, and
ask questions about them. Since they live so far apart, they can't meet in
person, so they meet and become friends through correspondence. Each group
is called a flight, and shares a packet of letters from each member.
"A robin usually makes its rounds in two or three
months. Many people belong to several Robins, and all agree that a packet
is worth waiting for!"
There are about eight members on a flight, and
currently there are more than 100 flights, on topics ranging from "arid
climate begonia growing" all the way down the alphabet to "windowsill
Friends around the globe
Robin members make friends crosscountry and around the
world. Recently a member from Pennsylvania visited a fellow Robin in
Washington. Though they had corresponded for many years, they had never
met face to face. It was a memorable experience for both.
In one recent Robin, Hikoichi Arakawa (Japan) eagerly
anticipated renewing acquaintances with his many American friends at the
upcoming Long Beach convention, while another Robin, Marie Treat
(Pennsylvania) shared her experiences from the New York ABS convention
with fellow Robins who couldn't make the trip themselves.
Robin letters are always welcome, but never more than
in bad weather. Awash in California rains, Diane Fries wrote: "Your
letters arrived just in time to take me out of the doldrums." And after a
February blizzard Lena Bussard (Kansas) commented: "It's such a joy to
receive the robins at this time of year; it helps break the 'cabin fever.'
Swapping growing information
Robin members discuss their growing methods with each
other. For example, Mike Ludwig (California), an avid terrarium
enthusiast, described some of his planting ideas: "Space is as important
as the plants. Use a rock or stick instead of a plant. Good rocks and
sticks are hard to come by, so keep looking. Try something natural.
Imagine a rock cliff. No soil except in cracks, and a few ferns. Begonias
or gesneriads tucked in only a few nooks and crannies."
Sharing cuttings, seeds
Robin members not only share advice, they generously
share cuttings and seeds with each other. On offering a start of a choice
begonia to a fellow Robin member, Elaine Ross (Louisiana) spoke for many
Robin friends: "It is indeed a pleasure for me, especially in knowing it
would please someone. We have so many things becoming extinct these days
-- it seems right to share a plant and keep it in cultivation. Besides, I
may one day lose mine and may need a cutting fromyou!"
And there's fun., too
Sometimes the Robins are an excuse for just plain fun
between begoniacs. In a recent Robin, Patrick Worley (California) lamented
the difficulty of choosing just the right name for a special begonia
Kit Jeans (Tennessee) retorted, tongue in cheek, that
names are no problem at all. "Mostly my names come from books I read. And
I read a lot!" But it turned out the Aussies one-upped them both, when
Bernard Yorke (Brisbane) revealed, "Mickey Meyer uses an Aboriginal
Dictionary, whilst I use the Racing Form!"