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Home > Begonian > Volume 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 director, explains:

"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 begonias."

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 hybrid.

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!"

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