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Home > Begonian > Volume 68 (September/October 2001, pages 166 - 167)

Begonias in the Rockies

We came, we toured, we ate, we learned, we saw begonias, we bought begonias, we loved Denver!

The Rocky Mountain Begonia Branch is small, but their dedication was visible and they put on a convention with style and substance. It was a convention we shall all remember with pleasure.

Some of us came early and on Tuesday enjoyed a tour of the Air Force Academy where recruitment films and tour guides had us ready to turn in our applications. The Air Force Chapel was an architectural dream. Next, a visit to the Garden of the Gods - a stone garden near Colorado Springs - and to the Manitau Cliff Dwellings. Then finally we ended the first tour on a very high note with a visit to the private 5 acre Forest Edge Garden of Tim and Laura Spear where the city's discarded wood chips have been turned into a lush paradise for plants. Perennials grew to outlandish size and the sedums multiplied so fast they were treated like weeds.

Evenings were always relaxing and full of conversation at the Embassy Suites Reception hour and the ABS Hospitality Suite.

Wednesday we saw the Denver Botanic Gardens with lectures on potting soils and native plants, a look behind the scenes in the production greenhouses, and a visit to two small urban native plant gardens. After such a full day, just the faithful came to hear Freda Holley and Bruce Boardman (Tamsin was ill - Hope you're all well now, Tamsin!) talk about the Begonian and newsletters.

On Thursday, another tour off to Estes Park and the Stanley Hotel, famous as the location at which 'The Shining' was filmed. Mountain views were incredible and of course Mary Bucholtz found a begonia there. Meanwhile back at the Embassy ranch, the work began as plant show registration opened, show placement started, Boutique items began to appear, and plants were priced for the big sale. In the evening, again the faithful met to discuss "What it takes to put on a Convention." By the end, it was very clear that ABS needs a continuing committee to support convention givers.

Friday was show judging day and other convention goers went off to enjoy Denver on their own, returning in the afternoon for lunch followed by a delightful seminar with Joy Logee Martin appearing in video episodes intermixed with a live conversation with Rudy Ziesenhenne. The convention was dedicated to these two greats in the history of begonia culture and as Andy Conely said in his introduction, "Without a past there is no future." In this presentation we celebrated the great contributions Rudy and Joy have made to the American Begonia Society and to begonias in particular.

Of course, the line for the plant sale began early and boxes of plants disappeared into rooms within minutes. Since Andy had gathered plants from across the west and south, there were species and cultivars many of us had never seen before and, you know, WE HAD TO HAVE THEM! Then in to see the show winners. It was a small, but varied show with lots of unusual and even brand new begonias. It was particularly nice to see so many species exhibited.

By Sunday many of us had to leave, but others went off to see Mt. Goliath and Mt. Evans for a spectacular end to a spectacular convention.

B. 'Jelly Roll Morton' Left: B. 'Jelly Roll Morton' (B. 'Erythrophylla Helix' x wollnyi, rhizome with pink flowers, Johnson, CA 1979) growing in the Denver Botanic Garden greenhouses.



Right: B. 'Dragon Wings' suspended into the view.


B. 'Dragon Wings'

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