> Volume 72 (January/February 2005, pages 6 - 7)
An Old Begonia Gets a New Name
by Rekha Morris
In a general article on begonias which I wrote for the
December 2001 issue of Carolina Gardener I described a fibrous
rooted semperflorens begonia, which was referred to as the 'Friendship
Begonia' because it has been passed along among several generations of
family members and friends. As best as I have been able to determine, it
originated somewhere in the Norfolk, VA area before finding a home in the
garden of a friend, Barbara Rogers, who also gave it to her
neighbor in Anderson, SC. On a visit to Barbara Rogers' garden I was
astonished to see it not only growing in full sun in the inexorable heat
of a South Carolina July but also at its size. While Barbara's plants were
a couple of feet high and as wide, those in her neighbor's garden growing
against a 5' high chain link fence were almost as high as the fence and
equally wide. Covered in white flowers they looked as happy and
comfortable as though they were ensconced in the cool, moist rain forests
of the Sierra Madre mountains of Mexico.
Since that momentous encounter I have introduced this
begonia, now known as 'Barbara Rogers', to Dr. Alan Armitage of the
University of Georgia, who after growing it in his trial fields has given
it a rating of 4 out of 5 for performance and hardiness to zone 7. After a
recent lecture of mine at the J.C. Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh, NC on a
trip to document begonias in Veracruz earlier this year [April 2004 trip
to be described in the later this year], a prominent southeastern
plantsman, Tony Avent, inquired about any begonias I might be
familiar with which might be hardy to zone 7. B. 'Barbara Rogers'
was the first to come to mind, and since then I have been able to pass
along a clump of this begonia to Tony to propagate at his renowned
nursery, Plants Delight Nursery, Inc., at Juniper Level Botanic
B. 'Barbara Rogers'
close-up and on the fence above.
It will not be long before B. 'Barbara Rogers'
makes it way not only across the southeast but perhaps also across the
continents, as widely dispersed clients of Plants Delight Nursery begin to
learn of its tolerant and easy going disposition accompanied by a
propensity for rapid and robust growth which enables a well established
specimen to grow some five feet in one