Monday, November 30, 2009

Wax begonias


As I was cleaning out the last of the fall debris from my garden a few weeks ago, I thought some of my sturdy wax begonias might look nice in a vase. I cut off twenty stems and displayed them in a low, narrow glass container, to good effect. The coppery leaves looked excellent with some rust colored candles I had picked up at a craft fair. I was pleased to have pink flowers gracing my Thanksgiving season table, refreshingly delicate when compared with the usual wheat-and-maple leaf cornucopias. I am not a very good caretaker of cut flowers, and I went about my life, ignoring the little flowers that were thriving away in the light of a southern window. I realized this morning they had roots. I had inadvertently created a nice collection of new begonia plants from my cuttings.

Wax begonias belong to that dubious category of plants recommended for "children and new gardeners". As soon as I read a phrase like this, the snob in me wants to reject these begonias out of hand. But then I remind myself that I have a child and I am a (fairly) new gardener. Sigh. This year, I am still going to try my hand at more sophisticated projects, like growing hellebore from seed. But wax begonias have their place: they are cheap, easy to grow, and look nice in a shady patch in my garden. And my child does love them.

Several writers also note that this is plant is a "classic choice" for apartment buildings and gas stations, much like my beloved and oft-maligned dusty millers. Instantly, I can conjure the image of sorry little begonia plants spaced too far away from each other, arranged in too regular of a pattern, and surrounded by a pile of dyed-red wood mulch. Not really the ambiance one is looking to create in a backyard oasis. To avoid this, I am going to change over to container plantings this upcoming year, and stagger them around the shady spots of my garden. If they still reference a gas station, so be it! I am an urban homesteader after all.

As for those containers, I guess I have a head start. We'll see if I can successfully overwinter these new cuttings. If I can't, I know there will be large, well-priced flats for sale at even the most basic nurseries. Gas station owners need to shop somewhere, too!

2 comments:

  1. It is so fun to try new plants and also to try to overwinter them. Everything is worth a try when it comes to plants. Starting plants from seeds for me is a hit and miss adventure. Some do well while others to my frustration always fail. I am sure it is me and not the seeds but I keep trying.I have a couple of pots of begonias starting to some up from seed now. I wanted to try to see if they would grow for me. So far so good ;-) Helebore's would be a very interesting plant to try from seed. Good luck.

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  2. I love begonias, stylish or not.

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