December 29, 2011

Streptocarpus kentaniensis

On a seasonal note, one of my favorite gesneriads is blooming: Aeschynanthus longicaulis with its subtly colored flowers and purple pollen. Here's an old photo:

Aeschynanthus longicaulis - anthers

But I'm here to say a word about Streptocarpus kentaniensis, a species from South Africa. It is said to be quite a dry grower (and therefore good for underwaterers) and floriferous (although each flower is small).  The characteristic narrow leaves and flower count can be seen in many hybrids made from this species.

A dry grower sounds like a good candidate for me, but.... If you try this (as I first did) on a light shelf in a room that has a steady temperature (night and day, year-round), and water it on a flood/drought cycle (as I am like to do), then it will not bloom much at all, or even grow all that much. (You shouldn't be surprised, really, as not many houseplants would like to live like that.)  I've found it's not a "dry grower" but rather that it dislikes being wet. It has been much happier in a very porous mix with a mostly-steady supply of water, a feat I managed by placing it on my way to the coffee pot where it benefited from a daily water-check. Now I have one on a wick connected to a reservoir that dries out occasionally. 

As for the flowering, it only blooms for me on a windowsill: when the night temperatures started dropping and the windowsill got quite, quite cold, Streptocarpus kentaniensis decided it liked this much better and sent up a nice mass of flowers.  Here it is, with more flower spikes on the way:

Streptocarpus kentaniensis as of December 13, 2011

It's certainly not a show-worthy specimen - you can see the trimmed-off leaf tips and other signs of stress thanks to a summer of neglect. Its parent looked much better growing on my coffee route. But flowers? This one has flowers.

December 17, 2011

2012 meeting dates!

The 2012 meeting dates for the National Capital Area Chapter of The Gesneriad Society are now up on our website. We meet at the U.S. National Arboretum in NE Washington, DC. The dates are also on our Google calendar - link at right.

February 11, 2012 (Saturday) at 10:00 a.m: presentation by Barbara Stewart on dish gardens. Location: U.S. National Arboretum.

March 10, 2012 (Saturday) at 10:00 a.m: propagation workshop and plant swap. Location: U.S. National Arboretum.

April 14, 2012 (Saturday) at 10:00 a.m: presentation by Michael Riley, "Epiphytes in the Concrete Jungle". Location: U.S. National Arboretum.

The rest of the 2012 meetings: May 12, September 8, October 13, December 8. Programs to be determined, and all at 10:00 a.m. at the U.S. National Arboretum unless otherwise announced.

November 15, 2011

new issue of Gleanings

Yes, the November 2011 issue of The Gesneriad Society's free monthly electronic newsletter, Gleanings, is out, and it includes some photographs from our September show. This issue also contains photographs from the Frelinghuysen Arboretum Gesneriad Society's show, and an article about the incredible specimen of Nematanthus corticola exhibited at The Gesneriad Society's Convention back in July. Download Gleanings here.

October 12, 2011

upcoming events (gesneriads in DC and Baltimore)

Saturday October 15, 2011 at 10:00 a.m: joint meeting of The National Capital Area Chapter of The Gesneriad Society and the Potomac Branch of the American Begonia Society. John Boggan will present on "Testing the Limits with Hardy(ish) Gesneriads and Begonias" Location: U.S. National Arboretum.

Saturday October 15, 2011, 8:30 am to 5 pm: the Baltimore African Violet and Gesneriad Club's Annual Fall Sale. Location: The Shops at Kenilworth, 800 Kenilworth Drive, Towson, MD 21204.

November 10-12, 2011: Mid Atlantic African Violet Society Convention and Show in Timonium, near Baltimore, MD. See for details.

Sp Zima Ulybaetsia
Saintpaulia 'Zima Ulybaetsia', sighted at MAAVS 2008.

September 30, 2011

seasonal plant maintenance

If you saw our Show two weeks ago, you may have seen my glowing example of a cold-damaged Episcia. I had nonchalantly left it outside on Thursday night when our temperatures dipped below 50F. The next day, it still looked somewhat presentable when I entered it into the Show, but by Sunday afternoon it was so distressed I pronounced it dead. (Episcias sulk at anything below 70F, so cold and wet at under 50F is guaranteed disaster - I know this, and knew this, and yet....)

Although recently temperatures have been mild and humidity high, autumn weather should be arriving soon - just in time for October. Perhaps this is a good time to fish out something I wrote up 9 months ago....

#  #  #

I am actually writing this in January, when I am already seeing the “fruits” of my lackluster winter care. I think I was unusually inconsiderate (to the houseplants) this winter, but then again, I might be conveniently forgetting that I do the same thing every year.

is it possible
Don't let this be you.  Photo from January 2011: a Petrocosmea that wasn't given enough humidity through a heated winter.

Anyway, by the time you read this, it will be autumn and winter will be on its way again. Home growing environments tend to turn unfriendly to many gesneriads - dry air, cold drafts, cold windowsills..... What do you do to help your gesneriad collection emerge in good shape in the spring?

Some tips (mostly for home growers in winter, not greenhouse growers):

· Pest control.

Check for pests early, especially if you need to do any treatment outdoors.

· Check for cold spots.

Windows, windowsills, doorways, walls.... Look for cold spots and check if the plants in those locations can take the cold. Feel your windowsills - depending on the construction material, they may literally be freezing cold.

· Check south-facing windows

Check plants in south-facing windows to make sure they aren’t getting too much light during this time of year.

· Take cuttings.

Put down some cuttings of your favorite cold-sensitive plants like Episcia and keep them in a warm humid spot. Backup is always good.

· Rhizomatous plants.

Some rhizomatous plants like Kohleria may keep growing through the winter in a warm growing area. Others adhere to their internal clocks and will go dormant even if they are in a tropically warm environment. If the plants are dying back, rhizomes can be stored at room temperature or slightly cooler. Kohleria rhizomes can be kept slightly moist, whereas Achimenes rhizomes tend to rot easily and should be kept drier. Either way, it’s helpful to store them in a plastic bag so you can make sure they are not molding or drying up.

· Humidify.

Humidity-sensitive plants like Petrocosmea and Episcia may need extra help when the dry air arrives. You could use a humidity dome, humidifier, humidity trays or reservoirs (if it’s warm enough for the water to evaporate), clear color-less plastic containers, etc. If you are growing in sunlight, be careful with any enclosure as the sun can heat enclosed air to ungrowable temperatures. Grouping plants together, periodic showers, double-potting into a second pot filled loosely with long fiber sphagnum moss, are other tricks that might help.

· Watch your watering.

Plants’ water needs tend to go hand-in-hand with their growth rates. In other words, if they are growing less in the winter, they will need less water. But, there is a catch. If you have a warm, dry growing area (such as in a heated home), the pots may dry up much faster in winter than in summer - I have to INCREASE my watering through the winter for all non-dormant plants that are not in an enclosure.

· Trimming and pruning.

Some plants may benefit from some trimming or pruning. For example, some of my Sinningia continue growing weakly on the light shelves, whereas they would be dormant through the winter in a more natural environment. I trim them back sometime in the winter, especially in late winter if there are new shoots emerging.

Do you have more tips?  Send me an email - I'd love to hear them.

September 28, 2011

Strapping Streptocarpus

by Kenneth Moore

Earlier this month, at our chapter's semiannual show and sale, a good chunk of the event centered around featured speakers giving talks about different aspects of growing gesneriads. I was able to nab a chair for two of the talks, the first being hybridizer extraordinaire Dale Martens' talk on how to grow and show Streptocarpus like a pro.

Dale Martens next to one of her hybrids, Smithicodonia 'Heartland's Joy,' exhibited at our show by Nell Reese. Photo by me.

I'm a fan of Streptocarpus in general--but they just don't like me the way I like them. Sometimes, I think they choose to end their lives rather than remain in my care. So I was interested in learning what Dale had to share about growing these tricky beasts. One of the first tips? Wick watering!

Here's the little wick-watering diagram I sketched on my notes during the talk. Photo by me, too.

It's not something I've really yet tried, although I think I should at least give it a go if I want to keep growing Saintpaulia and Streptocarpus. Dale uses little plastic containers with lids that have two holes--one for the wick to go through and the other to refill the water. Inside the plastic container is a "diaper," she calls it--a plastic bag to hold the water. That way, when the water gets all icky, you can just throw away the plastic baggie instead of the more durable plastic tub.

She suggests leaching the plants by running clean water through them (which she does on a grate she places on top of her toilet) every 8 weeks and replacing the "diaper" bags when the water gets too green and icky. After leaching, Dale pours a cup of balanced fertilizer without urea through the soil as well (she suggests 1/4 tsp per gallon of Dyna-Gro Foliage-Pro 9-3-6 or 1/4 tsp per gallon Epsom Salts).

Wicking seems tricky to me--it's adding a technical/mechanical level on top of something that can be complicated enough when you grow plants from tons of different families. Dale says to use 2-ply acrylic yarn: Cotton rots, and 4-ply yarn is too thick--it'll suck up the water and keep your plant way too moist! Even with 2-ply yarn, you have to use light potting mixes chock full of perlite: Dale uses 1 part brand-name potting soil, 1 part perlite, and 1/2 part vermiculite. She also pasteurizes her soil (which is a totally good thing to do in theory, but for some reason I never seem to get around to trying that, either).

For light? Dale uses 4 T-8 fluorescent tubes (better light, less heat) or 2 T-12 on 12 hours each day, every day. (Okay, so I'm good on the T-12 score--that's my regime as well, so score at least one point in my plant-growing endeavors!)

We got a little down-'n-dirty with Dale and talked about baby-making. Streptocarpus flowers take some coaxing to get the best results--she suggests waiting about a week before introducing male bits to the female bits. Male bits (pollen) can be stored in the refrigerator until it's ready to be used. A fertilized flower should fall off pretty soon after fertilization, and the pod will ripen in about 8 weeks, turn brown, and untwist. Dale uses acrylic paints (cheap sets of little tubs at craft stores or Walmart for about $3, Dales says) to mark the calyx of pollinated flowers and labels the father on tags--so you can pollinate many mommy flowers on a single plant with a ton of different daddies! Sow seeds in a container with a lid (one of the best excuses to order Chinese delivery) and transplant in the first week after sprouting and every 2-3 weeks after that.

Using the acrylic paints, Dale marks a mommy flower's calyx and the tag with information about who the daddy is and the date of pollination. Photo graciously provided by Dale Martens.

An easier way to get new Streptocarpus may be by leaf sections--Dale suggests cutting horizontal (not the usual up-the-middle division) leaf sections under water and leaving them there for 3-5 minutes. Be sure to note which is the bottom end--that'll be the part you want to stick in the soil (or in a disgustingly green wick reservoir for about a month) for it to root. If you're leaf-propagating a variegated Streptocarpus, make sure the leaf section has a good mix of green and white or you'll end up with a less-interesting green--or a white plant without chlorophyll or the ability to survive.

If you already have a well-established plant, you may find several plant clumps growing together. You may want to divide them into separate plants--which Dale did with a sharp knife right in front of me. In a blink of an eye, with one swift slice through the root ball and a quick yank, she suddenly held two Streptocarpus up. It got my heart racing and scared the crap out of me--but the plants will be fine and healthy in a few weeks. She suggests trimming the older leaves (but leaving a bit of a stub, which may make new plants) and cutting flower stems for the next 3 months--you want the plant to develop its roots and leaves, not spend its energy trying to have sex.

What to do with all these beautifully grown and propagated Streptocarpus? Enter them into a gesneriad show, of course! Dale suggests planting the show plant in final show pots 5 months before a show to let it grow into its new home--the plants seem to bloom best when rootbound.

What will I do with my two new Streptocarpus 'Bristol's Moose Stash' and 'Christmas Morning' I got at the show the other week? I'm going to buy little plastic tubs of pecans and walnuts to make reservoirs for them and hopefully grow them well enough to have them show-worthy at the next NCAC show in spring 2013!

September 21, 2011

elsewhere on the web...

While we catch our breaths after the Show last weekend, why not browse through recent updates on Sinningia and Friends (such as the close up of a Sinningia concinna flower) or the Flickr gesneriads pool (such as Christian Feuillet's photograph of Codonanthe crassifolia in French Guiana)?

spotted sinningias
From left to right, Sinningia 'Country Crocus', Sinningia 'Ruffled Wood Nymph', and Sinningia concinna. This photo was taken three years ago, and I'm not sure where the plants are now. I'm pretty sure I've lost concinna, but may have the others.

September 16, 2011

the day before

In case you hadn't noticed... we have our gesneriad show this weekend.  ("We" being the National Capital Area Chapter of The Gesneriad Society, the DC area gesneriad group.)  Most of the show entries are on the tables now, and the rest should be arriving in the morning. It is quite a mad rush to get the entries in and ready for judging at 10 am. 

Although I spent all afternoon in the show room, I was too busy to look at the entries or take any photos (not that I would post them until after judging!).  I'm looking forward to some downtime on Sunday to browse the room. Photos forthcoming, of course.

Show Details:

At The Behnke Nurseries in Beltsville
Saturday, September 17, 2011
Show & Sale: 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Lecture at 1:30 p.m: “Basic Potting Mixes” by Lee Linett
Lecture at 3:30 p.m: “Streptocarpus” by Dale Martens

Sunday September 18, 2011
Show & Sale: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Lecture at 1:30 p.m: “What is a Gesneriad” by Jim Roberts
Lecture at 2:30 p.m: “Propagating Gesneriads” by Brian Connor
Lecture at 3:30 p.m. “Dish Gardens” by Barbara Stewart

September 14, 2011

Dish Gardens: Barbara Stewart

by Kenneth Moore

The upcoming show and sale of the National Capital Area Chapter of The Gesneriad Society includes several lectures about various gesneriad-growing topics.

On Sunday, September 18, at 3:30 pm at The Behnke Nurseries in Beltsville, Barbara Stewart will be sharing a dish garden program to demonstrate the mechanics of constructing dish gardens and the basic principles of design.

Entry No. 210
One of Barbara's Natural Garden entries in the 2009 Gesneriad Society Convention

Barbara is currently President of the Richmond African Violet Society and a member of NCAC, Mid-Atlantic African Violet Society, and the African Violet Society of America. She has won Best in Design a number of times in AVSA-sponsored shows, and several of her winning designs have been container gardens. She is working on enhancing her skills with gesneriad designs.

The show and sale are open to all--society members, chapter members, and the public. Check out the speakers schedule, peruse the sales table, or even enter your own plants into the show!

September 13, 2011

Propagating Gesneriads: Brian Connor

by Kenneth Moore 

The upcoming show and sale of the National Capital Area Chapter of The Gesneriad Society includes several lectures about various gesneriad-growing topics.

Brian Connor is an enthusiastic indoor gardener who has grown gesneriads since he was a teenager and is currently Program Chair of the NCAC chapter of The Gesneriad Society. On Sunday, September 18, at 2:30 pm at The Behnke Nurseries in Beltsville, Brian will be presenting a lecture on "Propagating Gesneriads," so you can learn the tips and tricks to sharing your favorite gessie with your friends, neighbors, and fellow society members! (It is rumored that this will be a hands-on session!)

Streptocarpus 'Neil's Strawberry'
Streptocarpus 'Neil's Strawberry' grown by Brian

Currently, he enjoys collecting and showing Sinningia, Streptocarpus, Episcia, Chirita, Saintpaulia (African Violets), Kohleria, Nematanthus, Smithiantha, and many other wonderful gesneriads. His plants are grown (mostly wicked) under fluorescent lights, natural sunlight, or a combination of the two.

Occasionally he tries his hand at orchids, begonias, and succulents. Plant cultivation (and propagation!) does not leave him much time to pursue his other interests such as travel, cooking, reading, and tennis. Flowering plants bring a number of unique joys and a few challenges to his life.

Brian is the Vice President of NCAC and was Flower Show Co-Chair for The Gesneriad Society’s annual convention in July 2011. He is also Vice President of the Baltimore African Violet and Gesneriad Club and an active member of the Mid Atlantic African Violet Society.

The show and sale are open to all--society members, chapter members, and the public. Check out the speakers schedule, peruse the sales table, or even enter your own plants into the show!

What Is A Gesneriad: Jim Roberts

by Kenneth Moore

The upcoming show and sale of the National Capital Area Chapter of The Gesneriad Society includes several lectures about various gesneriad-growing topics.

On Sunday, September 18, at 1:30 pm at The Behnke Nurseries in Beltsville, Jim Roberts will be presenting the talk "What is a Gesneriad?" Gesneriads are such a diverse family, it's often difficult to tell what ties them all together, Jim says. His talk will introduce the multitude of gesneriads in an approachable way for anyone to learn more about the family. "I'm not a botanist and will keep the talk non-scientific, or at least without a lot of terms that few will understand," Jim says.

Jim Roberts is a noted gesneriad hybridizer who has created many popular hybrids, particularly Kohleria ‘Emily Roberts’ and Gloxinia ‘Dragonsong.’ For 12 years he and his wife operated Roberts’ Gesneriads, selling more than 1,200 species and hybrids of gesneriads worldwide.

Gloxinia 'Dragonsong'
Jim's Gloxinia 'Dragonsong'

Jim is very active in The Gesneriad Society and currently serves on the Board of Directors and as the Convention Chair. He was the founder, President, and 1991 Local Convention Chair of the Baltimore Chapter of The Gesneriad Society. Jim is currently President of the National Capital Area Chapter of The Gesneriad Society and is also the Chair of NCAC’s 2011 show. He has won numerous show awards, including Best in Show for an Ornithoboea arachnoidea. He says about growing gesneriads: "I like them all," although he particularly likes old world genera such as Chirita, Petrocosmea, and more obscure genera such as Paraboea and Lysionotus. He is currently growing about 500 varieties under lights.

The show and sale are open to all--society members, chapter members, and the public. Check out the speakers schedule, peruse the sales table, or even enter your own plants into the show!

September 12, 2011

Streptocarpus: Dale Martens

by Kenneth Moore

The upcoming show and sale of the National Capital Area Chapter of The Gesneriad Society includes several lectures about various gesneriad-growing topics.

Dale Martens is a distinguished gesneriad grower and hybridizer who is especially well-known for her work in hybridizing Streptocarpus. In fact, it is likely that some of the plants you admire in shows are her hybrids!

Streptocarpus 'Dale's Scarlet Maccaw'
For example, Streptocarpus 'Dale's Scarlet Maccaw,' exhibited at The Gesneriad Society Convention in 2009.

We are especially pleased that Dale - who is based in Illinois - will be joining us this weekend.  On Saturday, September 17, at 3:30 pm at The Behnke Nurseries in Beltsville, during our gesneriad show and sale, Dale will present her talk "I Never Met A Streptocarpus I Didn't Like."

Dale has been growing gesneriads since the mid-1980s and has received the Award of Appreciation from The Gesneriad Society, as well as the Bronze Medal from the African Violet Society of America. She is Chair of the Gesneriad Hybridizers’ Association and co-editor of their newsletter, CrossWords. Dale is also a Master Gesneriad Society Judge and on the editorial staff of The Gesneriad Society journal, Gesneriads.

The show and sale are open to all--society members, chapter members, and the public. Check out the speakers schedule, peruse the sales table, or even enter your own plants into the show!

September 11, 2011

Basic Potting Mixes: Lee Linett

by Kenneth Moore

The upcoming show and sale of the National Capital Area Chapter of the Gesneriad Society includes several lectures about various gesneriad-growing topics.

On Saturday, September 17, at 1:30 pm at The Behnke Nurseries in Beltsville, Lee Linett will be keeping with the show's theme of Gesneriads on Broadway and giving the talk "A Mix For All Seasons," discussing basic potting mixes for gesneriads.

Lee has a long history with gesneriads. She has been growing plants indoors under lights for several decades, taught courses for the USDA Graduate School on growing plants indoors under lights, has volunteered for more than five years at the Smithsonian Institution's botany department, and authored numerous plant-related articles for various publications.

Entry No. 464, Petrocosmea Collection
Petrocosmea collection exhibited by Lee Linett at The Gesneriad Society's 2009 Convention.

She has served two terms as president of the American Gloxinia & Gesneriad Society (which is now The Gesneriad Society); was a national convention chair for 14 years; and has held awards chair, director, archives chair, convention judges chair, and Nominating Committee positions. Lee has also served as the assistant editor for the Gloxinian, The Gesneriad Society's predecessor to the Gesneriads journal. Her service to The Gesneriad Society has been recognized with an Award of Appreciation.

Lee has also been highly involved in the NCAC chapter as a founding member, past president, editor of the newsletter version of Petal Tones, and local convention chair (twice). She is currently the Hospitality Chair for the chapter.

Her favorite gesneriads are Drymonia, Episcia, and Columnea of the former Dalbergaria types.

The show and sale are open to all--society members, chapter members, and the public. Check out the speakers schedule, peruse the sales table, or even enter your own plants into the show!

September 9, 2011

Sinvana 'Mount Magazine'

xSinvana 'Mount Magazine'

Exhibited by Carol Hamelink at our 2010 show, this is an intergeneric cross made by Jon Lindstrom using Sinningia conspicua and Paliavania tenuiflora. You can see Jon's photographs of the original plant in his Flickr stream over here.

September 8, 2011

entry forms now online for the 9/17-18, 2011 show

Now that the entry form and show schedule (PDFs) are online, let me point out that you do not need to be a member of The Gesneriad Society to submit an entry. You also don't need to be a member of the local chapter, the National Capital Area Chapter. The first time I participated, I wasn't a member of either. (I have such fond memories of my first show! More on that later.)

Tray Landscape
Tray Landscape by Lee Linett at the 2010 Show.

Just what do you need to qualify?

Well, to enter a plant into our show, you need:
- a live gesneriad plant
- that has been in your care for at least the past 3 months
- and is free of pests or disease.

That's the basics - you can check out the full rules in the show schedule. Your plant will have to be placed into one of the show classes: the classes are explained in the show schedule too.

There are also classes for photographs, dish gardens, terrariums, and arrangements (all featuring gesneriads).*

The entries are scored by judges, and we have prizes. Yes, prizes!**

My first show? Well, umm.... I don't remember it at all, actually. My miniature African Violet (and maybe there was another plant?) was picked up and delivered to the show by a friend. It came back with a ribbon and an award - an out-of-print book on gesneriads. (I'm sure they were very generous in scoring my novice entry! There classes reserved for novices - people who have never won a blue ribbon.)

So... do you grow plants?  Got any gesneriads?

*Entries in the arrangements classes require pre-registration, and I'm sorry to say the deadline has passed.
**The Best Gesneriad in Show award is limited to members of either The Gesneriad Society or our local Chapter.

September 7, 2011

Streptocarpus 'Cape Essence'

We were fortunate to see Streptocarpus 'Cape Essence' at our last Show in 2010. This is an unusual hybrid in that one of its direct parents is a unifoliate species, Streptocarpus vandeleurii. The other parent is Streptocarpus 'Bristol Sunset'. 'Cape Essence' is a David Harley hybrid, and this specimen was exhibited by Ken Meier.

Streptocarpus 'Cape Essence'

Streptocarpus 'Cape Essence's

September 5, 2011

2011 Show and Sale in the DC area

The National Capital Area Chapter of The Gesneriad Society is having its 18-monthly show and sale in two weeks!  (Read on for dates and times.)  We hope you'll come and visit: you never know what unusual and stunning plants might be in the show, and we always have an interesting selection of plants for sale. 

Why every 18 months, you might ask?  Well.... Although many gesneriads can bloom during any season, some insist on blooming in late winter/early spring, while others grow only during the summer and bloom towards the end of the season.  If we always held the show during the same month, we'd never see some of the species in bloom.

Streptocarpus 'Roulette Cherry'
Streptocarpus 'Roulette Cherry', exhibited at our last show in March 2010.

Show title: Gesneriads on Broadway
(...that means the artistic arrangements section of the Show is inspired by Broadway)

Location: The Behnke Nurseries in Beltsville, 11300 Baltimore Ave, Beltsville, Maryland, 20705.  That's a short drive up Route 1 from I-495.

Saturday September 17, 2011, 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Lecture at 1:30 p.m: “Basic Potting Mixes” by Lee Linett
Lecture at 3:30 p.m: “Streptocarpus” by Dale Martens

Sunday September 18, 2011, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Lecture at 1:30 p.m: “What is a Gesneriad” by Jim Roberts
Lecture at 2:30 p.m: “Propagating Gesneriads” by Brian Connor
Lecture at 3:30 p.m. “Dish Gardens” by Barbara Stewart

August 31, 2011

Arrangements from the Convention

More Division II entries from the Convention.  Thanks again to Jim Roberts for the photographs and caption information.

Waterworks by Julie Thompson (blue ribbon, 92 points):

Punxsutawney Phil by Ben Paternoster (blue ribbon, 98 points):

Philadelphia Museum of Art by Neale Stuart-Merrimen (blue ribbon, 90 points):

Mummers by Mel Grice (blue ribbon, 93 points, Best in Section K):

Love Park by Neale Stuart-Merriman (blue ribbon, 95 points):

Challenge Class, Bartram's Garden, by Jill Fischer (blue ribbon, 96 points, Best in Section L):

Boathouse Row by Neale Stuart-Merriman (blue ribbon, 93 points):

Academy of Natural Sciences by Bob Clark (96 points, Best in Section M):

Chinatown by Barbara Festenstein (blue ribbon, 94 points):

Ben Franklin by Barbara Festenstein (blue ribbon, 91 points):

August 30, 2011

landscapes, terarriums, artwork from the Convention

Photographs of some of the Division II entries from the 2011 Convention: thanks to Jim Roberts for the photographs.

Best in the Arts, 98 points, Bruce Boyd:

Fabric art by Carol Ann Bonner (blue ribbon, 97 points):

Jill Fischer's Straight Sided Terrarium (blue ribbon, 96 points):

Jill Fischer's curved terrarium (blue ribbon, 93 points):

Landscape by Ben Paternoster (blue ribbon, 96 points):

August 27, 2011

hoping for the best (and begonias)

I hope everyone is staying safe while Irene makes its way up the eastern coast of the U.S.

This is a bit off the topic of gesneriads, but then begonias and gesneriads make for good companion plants. The Potomac Branch of the American Begonia Society has its show and sale this weekend in Alexandria, Virginia. I stopped by this morning to oogle the variety of begonias - from tiny terrarium-grown plants to large shrubby things to the tall canes, from old-time standards to the new and rare.  My photos below - but keep in mind that some of the best are missing because I didn't want to be too obnoxious pulling glass domes/lids off everything.

Weather permitting, the show will be open on Sunday from noon until 3:30. They have plants for sale as well.  (While you're there, say hi to Johanna who is a brilliant grower and also a member of the gesneriad society.)

The old faithful Dragon Wing:
another Dragon Wing

Begonia scintillans:
Begonia scintillans

Begonia minutifolia:
Begonia minutifolia

Begonia heracleifolia - the grower told me this plant's history, from her grandmother and through some rough dormant periods, to how it might be a catnip substitute...:
Begonia heracleifolia

Begonia heracleifolia

Begonia heracleifolia

Begonia U012:
Begonia U012

View down one of the tables:
Show tables

Begonia 'Richmondensis':
Begonia 'Richmondensis'

Begonia 'Sierra Silver Mist':
Begonia 'Sierra Silver Mist'

Begonia serratipetala:
Begonia serratipetala

August 25, 2011

more from the 2011 Convention

Yes, there's more. Some group photographs today.

This first one is a photo of the class of trained or sculptured gesneriads: the Mitraria coccinea in the center was exhibited by Michael Riley; the Chirita 'Bridal Veil' on the left, by Paul Kroll; and the Columnea 'Gold Heart' (reverted) on the right was exhibited by Charlene Marietti.

Trained or Sculptured Gesneriads

This next photograph is one entry: a Chirita Collection by Nancy Kast. The tall one in the back is Chirita linearifolia. Continuing clockwise, there is 'Aiko', gemella (the small one on the lower front right), 'Rachel' in bloom, and sinensis 'Hisako' on the left.

Chirita Collection by Nancy Kast

And this last one is an entry in one of the commercial classes, a group of Streptocarpus from Gary Hunter (Hunter's Greenhouse).

Commercial Display by Gary Hunter

August 24, 2011

Begonia Society Show and Sale Aug 27-28, 2011

Begonia versicolor
Begonia versicolor

Speaking of begonias... which we will be doing again in October, the American Begonia Society’s Potomac Branch will be having their 29th Annual Begonia Show and Sale this weekend:

See some photos from last year's show, through my fishy-eye over here.

Location: Green Spring Gardens Park, 6403 Green Spring Road, Alexandria, VA
Saturday-Sunday, August 27-28, 2011
Saturday August 27, 2011: 9:00 am to 4:30 pm
Sunday August 28, 2011: Noon to 3:30 pm
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August 23, 2011

Seemannia and August newsletter

If you attended the Convention in Philadelphia, you may have seen John Boggan talk about Seemannia:


Well, that slide is actually John talking about "Chirita" being extinct. (That is to say, name changes are being rolled out.  Look for more on this in a future issue of The Gesneriad Society's journal, Gesneriads.)

This one is more on point:
John Boggan speaking about Seemannia at The Gesneriad Society Convention 2011

Read more from John Boggan in the August 2011 issue of our newsletter, Petal Tones (the PDF edition). You can also see photographs of John's Seemannia on screen via this link (and note the begonias!). In particular, check out the photo below, which features his new hybrids 'Big Red', 'Little Red', 'Red Prince' and 'Dark Prince' - click through and read the description: