Tag Archives: begonia

Trip Report: Begonia of the Cloud Forest

I am not an expert when it comes to Begonia.  There are so many species, even more cultivars and hybrids, and since I don’t actively collect these plants, there is really no hope of me ever being able to identify more than a handful of them.

I have seen my share of unique, and bizarre Begonia.  The Cloud Forest didn’t have anything really bizarre, but they had some really beautiful Begonia.  So, rather than flap my jowls, I’m going to just let you view these pictures in silence.

I promised not to babble too much with this post, but don’t you think that many Begonia just have an amazing way of reflecting light?

Aren’t these plants awesome?  Such variety of textures and colors.

I have still more photos from the Cloud Forest to come.

Trip Report: This and that in northern Arkansas

For our six year anniversary, Christie and I went to Eureka Springs for the weekend.  It was a relaxing weekend getaway.  Here are some snapshots of different plants we saw on our trip – ones I don’t see often (or ever).

Red Monarda
Large flowerbed of red Monarda

One plant that I have never seen before in person (that I can recall), but have seen in the plant catalogs is Monarda.  There were a lot of these in Eureka Springs.  They are really attractive when in bloom, but are tall and gangly.  They could be mistaken for a weed, if not obviously planted in a well-maintained flowerbed.

Canna at the Crescent Hotel
Canna at the Crescent Hotel

The canna above was growing in the gardens of the hilltop Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs.  We toured the notoriously quirky Quigley’s Castle, known as “the Ozark’s strangest dwelling.”  I debated writing a whole post about this place, but decided to just include it in this post with other plants from the area.  This house has flowerbeds inside the house around the entire perimeter, with plants growing up against the windows two storeys high – Bougainvillea, Hibiscus, Epiphyllum, Asparagus fern and others.  The most impressive plants (by virtue of their health and attractiveness) were the African violets and relatives.  The Flame Violets (Episcia) were particularly striking.

Various African violets and Flame violets
Various blue, purple and pink African violets (Saintpaulia) and red Flame violets (Episcia) in bloom.

The house – excuse me, “castle” – is surrounded by really nice gardens with some neat plants.  One of them looked a lot like Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum) to me, but was obviously something different.  It had some seed heads developing on it, so I had missed the flowers, unfortunately.  I posted photos of this plant on a forum and also sent pictures to a friend who lives in NW Arkansas.  They told me this plant is Uvularia grandiflora.

Unidentified plant
Uvularia grandiflora (Bellwort)

I looked at some photos online and it is really neat when in bloom.  I liked it even out of bloom for the interesting way the leaves attach to the stem.  They are called “perfoliate” leaves, which means that the leaf (or foliage) is seemingly pierced (or perforated) by the stem – perfoliate.  Perfoliate leaves are a subcategory of “sessile” leaves.  Sessile means that the leaf is attached directly to the main stem without a stalk or peduncle leading to the leaf base.

Unidentified plant
Uvularia grandiflora (Bellwort). Check out the unusual (perfoliate) way the leaves attach to the stem.

On our way home we passed through Bentonville (headquarters of Wal-Mart), following our outdated GPS directory to a once-existent location of the famous AQ Chicken House.  After finding this location was no longer opened, we headed to Springdale, the original location.  Thanks to this detour, we happened upon a nice nursery, which Christie let me enjoy, giving our bellies a little more time to get hungry for lunch since it was still early.  The blue-gray leaved plant below is now on my landscape plant wish list.  Isn’t it awesome?  I just need to find a place to plant it.  Then I need to find one for sale closer than Arkansas!

Fothergilla major Blue Shadow
Fothergilla major Blue Shadow

At our most recent MidAmerica chapter meeting of the IAS several members were discussing hardy plants (to Oklahoma, Arkansas and Texas) that have that tropical look, with large, glossy leaves.  There was a plant growing at this nursery (below) that, upon first glance, I thought was a Philodendron.  Pretty quickly I realized it was not a Philodendron, and not even a tropical.  It is Acanathus mollis ‘Oak Leaf’, commonly called Bear’s Breeches (what a weird name for a plant…).

Acanthus mollis 'Oak Leaf' aka Bear's Breeches
Acanthus mollis 'Oak Leaf' aka Bear's Breeches

The nursery had these large Begonias going for $30 each.  That’s more than I want to spend for a Begonia, but they were very mature and an attractive variety – in nice pots, no less.


And yes, I did buy a couple of small plants at the nursery – a yellow shrimp (Pachystachys lutea) and a red shrimp (Justicia brandegeana).  I’ve had both of these in the past, but lost mine.

Trip Report: Renovated Myriad Gardens

Last week the Myriad Botanical Gardens and Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory in Oklahoma City reopened after a year of renovations.  The purpose was primarily to replace the 20-year old panels that were past their prime.  While they were taking the place apart, they went ahead and repainted the structure, revamped the layout of the interior a bit, laying new walkways and completely redoing the behind-the-scenes staff and educational area.  For now, only the publicly seen area is finished and the rest still needs a lot of work.  During the year that the renovations were being done, most of the plants were covered with tarps, protecting the plants while also blocking out the light.  Some plants survived and others did not.

[Note: I apologize up front if my pictures are not up to snuff.  I just got a smart phone recently and all of these pictures were taken with my phone, since I didn’t have my camera with me.  Although it takes pretty good pictures, I don’t have as much control over focus, flash or exposure.  Some of the images are out of focus and I didn’t realize it at the time.  Others are a bit grainy, due to the exposure.  Others (especially close-ups) look pretty decent.]

Miniature Powder Puff (Calliandra emarginata)
Miniature Powder Puff (Calliandra emarginata)
One of many flashy Bromeliads planted all over the place.
A couple of the many flashy Bromeliads planted all over the place.

I had the opportunity to be in the Crystal Bridge (CB) on opening day this last week as a volunteer during the Arts Festival.  I was happy to see that many of the special plants in the CB were still there and in decent condition – the Jamaica Poinsettia Tree (Euphorbia punicea), many tall Palms, the spoon-leaf Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia parvifolia), the Golden Chalice vine (Solandra maxima), many Cycads, several prize Aroids, and many Euphorbias and other succulents on the dry side of the CB.  In fact, those Cycads are all doing really well – almost all of them are “in cone” right now, which is cool if you’re a Cycad-person, and even pretty neat if you’re not (like me).  Kenton, the education director at the Myriad, pointed out to me that one of the Cycads was producing smaller leaves than normal, but also making some offsets.  The last year probably stressed this plant into making offspring in ways that it usually does not.

Cycad that looks like bamboo
Cycad that looks like bamboo. Notice the prevalent cones at the base!

Since I don’t know my Cycads and didn’t bother to look at the identifying tags (when available), I’m just calling these like I see them.

Very grassy-looking Cycad.  There are cones at the base of this one too, but it's pretty impossible to see in this picture.
Very grassy-looking Cycad. There are cones at the base of this one too, but it's pretty impossible to see in this picture.
One of the larger Cycads at the CB.  This one is about 8-10' tall and has cones hanging down, as you can see on the right side of the picture.
One of the larger Cycads at the CB. This one is about 8-10' tall and has cones hanging down, as you can see on the right side of the picture.

For now, the empty space where plants were lost has been filled in with TONS of Bromeliads and Orchids.  It’s very pretty and colorful, but has a different feel from what it used to have.  It is kind of like 50 each of 8-10 different species, rather than 400-500 different species, like it used to be.  My guess – especially after talking with Kenton – is that this choice of plants was just to fill up the space to get it started with.  Some of the more unique and interesting plants that were previously here (and will be here again) take longer to track down and acquire.  I look forward to seeing the CB evolve over the next 10 years or so.  I imagine it will become a jungle once more!  But I was thoroughly enjoying looking at all of the different orchids tucked into every crook and cranny.  I know that even if these plants are ignored, in the wonderful growing environment of the CB, these plants will continue to grow and bloom every year.  Even though there were a lot of Oncidiums and a couple of Cattleya (both common), there were also some less common orchids, like Zygopetalums, Phaius, Bletilla and others whose names I can’t think of right now.

Zygopetallum orchid
A really nice Zygopetallum orchid. I just love the mixture of colors in these flowers.
Unknown Dendrobium orchid
Unknown Dendrobium orchid
Interesting orchid blooms resting on a bromeliad leaf
Interesting orchid blooms resting on a bromeliad leaf
Unknown orchid - maybe a Dendrobium.  I have to say this is my favorite picture from my two days in the CB.  It's just perfection.
Unknown orchid - maybe a Dendrobium. I have to say this is my favorite picture from my two days in the CB. The scene is just perfection.
I only know Bletillas well enough to realize this was one.  I don't have any ideas on the species or hybrid name.  It's a pretty plant, though.
I only know Bletillas well enough to realize this was one. I don't have any ideas on the species or hybrid name. It's a pretty plant, though. Bletillas are terrestrial, along with the Phaius which are planted in the CB.

As always, there are many Gingers and Begonias planted in the CB.  There are a couple of mature Begonias that I can tell were salvaged from before the construction.  These are mostly tall cane-like Begonias that are probably true species.  Most of the new ones are clearly hybrids – very colorful and unusual looking things.

An unknown Begonia, probably a hybrid.
An unknown Begonia, probably a hybrid. The silvery blue foliage is a winner in my book!
Another unknown Begonia
Another unknown Begonia with vibrant and rough leaves.

I leave you with one picture of the Myriad just before closing time.  They now have colored lights installed in the CB, which show off the cool structure from the outside at night.  You can see from this picture how wide the walking area is now, since they widened the path and the plants are not yet pushing their bounds.

View from inside the Myriad Crystal Bridge at night
View from inside the Myriad Crystal Bridge at night.

Beefsteak Begonia in bloom

The Beefsteak Begonia (Begonia ‘Erythrophylla’) is grown for it’s foliage – very large, round dark colored leaves.  But that doesn’t prevent it from blooming.

Beefsteak Begonia blooms
Beefsteak Begonia blooms

A while back a neighbor gave me some cuttings of her Beefsteak Begonia – 4 large leaves with stems attached.  I rooted the leaves and then gave 2 of them to my mother-in-law, who grows some Begonias.  We both planted the leaves in potting soil about the same time.  My plant is now in a small 4″ pot with about 8 leaves.  Hers is in a 12″ or larger pot with about 8 million leaves!  In fact, I think Cheryl’s plant is probably larger than the parent plant from which the cuttings were taken.

My mother-in-law's monstrous Beefsteak Begonia in bloom
My mother-in-law's monstrous Beefsteak Begonia (Begonia 'Erythrophylla') in bloom

A week or two back she reported to me that it now has tall, thick bloom stalks with little pink flowers on the ends.  Not to be outdone, my own tiny plant decided to put up a little bloom stalk of its own.

My tiny Beefsteak Begonia
My tiny Beefsteak Begonia

Beefsteak Begonia starts

My neighbor across the street gave me four cuttings of her large Beefsteak Begonia (Begonia ‘Erythrophylla’) for me to root.  Begonias are generally pretty easy to root from leaf cuttings.  These cuttings took about a month to produce a nice set of roots.

Roots began to form after just about a week in water
Roots began to form after just about a week in water

The beefsteak Begonia has very large, waxy and thick leaves.  They are dark green on top and purple underneath.

Underside of the Begonia leaves
Underside of the Begonia leaves

The petioles are rough with small hairs.  It is a very attractive plant, that is usually pretty dense with leaves that droop down to the soil surface, or over the edge of the pot.  You couldn’t even see the pot buried  underneath my neighbor’s plant.  I’m hoping to have as much luck with my cuttings.