Three Beautiful Begonias to add Enchantment to the Garden14th August 2013 • Stephanie's Blog • Stephanie Donaldson
If your experience of begonias is limited to bedding plants and large fleshy-flowered varieties in a range of very bright colours then think again. That was certainly the response when visitors to my open garden saw some of my more unusual begonias. I had a feeling that they would attract comment so I labelled them. The undoubted star of the show was Begonia Escargot – thus named for its extraordinary curling leaf that resembles a snail shell – and then there’s its wonderful markings. I bought my plant several years ago from Dibley’s Nursery at the Hampton Court Flower Show and it just keeps on going. It comes into the kitchen for winter. Begonia sutherlandii is another favourite – it’s dainty flowers and small leaves make it perfect for displaying on top of a chimney pot where it can cascade. I bought the tiny corms online from Ebay two years ago after I lost my previous plant during the very cold winter. In late autumn I gradually withdraw water and let the plants die back so that they overwinter as corms in the greenhouse. In spring I start to water again and start to feed once the leaves are showing. Begonia grandis subsp. evansiana ‘Sublime’ will bear bright pink flowers in the autumn, but in the meantime its leaves are bright green on top and richly veined in red on their undersides. It is hardy and lives very happily in a large pot under my mimosa tree where it is shady and sheltered. It dies back completely in the winter when I generally dig up a bit of the root to keep in the greenhouse as (so far unneeded) insurance against losing the parent plant. I bought this lovely plant from Edulis at the Great Dixter Plant Fair two years ago. This year’s fair takes place on 5th-6th October and is unmissable for anyone keen on plants.