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Sacramento hosts national begonia convention

These are examples from the begonia collection of Wendy Corby, chair of the upcoming show. (Photos: Debbie Arrington)

Hundreds of rare plants available to the public in Sept. 7 sale

It’s a begonia lover’s dream: Hundreds of plants and dozens of experts all in one place.

And next week, that place is Sacramento.

For the first time in four decades, Sacramento will host the American Begonia Society’s national convention, to be held next week at the Crowne Plaza Hotel Northeast. A gigantic plant sale and huge judged show will be open free to the public next Saturday, Sept. 7.

Due to the convention, the Joan Coulat Chapter’s annual Sacramento show and sale will not be held that weekend at the Shepard Garden and Arts Center. Instead, make plans to go to the Crowne Plaza and take your pick from the spectacular assortment of sale plants available as well as admire the award-winning specimens in the national show.

Sacramento hasn’t hosted the national convention since 1978. A lot has happened in the begonia world, including the discovery of new species and the hybridization of thousands more.

“We’ll have speakers from Australia, China, Indonesia,” said show chair Wendy Corby, a longtime Sacramento begonia grower. “People will find out what’s going on with begonias worldwide.”

Two more speakers from China were scheduled to appear at the convention, but were denied visas, she noted.

Begonias have fans everywhere because there are so many different kinds, Corby explained. With more than 1,800 species, it ranks among the largest and most diverse plant families on Earth.

California is a major begonia-growing state. “We have more branches of the (American) Begonia Society in California than any other state,” Corby said. “Texas is second. The reason they’re so popular here is we can grow them outdoors year round. Otherwise, you have to have a greenhouse or grow them indoors. Begonias just love it here.”

Begonias come in a wide range of species such as this angel wing variety
from Wendy Corby's collection.
Show organizers brought in top-class plants from major nurseries and hybridizers for the sale. That includes 300 plants from Kartuz Greenhouse in Vista and 800 from Warren’s Nursery in Los Osos. Dozens of hard-to-find miniature terrarium begonias will be available. Local growers also donated hundreds of their own propagated plants

For the public, show and sale hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 7. Crowne Plaza Hotel Sacramento Northeast is located at 5321 Date Ave., Sacramento, just off Interstate 80 at Madison Avenue.

Co-hosted by the Sacramento and San Francisco chapters, the convention starts Monday with tours, seminars and speakers each day through Sept. 7. Among the featured speakers are Ross Bolwell, who presents “Begonia Breeding the Aussie Way,” and China’s Wen-Ke Dong, who will tell how “All Roads Lead to Begonia.” Both will be part of Wednesday evening’s programs. Convention registration is needed to attend seminars and tours.

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Garden Checklist for week of July 7

Take care of garden chores early in the morning, concentrating on watering. We’re still in survival mode until this heat wave breaks.

* Keep your vegetable garden watered, mulched and weeded. Water before 8 a.m. to conserve moisture.

* Prevent sunburn; provide temporary shade for tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons, squash and other crops with “sensitive” skin.

* Hold off on feeding plants until temperatures cool back down to “normal” range. That means daytime highs in the low to mid 90s.

* Don’t let tomatoes wilt or dry out completely. Give tomatoes a deep watering two to three times a week. Harvest vegetables promptly to encourage plants to produce more.

* Squash especially tends to grow rapidly in hot weather. Keep an eye on zucchini.

* Some weeds thrive in hot weather. Whack them before they go to seed.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushy plants and more flowers in September.

* Harvest tomatoes, squash, peppers and eggplant. Prompt picking will help keep plants producing.

* Remove spent flowers from roses, daylilies and other bloomers as they finish flowering.

* Pinch off blooms from basil so the plant will grow more leaves.

* Cut back lavender after flowering to promote a second bloom.

* One good thing about hot days: Most lawns stop growing when temperatures top 95 degrees. Keep mower blades set on high.

* Once the weather cools down a little, it’s not too late to add a splash of color. Plant petunias, snapdragons, zinnias and marigolds.

* After the heat wave, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, winter squash and sunflowers. Make sure the seeds stay hydrated.

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