The National Begonia Society


Species & Hybrids
This section is presented by Society President Jeff Rhodes


Cane - like

Shrub - like
Tuberous / Semi tuberous
Thick stemmed

Rex Cultorum

Jeff Rhodes

   Ten bob each (50p in new money) was the price of my first named varieties of tuberous double begonias purchased from Ron White, a begonia nurseryman in Scotland.  The varieties were Sam Philips which was a deep yellow, Rosemary Moore a delicate white ground picotee, Everest a white and T.B.Toop which was bright orange.  I grew them fairly well and entered in pot plant classes at local shows with reasonable success.  At this level, a poor begonia was always a good match for a well-grown fuchsia.
   A visit to Southport flower Show, and a talk with the chaps on the begonia society bureau added to my interest.  Needless to say, I enrolled as a member of the NBS.
   The following year I decided to enter some exhibits in the Leeds Show.  One exhibit being a single pot plant of Sam Philips. EUREKA!  I WON!  It was also awarded ďThe Lady Milner VaseĒ for the best pot plant in the show.  Derek Telford, our editor  was the first to congratulate me, but I am sure he was a little peeved.  He had been after winning that trophy for a few years, but he is a good showman and accepted the result.  I must admit that when I now look at the photograph of that plant with itís somewhat flat blooms I am rather embarrassed, but it certainly was a boost for my ego.  However, Derek pulled his socks up and made sure that I didnít win the it the following year.

   At this time we had no local NBS area.  To meet up with the top growers we traveled over to the North West Area meetings at Chorley. These were very well attended and enjoyable meetings, and it was usual for two or three carloads to make the journey over the pennines on Friday evenings.
    Eventually I came to the conclusion that we had enough local support to have our own group, so I set about organising the Yorkshire & Humberside group.  This was successful, and after about two years we were designated an official area by the NBS.  I was appointed area rep, and our area show was held within The Leeds Flower Show, the committee of which was and still is of tremendous help.

   The NBS at that time was centred on Birmingham, all the committee lived there, and I felt that if it was to be a national society, it should have committee members from outside the Birmingham area.  I therefore put myself forward for nomination and was elected.  I served for a few years, but eventually through pressure of work, I resigned from committee and also my post as Area Rep.

   One of the criticisms at that time was that we, as a society, didnít cater for the growers of species begonias, so about five years ago I decided to grow some of these.  I found them to be very interesting.  Some of them are year-round plants. At the present time (November/December) I have twelve varieties in bloom. I have now disposed of all my stock of tuberous doubles and just grow the species and hybrids.
  I currently have upwards of fifty different varieties.  This entails keeping a greenhouse heated over winter, but by double-glazing one greenhouse, I can do this reasonably economically.

   I am now retired from my day job, so as any retired person knows, I have less time on my hands, but I am once again on NBS committee as Vice chairman, still an active member of the Yorkshire & Humberside Area, and, above all, still getting great pleasure from growing begonias.