I’ve got a new edition of Happiness Cards with some new images along with old favorites. I’ll be showing all 30 over the next month. Here’s the first:
These beautiful flowers begin as dust-fine seeds that produce the tubers that become begonia plants that blossom. Despite their fragile appearance, begonias are easy to grow given the right climate. A cool, wet environment is what they like. I am lucky enough to live on the Northern California coast where begonias thrive.
I’ve had 3 baskets of hanging begonias outside my living room window for 8 or 10 years. I water them once a week, unless we have a good rain storm or it’s unusually dry and hot, and they bloom profusely.
These are the blossoms from one of my 3 begonias. About a month ago the leaves began withering and dropping off. I cut it back to the tuber and it’s putting out new, healthy leaves. I never figured out the cause, nor could anyone I asked.
This is from the same plant as the flowers above, but I photographed it on a light box. The other was taken outside. Begonias are native to many tropical and sub-tropical of the world. Although I’ve read that they can be propagated from a single leaf or a cutting, I haven’t tried that myself.
Begonias have cane-like stems where they store water and are said to be drought-tolerant. Maybe, but I know they’re happiest in a cool, damp climate.
They are related to squash, pumpkins, cucumbers and melons. I didn’t realize that when I set up the flowers for this shot. I included the squash blossom for color, but now I know it’s also a family gathering.
.Often it is the sexual organs of these flowers that provide interest and variety.
Last week dahlias were my favorite flowers, but now I’m not sure. Could be begonias.
They’re my favorite flowers today because I’ve been photographing them every weekend, but probably it will be begonias next. I’m fickle when it comes to flower favorites.
Did you know that these beautiful flowers are the national flower of Mexico and the City Flower of Seattle? The ancient Aztecs used the tubers as food and the stems as siphons and straws. In fact, the Aztec name for dahlias translates to “water cane.”
“If you’re lucky enough to have them growing in your garden, Sunset Western Garden Book recommends cutting them for indoor enjoyment early in the morning or evening. Placing them into into 2″ to 3″ of hot water and leaving them there until the water cools will prolong their life.
Dahlias most need good soil, adequate space (depending on variety), low nitrogen fertilizer and staking. But if you have them growing in your garden in the Northern Hemisphere it will soon be time to prepare the tubers for winter.
Some dahlia trees have been found that are 20 feet high! There is some dispute as to who named the plant, but no argument about its being named after Anders Dahl, a Swedish botanist who studied with Carl Lineaus.
These photographs were taken at the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens and more can be seen on my website, www.happinesscards.net. Copyright Connie Fledderjohann, 2015
There are enough Happiness Cards out in the world that everyone in Hajduboszormeny, Hungary could have one, or Pudsey, England, or Alice Springs, Australia. In fact, everyone living on the Mendocino Coast, where I make my home, could have 3 cards, even the kids. Amazingly, I’ve sold and given away more than 29,000 and just took delivery on 9,000 more. A dozen are new photos and quotations: Here are four of the new ones:
Like the giant redwoods that begin from a small cone, begonias germinate from dust-fine seeds that grow into plants that can produce huge blossoms. Most gardeners, however, begin with tubers rather than seeds.
There are 1,500 named species of begonias that come in every color except blue. The dark green leaves provide a striking background for the flowers. I’m lucky enough to live in a cool, wet climate that is perfect for growing them. The Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens has a large collection that I have photographed for several years, and many of those images are on my Happiness Cards.
I regret that I’m not more knowledgeable about the names. Many plants at the botanical gardens have only descriptive tags. I’m not very interested in the names for myself, but I know some of my readers would like some identification.
This photograph was published in a book a few years ago. I had not indicated which was the top of the photo, and it was printed upside down with the caption, “Into the Heart of Mystery.” I hadn’t realized how much it resembles a heart until I saw it in the book.