Plants - Flower Bulbs

Aromatherapy: Growing scented tuberous begonias

By
Stephen Westcott-Gratton

The delightful fragrance of these blooms brings a new dimension to a favourite garden standby


begonias-pinkblush.jpgFinding tubers
Most Grade A tubers will produce healthy, vigorous plants with lots of gorgeous blooms, but why stop there? How about fragrance? Although they’ve been around in small quantities for years, fragrant tuberous begonias are one of horticulture’s best-kept secrets.

Gardenimport
Fortunately for Canadian gardeners, Dugald Cameron, president of Gardenimport in Thornhill, Ontario, has been growing and selling scented begonias for more than 20 years, sourcing them from the only two growers that still produce them in any quantity: Golden State Bulb Growers in California and the vener­able old firm of Blackmore & Langdon in the United Kingdom. Most fragrant begonias have a pendulous habit and a fresh, lemony-citrus smell, while others may emit a perfume more like ripe melons or even musk roses. All the scents add a priceless extra dimension to these much-loved flowers.

Blackmore & Langdon
In England, the firm of Blackmore & Langdon was established in 1901, specializing in delphiniums and tuberous begonias. The company won its first Royal Horticultural Society Gold Medal for begonias in 1903, and has dominated both the awards and advances in begonia and delphinium breeding ever since. I spent two weeks with the Langdons at their nursery near Bath several years ago, and can confirm the widely held belief that they produce the best begonias in the world.

Gardenimport sells jumbo-sized tubers that produce more vigorous plants with bigger blooms; Blackmore & Langdon tubers are the exception to the rule and are naturally small, although they produce massive flowers.

Main image: Sunrise begonia and inset image: Pink Blush courtesy of Tulip World

 

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