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Seeds: Plant sales keep Sacramento flower clubs hopping

Published: Saturday, Sep. 8, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 3CALIFORNIA LIFE

Joan Coulat, Sacramento's beloved begonia lady, has her hands full this weekend. She's hoping local plant lovers will come to her rescue.

The problem? Too many begonias.

Today and Sunday, the Sacramento chapter of the American Begonia Society will host its annual show and sale at the Shepard Garden and Arts Center in McKinley Park.

Themed "Begonias Ahoy!," the show ushers in an autumn rush of local flower and garden events.

"It's a fabulous introduction to the wonderful world of begonias and also provides a chance to start growing them at home," said Coulat, the show's chairwoman.

Scores of unusual and rare begonias will be on display. In addition, seminars will be offered each day on the basics of begonias and how to keep them happy. That includes proper soils, pruning, planting and grooming.

Coulat's begonias may be too happy. All summer, she nurtured 1,000 plants for the sale. She kept them in a greenhouse at soon-to-be-closed Capital Nursery on Freeport Boulevard, where she's worked for more than a quarter-century.

"I experimented this year," she said. "Every week, I gave them a different fertilizer."

To her amazement, the begonias responded with rapid growth and big bursts of flowers.

"Well, I won't do that again," Coulat lamented. "I thought I was being good, but I can't believe how they grew! I repotted 100 of them in 6-inch pots. I could have repotted more, but we ran out of time."

Coulat's dilemma is a begonia bonanza for gardeners.

"The sale plants are gorgeous," said Coulat, noting most will be priced from $4 to $6. "We've got everything: Rex, trailing, canes, rhizomatous, all flowering. There are a lot of really unusual ones, too.

"We'll sell them rather cheap because we've got to get rid of them," she said in exasperation. "Capital is going to be bulldozed down – I can't take them back!"

Capital's two other nurseries will remain open in Citrus Heights and Elk Grove. But Coulat isn't sure where she'll wind up.

"They told me I still have a job," said Coulat, who has served as the nursery's buyer for many years. "I'll be working at the Freeport store (during the moving sale). I'll be here until the very end."

She just hopes the begonias won't be moving with her.

Violets galore

One thing's for sure: The begonias can't stay put – they've got to make room for violets.

With lots of plants also in search of lots of buyers, the Delta Gesneriad and African Violet Society has a similar situation for its upcoming 25th annual show and sale, set for next weekend at Shepard Garden and Arts Center.

"We will have about 1,000 African violet plants for sale, most of them grown by our own members, and of varieties that cannot be found in local stores," said show coordinator Kathy Norton.

Like Coulat, Norton doesn't want to take dozens of plants home from the club's show. She'd much rather they find new homes.

In addition to the popular sale, the Delta show features colorful displays of African violets and their close cousins, gesnariads. Experts will be on hand to offer advice.

"Our talented artist and club member, Claire Boatright, will be there selling her handcrafted ceramic self-watering flower pots, too," Norton said.

And the show has a special offer: Free repotting of African violets with the purchase of a flower pot and plant.

Both shows serve as the major fundraisers for their clubs. Besides picking up some pretty plants, patrons help assure that these clubs will continue and prosper.

And as both Coulat and Norton noted, these plants make great gifts.


SACRAMENTO CHAPTER, AMERICAN BEGONIA SOCIETY SHOW AND SALE

Where: Shepard Garden and Arts Center, 3330 McKinley Blvd., Sacramento

When: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. today and Sunday

Admission: Free

Details: (916) 283-5960

Extras: Free seminars will be offered at noon, 2 and 3 p.m. today and 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Sunday. A festive tea will be served at 1 p.m. Sunday.


25th ANNUAL DELTA GESNERIAD AND AFRICAN VIOLET SOCIETY SHOW AND SALE

Where: Shepard Garden and Arts Center, 3330 McKinley Blvd., Sacramento

When: 1-4 p.m. next Saturday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sept. 16

Admission: Free

Details: www.sacviolets.org

Also: Free advice on growing violets and gesneriads. In addition to plants, growing supplies and pots will be offered for sale. Repotting available.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Debbie Arrington



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