Flower of the Week!
The Begonia

For the 4th summer in  a row I haven’t had a single flower in my backyard until August.

And I don’t imagine things will change next year.

What happens is,  every spring I end up undertaking some ridiculously huge project in the backyard.  Something along the lines of rebuilding my backyard or putting up a new fence or … building a chicken coop.

Obviously I’m not going to run out to the garden centres in May or June when my backyard is filled with power tools and the occasional dried up, dead plant rolling by like a tumbleweed.

So most years, I don’t end up buying my annual plants and flowers until late July or August.

The downside to this of course is the fact that I don’t have flowers in my backyard until August.  The upside is, every flower I buy is so cheap, it’d give a $5 hooker a run for her money.  By this time of year, garden centres are looking to practically give stuff away just to make room for something ridiculous like Christmas decorations.  Or at the very least, potted mums.

The other advantage to getting your plants in August is they’re looking strong and healthy when everyone else’s are starting to fade.  I won’t get sick of watering them for another couple of weeks, so I’m guaranteed to have a good lookin’ backyard for at least the next month or so.  At which point, it’s almost time to start packing things up for the fall anyway.  At which point I’ll go to the garden centre to buy mums and they’ll be sold out, or on the clearance rack in order to make room for the Easter decorations.  It’s hard to keep up with the retail mentality.

Most years the annual trip to the garden centre takes place with a relative.  Often my niece.  Last year it was Betty.

Observe Betty on my annual trip to the garden centre last year  …


Betty claims she’s still picking cedar out of her hair from last year so this year I enlisted the help of my sister Lisa.  I did not show Lisa the picture of Betty from the previous year, so she agreed to go with me.

Observe Lisa on my annual trip to the garden centre this year …


I’m running out of relatives to trick into doing this.  Basically I like company while picking out plants, but there isn’t actually any room left in my car for “said company” once I’m done my plant shopping.  They inevitably end up with something large and potted on their lap.

In my sister’s case, it was a begonia.

A rather large … rather massive begonia.  Why a begonia?  Well …

This year’s trip to the garden centre was made especially easy due to the fact that I didn’t have to make a single decision.  The only thing left in the whole garden centre were massive begonias and Boston Ferns.  I normally break out the Boston Ferns in the summertime.  You can’t go wrong with a Boston Fern, I always say.  Actually I’ve never said that, but that’s the general sentiment I often think when I see them in magazines.    So they were already on my list of things I wanted to buy.

Along with several other plants.  Which were not to be had, because apparently they were already living in other people’s backyards.  People who shopped for their plants, prior to the back to school commercials airing.

So Boston Ferns and red Begonias it was!  Now I feel I should state that if given a choice, I never would have chosen red begonias for my backyard.  Ever.  In a million years.

Would  not have picked them.  Ever.

But now that they’re in place, I love them.

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Besides, these mammoths were  priced to clear at only $9.99 each.  I bought several.

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But the very best thing about the whole garden centre experience this year (aside from the fact that saved all kinds of money which I can now spend on cheese) was the fact that I discovered something about begonias.

You can use them as cut flowers!  And quite successfully, I might add.  I first added them to a mixed arrangement of garden flowers and then, seeing their potential, did an entire little, casual arrangement out of them all by their lone selves.

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I love this little arrangement.  It’s one of those “Hey cute little arrangement!  You make me smile like a deranged person!”  kindda things.  So do yourself a favour and whip outside today and grab a few things from the garden and make your own charming little arrangement.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a backyard to enjoy.  For precisely 10 minutes, before I have to start making dinner which may or may not contain cheese.



  1. Mary says:

    I love begonias and think they’re beautiful. BUT, I’ve got to be honest. I need my chicken coop crack and you’re the supplier. 😀

    • Karen says:

      Mary – I know. I know. Like I told Denise and countless others … ” I only finished the coop and got the backyard cleaned up last weekend. Therefore I only got the pictures taken yesterday and a final one tonight. Therefore no coop post yet. I’m not trying to hold out on you … these things just take a lot longer than most people expect. I have to wait for a day with good lighting, I need to clean up the coop from weeks of use by the chickens (remove poop from the walls to make pictures look a bit better), sweep the yard around the coop, remove a huge air conditioner from a house window directly opposite the coop so I can get a better shot etc. etc. Swear to you … I’m going as quickly as I can with this. I will state, here and now that there will be a chicken coop post up next week. Hand to heart. ” ~ karen!

      • Mary says:

        Awesome! I totally understand! Such pressure we blog readers put on you! 🙂 In the meantime, I’ll try to keep my withdrawal shakes at a minimum (had to keep going with the drug metaphor).

  2. Alliey says:

    Love your scarlet begonias. My father was a huge Grateful Dead fan (aka, Deadhead), and I try to plant some of these every year in remembrance, as there’s really no such thing as a sugar magnolia.

  3. Arlene says:

    Those are really lovely begonias. I’m a lazy gardener these days as I don’t have the space, but when I did have a garden, I used a lot of perrenials. The California poppies self seeded as well as a few others, so I didn’t have to worry about buying new plants. Is there a reason you don’t do this?

    • Karen says:

      Arlene – I have scads of perennials. The problem is, for the most part perennials only flower once or twice a season and with annuals, they flower all season long. So … I get a bunch of annuals to ensure the garden has a some things that are always in bloom. Like geraniums or begonias or impatiens. Also, I like to have things in large planters, which perennials don’t always do well in. And finally, annuals give you a chance to change up your garden every year! Like redecorating. 🙂 ~ karen

  4. Nelda says:

    You know what…I’m going to the garden center tomorrow to buy some cheap begonias. I will then THROW AWAY the stupid huge geraniums I bought early this summer. Why? Because they are infected with a ravenous cheese-eating bug, I mean flower destroying bug called a geranium bud worm. Gross. The primary function of these one bazillion tiny worms is to make a tiny hole in EVERY SINGLE flower bud on the entire plant, thus depriving humans of seeing ANY flowers. I might as well have waited till late in the season and bought cheap ass begonias since I HAVE NO FLOWERS ANYWAY. P.S. Why not just spray these nasty worms? Turns out they are resistant to everything short of a nuclear bomb…which I don’t want in my back yard.

    • Pam'a says:

      I hate geraniums. Actually, the ones we usually call geraniums are pelargonums. Geraniums are the perennials, like Johnson’s Blue.

      Whatever. Pelargonums sucked me in for years, sitting there all sexy at the garden store, blooming away… Then they never looked that good again, even without bugs.

      Begonias not only look great outside, they’re wonderful indoor plants for winter. If you take a few small cuttings before frost, they’ll root out in no time…free!

  5. KarenJ says:

    You could have an angry mob on your hands chanting “coop, coop, coop” (lol)…

  6. alice says:

    Well, I’m just curious about the pictures — why are those plants in the car on your trips “to” the garden centres? Do you trade them in for something?

    Kidding aside, your begonias look gorgeous!

  7. Betty looks hostile in that pic…..lol Totally hilarious!


  8. Amy in StL says:

    I sincerely hope dinner includes cheese. In fact, dinner should always include cheese… I might just have 5 kinds of cheese in my fridge right now and after dinner I hope to only have three kinds of cheese. Cheeeeessssseeeeee

  9. Another Karen says:

    Huh! I never thought of using begonias as a cut flower. I do like them because they don’t mind negligence and I’m pretty good at that. I put a few of them in a terra cotta box, set it in the shade, and they are happy little group – always blooming, never complaining. Looks like a few of them will be visiting the inside of the house…

  10. Valerie says:

    Chicken manure is one of the richest fertilizers and often unavailable in the city…this could be the next big thing…Karen’s Homegrown Growth Nuggets…. Karen’s testament to recycling, at its very best. My garden suggestion for next summer: this fall take a few clean dry glass jars with you when you are out on walks (that is if you ever get over the wall to leave your property.) In your neighbourhood gather poppy pods (ripening right now) and hollyhock seeds (will be available in a month – but right now you would be able to see the colour of the bloom.) Sprinkle (broadcast) the poppy seeds in the fall – everywhere – and bury little groups of hollyhock seeds into the soil about an inch – next to a fence is useful – staking then is not required. Each of these perennials, once started will bloom year after year with little care or fuss. Clematis vines love the shade and among the various Clematis varieties you could have one blooming the whole summer somewhere on your property. The English Garden jumbled up effect is great, very colourful and easy peezy.

  11. Babie Knoop says:

    I love this idea of grabbing those great August sales in what’s left of the garden center! I always go in May and buy up the expensive stuff…and then proceed broke for the rest of the summer …but I have awesome porches to enjoy….besides the deer will eat EVERYTHING come August!!

  12. Evalyn says:

    The begonia you pictured is one my mother always called “Blooming Idiot” because it blooms in such profusion. No idea what it’s really called, but I grow it because I love begonias, it blooms like an idiot, and it doesn’t die under my “care.”

    • Pam'a says:

      Bloomin’ idiot! LOL!! I love that.

      I’m pretty sure it’s a type of Angel Wing begonia, thusly named for the leaf shape.

  13. Lauren says:

    The heck with the flowers. I have to comment on Betty. This is the woman who turned 75 last year??? Seriously? I think you owe it to everyone to tell us her secret. C’mon spill it! She looks fabulous!

    • Karen says:

      Lauren – Yup. She was 75 when the picture was taken. She turned 76 last week. She doesn’t really have a secret. She does swear on occasion. Often at me. That probably helps. ~ karen

  14. Barbara H. says:

    Wow – Betty – 75 in the picture. I never would have guessed! But I digress – I’m so relieved I haven’t missed the finished coop pictures! I was thinking it had slipped by and I’d have to go back through post by post – what a relief! Seriously, discovered you not long ago and haven’t stopped laughing yet.

    • Karen says:

      Barbara – Don’t forget, if you’re ever looking for something the search box in my right sidebar is very handy! I used it myself just tongiht. Works great. 🙂 ~ karen

  15. Gayla T says:

    Just got around to reading this one. Did the cut begonias root? I brought all my flowers in pots into my back porch that is glassed in. Never had a place to do it before and it’s been devine. It’s not very big so it was about wall to wall flowers and so cheery all winter. I only felt like I needed to put a heater on a couple of nights. I just love this house and that porch is one of the reasons.

  16. Mel says:

    Be careful bringing begonias inside. Earwigs love living inside of the flowers. Spray well with planet and plant friendly bug killer and shake like crazy first. Same goes for dahlias. Beautiful to cut and bring in but scary if you start getting those nasty bugs crawling out. *Shiver*

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