Begonias

Begonias have been synonymous with Ballarat since the late 1800’s and to this day we still celebrate this magnificent genus each March with the Ballarat Begonia Festival.

Begonia flower forms vary significantly and therefore a typical Begonia flower can be difficult to describe. The fimbriata cultivars could appear to be giant carnations, but others resemble large camellias or roses. Their colours range from white, yellow, orange, pink and red, there is no blue. Whilst the most common single colour in our Begonia collection is pink, followed by orange, many cultivars such as the picotees have multiple colours on each petal. 

Our collection in Ballarat is propagated by basal cuttings taken in November to December. These cuttings will produce a mini tuber at the end of its first growing season and will be of display size standard in its second season. 

Of all the beautiful floral attributes Begonias exhibit, it’s often their scent that is most intriguing. Whilst most Begonias are non-scented, our collection contains just three scented varieties including upright varieties John Smith and Dawn Song and the cascade variety Yellow Sweetie. Their scent is anything but floral, often referred to as resembling tropical fruit juice or sweet citrus.

Can you find our scented Begonia within the Begonia Display in the Conservatory at the Ballarat Botanical Gardens?

Origins

As early as the 1890’s the Ballarat Botanical Gardens has featured a collection of tuberous begonias. Tubers were imported from the famous English nursery Blackmore and Langdon, now a fourth-generation family nursery, in 1901 entering our collection via the onsite nursery quarantine facility. 

Blackmore and Langdon once thought that 75 of their cultivars had been lost forever until a recent reconnection with the Ballarat Botanical Gardens revealed that they had been perpetuated in our collection here in Ballarat! These cultivars now consider rare, with some possibly not available anywhere else in the world.

Several Begonias including the TB Toop, TC Beaumont, Carol Wilkins, Sam Phillips, Kookaburra, City of Ballarat and Eureka , have been named after Ballarat as a result of our City’s longstanding connection with Begonias.  

Whilst Ballarat no longer imports Begonia tubers, around half our current collection still originates from Blackmore and Langdon. Our Begonia collection also contains cultivars from other breeders in England, as well as Scotland, Ireland, New Zealand, and the USA. Proudly, one third of our collection originates from Australian breeders. 

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