Information for the amateur gardener

Begonia Flamboyant July 30

The story of Begonia Flamboyant started in 1902 with the introduction of a semi double flowering canary yellow Begonia named Royal Renaissance Helen Harmes.

 Followed in 1911 with RR Flamboyant, bright red with yellow centre, then finally in 1932 the threesome was completed with RR Richard Galle, beautiful semi double apricot flowers.

Very strangely this exquisite Begonia almost died out completely, possibly due to the introduction of the non stop variety which has become very popular.
Fortunately growers have taken an interest in reintroducing this variety of Begonia. For information and availability of the Royal Renaissance group of Begonias here is a link which I think you may find interesting, Vale Royal Horticultural ltd

I remember how taken we were when first we spotted it in a neighbours garden, I just had to find out what it was. This was in the days before we started to enter our garden in the city’s gardens in bloom competition. The gardener seemed a little reluctant to tell us the variety, I don’t know why but anyway we did eventually trace it to Flamboyant. We managed to purchase forty of these tubers from Ben Reids Garden centre, this must have been about fifteen years ago. The tubers grow very large and in a few years we were able to divide them and by the time we got to the year 2010 we had 250 Flamboyant tubers.

This amazing Begonia smothered with red blooms about the size of a fifty pence piece has been the most important find for us regards our Summer bedding display.

By the end of last year we decided to cut back a bit on our Summer bedding, and on February of this year I gave away two hundred of these beauties. Our garden will still be highlighted with them and I probably will be trying to get my hands on a few of the new varieties being produced.

Hardiness – Treat as a half hardy annual, start the tubers into growth in the greenhouse early March. Bed them out first week in June.

Flamboyant tubers are available in Aberdeen, Feb/early April from Ben Reid Garden Centre.

I have been trying to get tubers of the variety Richard Galle, without success, If you have any information please get in touch.

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In spite of the cool wet Summer which we have been having in Aberdeen here is some of the Roses which Have been flowering in our garden in the past five weeks or so.

Rosa Mundi in the round garden

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Blush Noisette Climbing up an old Prunus Amanogawa.

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A red climbing Rose in the round garden, unknown variety clinging to life with only one flower, it is being smothered with another vigorous specimen.

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Felicia in the secret garden, unbelievable fragrance, Myras favourite.

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Flower carpet Amber, introduced to the main border of the back garden last year.

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Rose Adam Messerich in the main border of the back garden.

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Jacques Cartier, in a container.

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An unknown red rambler in the woodland area.

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Finally an unknown old fashioned rose in the round garden

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© 2011 – 2013, Alistair. All rights reserved.


  1. Charles Carson says:

    Lovely show of Begonia Flamboyant ! I had some old plants here in Co.Antrim which have fallen prey to vine weevil, so I am looking for a source to replace them? I’d welcome any suggestions.
    Looking forward to hearing from you.
    Charles Carson

    • Alistair says:

      Thats a pity Charles, I have been giving away so many of them in the past few months, no more to give away now though. Our local garden nursery has them Ben Reid & Sons.

  2. Donna says:

    Your garden has many of what would be annuals here. The begonias would die off in our winters, but they return for you. I guess your Dusty Miller comes back too?

  3. Bridget says:

    Your plants are always so perfect and pristine. Looove that Rosa Mundi. Fabulous Begonias, they are one of my Mother’s faves, they don’t do for me.

  4. Larry says:

    Your garden never ceases to amaze! Beautiful… Larry

  5. martin says:

    Beautiful roses Alistair. And what a successful Begonia – it looks so attractive around the edge of your lawn.

  6. Carolyn says:

    I don’t do much with annuals but that begonia is a beauty. You have so many gorgeous roses. I often wonder when I read your posts how you fit everything in your garden.

    • Alistair says:

      Its true Carolyn, we have all these plants but our planting style does not always show them off to their best, you know a single plant here and there. We do have about a third of an acre which does give space for quite a lot.

  7. Janet says:

    Lovely photos Alistair. Have you tried the National Begonia Society for the variety Richard Galle? If anyone knows they will.

  8. Holley says:

    I really like the look of that begonia. How nice that you are spreading this unusual flower to others. Your roses look very happy. They are each very pretty.

  9. cat davidson says:

    Stunning begonia Alistair, looks especially great with the variegated ivy in the basket.
    I have just compiled a small ( But hopefully set to expand) list of great Scottish gardening blogs, and have included you in the list – I hope this is okay.
    If you know of any more I have not yet included, please do drop me a comment. Thank you, best wishes, Cat @ Abriachan

  10. b-a-g says:

    Alistair – I’m imagining borders around Aberdeen filled with the offspring of your flamboyant begonias. I hope the recipients of your 200 plants are maintaining your high standards.
    Lovely roses – my favourite to look at is Blush Noisette. Though like Myra, fragrance of a rose takes priority for me.

  11. What a wonderful selection of roses Alistair, and they all look really healthy too.

  12. It must be quite a bit of work to lift, clean and store 250 tubers! I can see why you do it though. They are a spectacular red-orange! (On a side note I see that you have one of those cone-shaped hanging baskets. I got a pair on sale. Sadly, when I got them home my husband declared them to be ugly. I am glad someone else likes them besides me!) You have a lovely collection of roses. The pinks are always my favourites.

  13. I don’t know how you do it Alistair, but every plant, every flower, every leaf in your garden always looks perfect. Beautiful!

    I particularly like the Blush Noisette!

  14. Masha says:

    The begonia is wonderful, really flamboyant! It lights up your garden. I never see begonias like this here – they just hate our dry heat…

    Your roses are so lovely, you have a wonderful collection. Jacques Cartier is amazing, mine never looks so great: it sets too many buds in tight clusters, and they seldom open properly… Does yours ever have this problem?

    • Alistair says:

      Masha I know exactly what you mean regarding Jacques Cartier. I actually lifted it from the border because of this. I planted it in a container last Autumn, and this year it has performed to its best.

  15. andrea says:

    Hi Alistair, they really stand up for its name flamboyant! If it is begonia, why does it have tubers? Your roses are flamboyant too esp that variegated one, soooo beautiful.

    • Alistair says:

      Hi Andrea,most of the Begonias which we grow here in the UK produce tubers. In our climate they have to be lifted and stored over Winter. We do also grow the semperflorens begonia which is an annual plant.

  16. catmint says:

    your garden is looking amazing alastair, and the bright red begonia is special. The ones I am familiar with are a muddier red colour. They are annuals here too but they don’t naturalize, needing work and care. The old fashioned roses are my favourites.

  17. I love begonias Alistair and flamboyant is an understatement. My tuberous tubers have never replicated themselves and rather stunned that you had so many to give away. Fecund might be a better name
    p.s rosa mundi is prettiest in the world ;)

    • Alistair says:

      Laura, fecund! what a great word. Our Begonia rather than replicating with abundant offspring, more a case of the tubers growing so large we were able to divide them, again and again.

  18. Orkneyflowers says:

    Well, now I can see how all your hard work has paid off, well done and a curious lovely story too! Always informative and fun alistair. Your weather sounds like ours very brrish, roses look great! Thesis almost finished, I’ll be able to keep a closer look at your gorgeous garden, saw a lovely hydragea petiolaris up here in Orkney and was reminded of your post……cheers, Fay

  19. Fergus Cumming says:

    Hi there,

    I’m currently lifting my Flamboyant tubers and was wondering whether to leave foliage on to die back naturally & feed tuber (as you do with daffodils). Or else just lift & clean?
    Grateful for advice.

    • Alistair says:

      Cut back the foliage just leave an inch or so of the stems. Lift the tubers clean off most of the soil, you cant be feeding once they are lifted. Place tubers in seed trays and leave in the greenhouse to dry off, once they are almost dry remove some more of the loose soil the remaining part of the stems will just fall away. When they are completely dry wrap each tuber in newspaper place them in a cardboard box and pop them in your unheated loft.. Start them off in growth again in the greenhouse in March.

  20. David Stevenson says:

    Congratulations. Fantastic web-site, have reall enjoyed it.
    I grow a lot of flamboyants and find the tubers start to get a little tired after 5 years or so.
    The last three years I have taken cuttings in June, rooting them in the greenhouse in one inch modules,in a unheated propogator with fleece shading. Mist spraying every day.
    After a month they are well rooted. I put them in a 4 compartment plant tray and leave them to grow like mad in the greenhouse for another month.
    Come August they sit out on my veg plot (after the onions are lifted) . By the end of October I cut back the foliage and take them out of the packs. The little tubers are about the size of the top of your finger.
    After storing in the winter they make fantastic plants the following spring . The tubers put on about three to four times their size in a season.
    Best wishes from the Isle of Man

    • Alistair says:

      David, that’s the news which I have been waiting to hear, (do cuttings develop in to tubers in the first year suitable for over Wintering.) Another method which I am interested in is ,In early Spring, take a teaspoon and scoop out the growing shoot and then pot them up. I must say though in the 15yrs which we have had our tubers they have grown larger and larger and I simply slice through them making four tubers out of the one. I think it is just reaching the time when I should consider your method.

  21. jim kochevar says:

    I have been planning on ordering tubers this year from Blackmore and Langdon, but their stock is quite limited. Do you know of anyone who ships begonia tubers to the US?
    We have been looking for a strong red, and a red and white picotee.

    Here in the US, begonia tubers are not plentiful, as most people are not interested in growing them. I stumbled upon the Scottish Begonia Society web site and was amazed at the flowers being grown throughout the country.

    • Alistair says:

      Hello Jim, at the moment I cant think of anyone who ships to the US. If anything come up I will get in touch.

      • jim kochevar says:

        Alistair, thanks very much. I was doubtful that anyone would be shipping from Scotland, but I thought it was worth a try. There is not
        much of a selection here in the states. I have no idea what the problem is. I fear that most people feel that begonias are too difficult to grow.

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