2011 marks the start of the 6th year since the founding of the KOLZ Begonia Research Center in 2006. Much has happened since Carrie Karegeannes started sending boxes of her research material to me, Michael Ludwig, in the Spring 2002. An inviting environment was created in my garage to house the materials and for bringing into friendly contact those interested in Begonias and other plants, KOLZ was born. Since those first boxes, additional materials have been received from Rudolf Ziesenhenne, Margaret Lee, Thelma O’Reilly, Skee (Rudolph, Jr.) & Virginia and Fred Ziesenhenne, Ruth Pease, June Rakestraw, Ed & Phyllis Bates.
2010 was a good year for the KOLZ Begonia Research Center. In January, I completed dry walling adding 200 more square feet to the center for housing the collection and meeting. This is the last expansion unless a second story is added to the garage. Currently, KOLZ = 600 sq. feet vs. garage = 100 sq. feet. Replacing the carpeting, so the entire center matched, meant all existing cases and files had to be moved to allow laying the carpet. Doing this in the winter meant that I had to do this half a room at a time, since all materials had to be kept inside out of the elements. LOTS of moving back and forth! All was ready though for the Margaret Lee members at the end of January 2010. At this meeting the branch voted to make another donation to KOLZ, after the vote, Thelma O'Reilly announced that Tim O'Reilly would match the branch's donation. Presentation of these donations were made at the March meeting at KOLZ.
In June, I traveled to speak at the Westchester Branch on Show preparation, a few days before the meeting; Skee (Rudolf) Ziesenhenne called and said he had more items to donate to KOLZ. I arrived at his home and he and Virginia greeted me. He showed me the many treasures that would soon find their home in San Diego they included Begonia art and collectibles from Rudy’s life time passion for Begonias. KOLZ now has a watercolor of Begonia involucrate on display, done by the late Alice M. Clark, one of only 5 of her paintings not housed at the Hunt Institute in Pennsylvania. Many other beautiful cloths, cards, paintings and other art, some dating back to the 14 century were included in the donation. While showing me their garden, they shared B. ‘Rudy’, B. 'Skeezar’s Blue Lake', B. 'Delores' and B.'Cachuma'. Before I left for the meeting, Skee and the Ziesenhenne Family Trust made a financial donation toward the KOLZ mission. The American Begonia Society’s set of DVDs with The Begonian were purchased and are available alongside the complete set of printed magazines, merging past and present. The inventory is being cataloged, as time permits, and had a set back because of a computer crash and a backup wasn’t available. (I’m making backups more frequently now!) A KOLZ dedicated computer is on the wish list along with better internet access in KOLZ.
This summer was full of visiting shows. One weekend in July, Saturday, I went to the Santa Barbara/Rudolf Ziesenhenne Branch meeting and Sunday, I visited Sherman Gardens, site of the show for 3 branches, Doug Frost, Whittier and Orange County. They had beautiful plants in a lovely lattice patio in the Garden. It was the first time these branches had had a show in a long time. The Garden has many begonias that Bobbie West, Doug Frost branch president, tends when she volunteers at the gardens every week. Many of these are Irene Nuss and Doug and Goldie Frost hybrids and plants. Another weekend, I judged and visited the Westchester Show that honored Julie Vanderwilt. Mike Flaherty won Best in Show.
Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the American Begonia Society’s convention in San Francisco. I heard it was wonderful and I wish I could have attended as those returning had many beautiful plants that they had purchased at the sale. The first weekend of October the San Diego branches, Mabel Corwin and Margaret Lee held their annual Show and Sale. It was full of interesting plants for show and sale. Each year this show gets better and larger. We had visitors from around the country and send them home with plants and told them of branches that may be near them.
A heartfelt thank you goes out to those making financial contributions to help KOLZ in its mission to preserve, house and share these treasures. The Margaret Lee Branch of the American Begonia Society and Skee & Virginia Ziesenhenne both repeated donations. First time donor Tim O’Reilly matched the Margaret Lee donation, As 2010 came to an end, Skee and Virginia sent me Christmas greetings and another donation. I thank them for their support allowing for the expansion and preservation of the collection. Many items were in folders that were falling apart and are in new binders, book and filing cases have been purchased. New tables and chairs are in the works for a more enjoyable meeting and research area. The Margaret Lee Branch meets at KOLZ several times during the year and it has also played host to the Exotic Plant Society, a plant group in the eastern part of San Diego County. Their donations also allow me to keep this website up and running.
My time limitations are the KOLZ Begonia Research Center limitations, I continue to pack seeds for the American Begonia Society’s Clayton M. Kelly Seed Fund, hold office in my two Branches, Margaret Lee and Mabel Corwin, maintain my begonia and plant collection, speak, and, well, work continues to get in the way. KOLZ continues to grow and expand its horizons. I’m still working at hosting seminar days here, encouraging more visits and use of its resources. If you’re in the area please contact me if you’d like to visit KOLZ and see and use the treasures here.
I’m committed to preserve and share these treasures. I hope I’m the stalwart steward that Carrie and Rudy wanted for their collections and life work. I pray that I may nurture and inspire like my mentors, Marge Lee and Mabel Corwin, who are departed but are still very much part of my life. Thank you to all that I have met and have influenced my life, especially members of the American Begonia Society that have been in ‘friendly contact’ for study and friendship. Finally, a special THANK YOU to Thelma O’Reilly, a dear friend and mentor who is sharing her materials with me and the Center, and has intoxicated me with her enthusiasm, love and dedication.