Does anyone have some nice places to purchase begonias around the Ft Myers area ( 50 mile radius).
I will be visiting the area and would like to do some "shopping" for different ones.
If you are ever in the Tampa Bay area, I am located appx 50 mins NW of downtown Tampa in New Port Richey. I grow an assortment of 200 varieties all year. I just finished the last of my four summer sales. They were GREAT. I teach during the year so appts are necessary. Here are some I grow. Go to Planet Begonia on Blogspot.
I don't know of any, but I'm not familiar with the Naples/Ft. Myers area. It's across the state and probably a 2 1/2 hour drive from Ft. Myers, but Palm Hammock Orchid Estate in Miami is worth the trip--loads of begonias, including many unusual ones.
PHOE is a long drive and the prices are a bit on the steep side ($15 for a six inch pot and I think it was $10 for a four inch pot). I was there in May (fifth visit) with no one in sight (no customers and no helpers). It was storming to high heavens so there wasn't much to do other than stay under cover. Once the rain broke for a few minutes one helper came up to the front so I had her hold my camera while I went browsing. I doubt I will ever go there again unless there is a convention in Miami. Here is a photo of the rain coming down while I was there.
Should also mention that the road that runs from Naples to Miami (I-75) aka Alligator Alley has very little between - maybe a few small towns. Kind of interesting zipping along the interstate and watching all the gators slithering into the canals. 123 miles between these two cities. Add another 40 miles + between Ft. Myers and Naples.
Make sure you go to Sanibel and Captiva Islands while you are in the Ft. Myers area - very nice nature preserve with warm Gulf Coast beaches. They do have gators there as well (or they did on the public beach in a fenced in area).
My second trip to deep FL (Key West) had lots of roadside nurseries on the keys where I stopped and got four very large hanging baskets of begonias but that was 12 years ago. Ask at the hotel if anyone knows of a good nursery in the area - more than likely they will have some begonias.
It's true, Palm Hammock has seen better days. The owner suffered a stroke several years ago and he's the one who knew exactly where and what everything was. What shame, he was turning out so many good hybrids. Still lots of good plants there but many of them have no labels, and the staff for the most part can't identify them. Very frustrating and sad. I've hit a few other nurseries & garden centers in southeastern Florida but none of them had anywhere near the selection of begonias.
You are correct on that John. Tim did turn out some wonderful hybrids but also would change names or forget names before his stroke (I observed that one year I was there while talking to him). With so many begonias (and other plants) under his care, it would be an easy thing to do. I can't remember half of what I've got in my own collection.
PHOE does have a very large selection of begonias to choose from but also a tad expensive. Last year I bought 22 plants (a lot of six inch pots) and the bill was close to $300. OUCH. This year I bought 16 four inch pots and 2 three inch pots - still close to $200.
His newest hybrids were up front which is where I bought from this year. When I went to Harmony the next day, I was told by Charles J. that some of the names had been changed such as Unique is what PHOE calls Daddy's Coffee. Butterscotch at Harmony is called Buttered Candy at PHOE. When I bought Deco Twirl from PHOE many years ago, it is shown as Deco Drive on their website. GRRR!
It is a great place to visit to get the feel of "old" Florida (at least for me). Very serene, very well grown plants but also some areas are filled with algae so be careful where you step. Do take your camera and stay for a spell.
I should mention to get the Sunpass mini too. Last year I went to Miami and got a bill for $9 a few weeks after my visit (6 for tolls and 3 for a fine). There are no toll plazas when you get into Miami. This year I bought a mini Sunpass and after a little time on the phone to get it all registered I breezed through all the tolls - well worth it.