In 1998, during a chance conversation with Michael O’Dea at a show in the auditorium of Brisbane Botanic Gardens at Mt Coot-tha, Peter Henderson mentioned that his wife, Enid Henderson, was fairly keen on begonias, and that he had suggested to her on more than one occasion that she should get a few begonia enthusiasts together to form a club dealing exclusively with begonias.
Michael’s reply was along the lines of “Why don’t we get it going?”. And so it eventuated that Peter compiled a lists of as many begonia growers as he could find, and Michael found and booked a suitable hall (at 52 Merthyr Road, New Farm). Michael also arranged for Enid Henderson, Patricia O’Dea (Michael’s late wife) and Linda Laker to put on a display of begonias at the Royal Horticultural Society of Queensland (RHSQ) Show in October 1988 to generate interest.
Peter issued the invitations on 29 September 1988 for the first meeting on Saturday 15 October. Twenty two keen people turned up. Michael very capably chaired the meeting and led the meeting through all the decisions to be made to set up the society. All the official positions were filled, with Michael being elected as the first president. The general theme and direction of the society were agreed upon.
As the news spread, membership increased rapidly in the first year, during which the excellent newsletter was commenced and the first annual show was held. By November 1991, the Queensland Begonia Society had 120 members, some of whom traveled from as far away as Gympie, Toowoomba, Ipswich and other outer areas to attend monthly meetings.
Although it might be said that Michael and Peter initiated the move to form the society, it really was the willingness of the people who took all the various tasks which breathed life into the fledgling society.
The society has had a wonderful start, and with the continued willingness of members to be involved and so share the workload, together with the maintenance of the friendly atmosphere that exists, it is certain that the society will continue to grow and benefit all begonia lovers throughout Queensland, and hopefully, also begonia enthusiasts from other parts of Australia and the world.