After falling for the genus as a schoolboy, begonia specialist Graham Milne went on to develop and breed one of the largest collections of tuberous begonias in New Zealand.
When Graham Milne's grandmother gave him a begonia for his ninth birthday, it's unlikely she knew what she'd started. The boy was mesmerised, and it wasn't long before the future begonia breeder began growing them himself. "As a young fella, I used to save up five-shilling postal notes and post them to begonia breeders Blackmore & Langdon's in England, and they'd send me back a tuber."
Although Graham's boyhood affection for begonias never waned, he admits to spending some time moonlighting with orchids and carnations before settling down with the genus for good.
He's been growing begonias continuously since the mid-1980s. He and partner Raewyn Lennon's native bush-clad home on Auckland's North Shore houses one of the largest private collections of tuberous begonias in the country as well as a large number of foliage begonias (all begonias have flowers but foliage begonias are grown for their unusual leaf shapes and colourful patterns).