African violets: for my father
My father gardened the way most husbands gardened in the 60s.
He mowed the lawn.
He planted shrubs along the foundation and pachysandra everywhere else. There were some roses across the back fence, but I think that was a status symbol.
But when he retired, my father became quite the plant guy. He planted a couple of tomato plants for my mother. (He hated fresh tomatoes, for some reason. It is an aversion both my children share.)
And he nurtured African violets in the dining room window. And he had the most amazing success with them! He propogated them as easily as if he had a truly green thumb. He gave them away to friends and still had enough to fill the window sill and the sideboard and a couple of hanging plant stands.
Photos courtesy of Violet Gallery
I have this memory of visiting my parents and seeing my father at the dining room window, fussing over his African violets.
I have killed more houseplants than I like to admit to, African violets among them. I am pretty sure I overwater, but it could just be my Karma to do better with plants outdoors.
But when I was at the Philadelphia Flower Show shopping in the Marketplace, I stumbled on the Violet Gallery, with dozens of different African violet seedlings. I thought of my father, and a lump came to my throat.
I purchased two-- Maverick's Faded Jeans, a blue variety, and Rebel's Two Cents, a pink one. And I bought special planters for them. Porous china cups sit inside another china cup with holes for adding water. It looks almost impossible to overwater. And there is no danger of getting water on the leaves.
My two new African violets sit happily near my kitchen window, and I am waiting patiently for them to bloom.
Every morning I see them, and I think of my father.