29 June 2010

So Much Beauty (Growing) in Dirt

I have a lot of hobbies. Like, a lot of hobbies. My dad used to say that I lose interest too easily, but I think it would have been more accurate to say that I gain interest too easily. When I see something that intrigues me, I want to know all about. 'Ravenous' would be an apt word to describe my manner when I'm exploring or researching a new topic that excites me. 

Miniature African Violet "Rob's Squeeze Toy"

For a long time now...twenty or so years at this point (file under: "things you realise that make you suddenly feel old"), one of those interests has been flower gardening. Living, as I do, in a Brooklyn apartment with no dirtspace at my convenience, this has come to mean "container flower gardening". Fortunately for all involved, I rather enjoy growing several kinds of plants that are quite content to grow in a little plastic pot, one of them being African Violets.

African Violet species Saintpaulia ionantha

Who knows why we are drawn to the things that we are. For me, I think these little plants charmed me with their near-endless profusion of flowers that freaking sparkle--not in a dumb Twilight-ey way--when you look at them up close. If you've never noticed this before, I highly recommend that you check for yourself next time you see African Violets in a reasonably well-lit room (& some varieties 'sparkle' more than others). Regardless of where it began, though, I was more than smitten when I stumbled upon the photo archives of the African Violet Society of America. It wasn't long before I was hunting down sources to buy young plants & leaves of my favorite varieties.

Miniature African Violet "Rob's Squeeze Toy"

The pics I've shared here are all (coincidentally, I didn't plan this, I swears it!) plants that I grew from leaf cuttings. Some of my absolute favorites are not in bloom at the moment, but that just gives me a reason to make another post like this down the road, no?  ;o)  

Miniature African Violet "Honey Blue Ace"

Like the African Violets we're all likely familiar with, these are mostly hybrids of different Saintpaulia sp. varieties that have been in cultivation for decades. The one exception in my collection is Saintaulia ionantha, which I've always loved as an example of tropes like "less is more", "classic beauty" & other things that mean that something doesn't have to be super complicated in order to be interesting & beautiful.

African Violet "Funambule"

I hope you've enjoyed this mini-tour of what's happening on my plant rack right now. I promise, there will be talk of knitting again soon. ;o)

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