Saturday, September 28, 2013

My Finds at Kingwood Center


In this, my third installment of the adventure at the Ohio African Violet Show and Sale at Kingwood Center, I will show you the plants I purchased. Yes, purchased. Remember, it is a show and SALE. I would have to say the sale room is the most popular area of the show. At this particular show, the commercial growers are there, including Violet Barn, Lyndon Lyon, Violet Gallery, Cape Cod Violetry, Pat Hancock with her Buckeye hybrids, and Fancy Bloomers.

'Dolores Sugar Candy'

'Irish Flirt'
The sheer amount of plants to choose from is unfathomable. There are thousands of plants to tempt you. It makes the decision of what to buy very hard. I am drawn to the pink and green varieties, as you can see. I had a list of ones I wanted, but even though I didn't find most of the ones I was looking for, I found plenty to make me happy. I only bought a few, hoping I could keep them looking floriferous and healthy. I will confess that I threw out almost all of my violets a few weeks ago. They were looking awful, and I decided to start over. I think  I had too many to take care of  them properly. By only having a few, hopefully the time I do have for them will be enough. Unhappy, unhealthy plants are depressing. Only take on what you can take care of. 

'Halo's Aglitter'

I bought a semi-miniature, a miniature, and the rest were standards. I seem to do well with the minis and so am drawn to them. They don't take up as much room, as well.

'Rob's Boondoggle'

As beautiful as these flowers are, the first thing I do when I bring them home, is cut off all the blossoms. I also isolate them from all my other violets and plants for at least 6 weeks. Even though these plants are from very reputable growers, you never know what unexpected "surprises" may be lurking about. You want to make sure there are no thrips, mealybugs, or any other unwanted problems. By keeping them isolated, you can watch for any of these things and deal with the problem right away before it spreads. You will be happy you did.

'Mountain Snowcap'

Begonia 'Baby Dress'

Violet Barn brings quite a few miniature houseplants as well as violets. I couldn't resist this begonia called 'Baby Dress'. It is a small begonia, only getting 6" tall. I love begonias and had to add this to my collection.
If you can get to this show next year, I would recommend it. Not only is it a great shopping trip, but the gardens are beautiful, the lectures are educational, and the show is fabulous. Seeing all those plants grown to perfection, spurs me on to try to get mine to look as good.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Ohio African Violet Show and Sale

'Buckeye Too Tempting'

In my last post, I talked about the design portion of the Ohio African violet show. My favorite part of the show, though, is the horticulture portion of the show where all the violets and other gesneriads are displayed and judged. These plants are well grown and beautiful;  the best of the best. These are plants grown to perfection by people who know what they are doing and do it very well. 

'Buckeye Cranberry Sparkler'

Not only are there amazing plants, there are programs given by famous African violet growers and hybridizers. The first four pictures are of Buckeye hybrids. They are hybridized by Pat Hancock, who taught one of the seminars. It was about growing plants from a leaf to a show plant. She talked about the fact that all facets of growing the plant is controlled by the person growing it. The more attention paid to them, the better off the plants will look. The most important part of the plant is the crown and the roots. If you don't have good roots, you won't have a good crown. A new idea I learned from Pat is that when potting a violet, put about 1 1/2 inches of a perlite/vermiculite mix at the bottom of the pot before putting soil on top and potting the violet. Violets roots prefer lots of air in their soil and by putting the vermiculite and perlite at the bottom, it allows more air to get to the roots. Violets have shallow root systems, so this system is a great way to cultivate these plants. I'm going to try it with the plants I bought this last weekend. Pat's philosophy is that starting a plant from a leaf is easier to raise because you are cultivating it in the conditions it will be growing in permanently. Buying a plant means you have to take on a plant that has been growing in the conditions that someone else has. It then has to acclimate itself to your conditions. It really does make sense. 
Buckeye 'Irresistible'

'Buckeye Seductress'

 She also reminded us that  variegated plants such as the one to the right will have more variegation if grown in cooler conditions. If a variegated plant becomes green, it is growing in conditions that are too warm.

'The Alps'

This plant on the left is called 'The Alps' and is a chimera. Chimeras are special violets that can't be propagated by leaves, only by suckers. As you can see, the flowers are striped. These plants are always more costly, because they cannot be propagated from leaves.


The Yukako, also a chimera,  is my favorite violet as you can probably ascertain from my blog, facebook, and  twitter account.

'Newtown Grape Suzette'
The violet above was huge, probably at least 15" or more across. It was beautiful!

Optimara 'Evergrace'
Optimara 'Evergrace' is one of the many space violets hybridized by Optimara. Seeds were sent into space, originally meant to be there for 11 months. They ended up being in space for 6 years. The experiment was meant to see what would happen to the seeds after being exposed to cosmic radiation and the lack of gravity. The outcome were plants that are large and bloom almost continually.

'Rob's Antique Rose'
'Mac's Misty Meadow'

'Petite Blarney'

Not only does the show have fabulous African violets, it also has other amazing gesneriads, such as episcias, columneas, streptocarpus, and achimenes. 

Espicia 'Country Copper'

Steptocarpus 'Raydar's Ruthie'

Episcia 'Karlyn'

Columnea herthae

There are also other classes, such as African violets in unusual or decorative containers.

How cute is this little violet in an antique container?

There are also dish gardens,.....

natural gardens,.......

and terrariums, all having African violets incorporated in the design.

As you can see, there was lots to see, do, and that doesn't even include the sales room, where you could buy all the fabulous plants you saw in the show. Commercial growers were there, including, Lyndon Lyon, The Violet Barn, Violet Gallery, Cape Cod Violetry, and and Pat Hancock with her Buckeye hybrids. Not to mention that this all took place at Kingwood Center, an exceptional public garden. I'll write more about that in my next post. 
Next year, make a trip to Mansfield, Ohio for the Ohio African Violet Show and sale. You won't be disappointed. ...... Bring your checkbook!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Violets Catching Beatle Mania

 Yesterday, I went to Kingwood Center to attend the Ohio African Violet Show and Sale. This year the show theme was Violets Catching Beatle Mania. I'll tell you about the sale later.

I'm going to show you some of the flower arrangements from the judged flower show. The theme of the flower show is represented in the design division. Of course, every arrangement has to use African violets.

This design (left) had to include an entire African violet, the root ball being wrapped in plastic. How awesome is this guitar?

This arrangement also has an entire African violet included in the design.

Yellow Submarine

How fitting that the underwater flower arrangements are called Yellow Submarine.

September In The Rain

An Aglaonema as well as a Japanese maple branch was used in this arrangement. I was appalled that someone could cut a houseplant up for a flower arrangement, but the designer told me the plant had rotted at the soil level and so these stems are being rooted in water. I felt better.

Twist and Shout

September In The Rain

This arrangement also used houseplants in the design, September In The Rain. A golden Schefflera, the umbrella plant (how apropos) and a Ficus were used. I could never be a designer, because I could NOT cut up my houseplants!

This is just the design part of the show. There is also the horticulture part of the show which includes all the African violets, terrariums, dish gardens, and other gesneriads. I don't want to make this too long, so I will show you the African violets tomorrow and tell you what I learned at the seminars from the professional growers. (And I will show you the violets I purchased.)

Thursday, September 19, 2013

National Indoor Plant Week

This week is National Indoor Plant Week. This is every week  for me. I love houseplants and have a jungle in my house, so I'm involved with them every day. I enjoy talking to people about houseplants and I think everyone should have a few in their home. I sent a plant to my daughter's office for her desk this week. It has been proven that plants in the work place add considerably to the productivity of the workers. It will improve her mood and the people around her and give them some fresh oxygen.
Both of my daughters moved out on their own in the last year, and even after complaining about the jungle atmosphere here, they both have plants in their apartments. I don't think they would feel at home without some as they've been surrounded by them since birth. They've both done a good job of keeping them alive and thriving. I tell them its in their blood. 

In the car on the way to the office

On her desk

Houseplants are unique and there is one for everyone and for every home. There are ones for low light, medium, and high light. The key is finding the one that fits the conditions you have in your home. Don't buy a cactus or succulent if you only have a north window. If you have a south or west window with tons of sun, don't buy a spathiphyllum lily or a fern. Try to match the plant to the light you have.

Tillandsias are unique, trendy plants.

I grew up with houseplants and learned to love them mostly from my Grandma, but also my Mom. She had a fern, which I have a piece of and have had for 28 years. It was given to her at her bridal shower in 1957 from my Great-Grandma. I also have a plant I took to college with me, so lets just say I've had it for more than 28 years. My Grandma always had violets in bloom and leaves in jars of water  to make more. She had ferns, amaryllis, bromeliads, and a really large croton.

Grandma's violets

My fern passed down from my Great-Grandma.

Houseplants have been touted as being therapy, and I truly believe it. My favorite thing to do is re-pot houseplants. It is relaxing, and it makes me extremely happy. (My husband wishes less plants would make me happy.....)

During this National Indoor Plant Week go out and buy a house plant and see if it doesn't make you happy. And remember, it is going to clean your air and give you oxygen as well. Its a win, win situation!

Friday, September 6, 2013

A Long Overdue Book Review

I have every houseplant book ever printed, I'm pretty sure. My husband IS sure and is also sure the ceiling in our house is going to fall in. Can that happen?..... Anyway, when I saw that a new houseplant book was coming out, I was very excited. Because I work at our family garden center, my time has not been my own, but now that we've slowed down a bit, I can read again.

Indoor Plant Decor by Kylee Baumlee and Jenny Peterson is the book I am talking about. This book is not your usual how-to-raise-a-houseplant book. It is a guide to matching houseplants to your style of decorating. My style is houseplants EVERYWHERE!
Back to the book. So, first you need to choose one of the 8 styles such as World Beat or Peaceful Zen, and then you will find the plants they feel are best for that style. I am definitely not Classic Elegance. No one would ever walk in my house and say, "Wow! How elegant." Just never going to happen. It's more like "Wow! It's a jungle in here!" But really, I am a mix of Cheap Chic, Vintage Vibe, and Modern Eclectic. I have McCoy pottery, flamingos, macrame hangers, and rustic barn wood plant stands. It's definitely eclectic. I've never gone with the latest style, or one style, but most people do, so find your style and follow their directions for some plants that are in keeping with that style. They even have a decor for the man in your life.
Along with good direction for plant style, there is a DIY project with every chapter. I love the cork planters and the Kokedama plant balls. Every chapter also has a helpful box called Do This, Not That, which has some great tips.
Yes, they admit it. They kill houseplants. So do I. Its going to happen. Wrong light, too much or too little water, pests, diseases, pets..etc., etc. It doesn't mean you should give up trying to grow houseplants. Just try a different plant. They give you lists of easy plants, moderate care plants, and divas that need all your attention. Pick a plant that fits your time constraints as well as matching the skill you have with plants. The only negative I saw in the book is the small part where they tell you there are nice fake plants out there for black thumbs. Please don't use fake plants.... You don't have to have a green thumb -just a want to keep something green and alive in your home. There is a plant for you and for your decor, no matter what it may be or how many styles there are.  So if you need help with picking a decorating style and plants to go with it, this book is for you.

It Can Get Worse

Well, I thought I had seen it all. Yet, when I went to the IGC (Independent Garden Center) show a couple weeks ago, the plant torture was alive and well, and had actually gotten worse.

Painted succulents
These succulents above are painted on the outside, but these new cactus below are worse than painted. They are injected with color and then given growth regulators to slow down the the growth so they have a "longer shelf life". They will eventually grow out but the "in" color will probably have changed by then, so in the trash it can go.  Can you believe it?! The paint flaked off the others, so now they are injecting the poor plants with color. "Its really for the decorators," they told me. Decorators, get some fake plants and paint them. It will last longer and then "no plants will have been hurt in the making of this decorated room."

Color injected cacti

Painted Hoya kerrii

And then there are these beauties. Hoya kerrii leaves painted with flowers. Look! There are even poinsettias for the holidays. How lovely.

Let's not support these crimes against plants by buying these.  Please!