My granny grew the prettiest variety of African violets on her kitchen’s windowsill. I could never keep one alive. Until December 2020.
Dinner guests arrived bearing a beautiful basket filled with an arrangement of miniature perennials, the main attraction a light purple African violet.
As I placed the thoughtful gift on my kitchen table, I hoped the flowers would survive until Valentine’s Day.
To my glad surprise, the two red mums and African violet bloomed through Easter weekend. I watered them just enough with our drinking water to keep the soil damp until frost no longer appeared in the forecast.
Then I said a little prayer and transplanted the mums under a French lilac tree in a sunny spot in the backyard.
The small, green pot I found for the African violet fit perfectly on the windowsill above my kitchen sink between two orchids – one pink, and one yellow. There, facing southward, the colorful companions thrived in direct sunlight, and humidity from the kitchen faucet.
Now, Streptocarpus sect. Saintpaulia experts say the violet prefers indirect sunlight. Yet, velvety leaves kept sprouting and growing into another winter. Stems, buds, and blooms followed. I never thought of fertilizing the plant.
Thankfully, I did know to clip off the spent blooms to cheer on new growth. Pruning seems a steadfast principle for all living things.
African violet experts also say the plant blooms in spring and summer. Not my girl. She’s in full bloom again – just in time for tea with my two friends Anne and Marilyn on a chilly, drippy November day.
Marilyn stood before the sink and counted five stems in full bloom. “My African violets always die,” she sighed.
“This is the first to survive in my care,” I replied.
“I don’t even try,” Anne said.
“Well, this plant came in a gift basket two Decembers ago. And for some unknown reason it’s flourishing.”
“There’s still some buds. She could bloom for another month,” Marilyn said.
“That would be wonderful.”
“I think of Gramma whenever I see a beautiful African violet,” Marilyn mused.
Anne and I waited for her story.
“I was visiting Gramma and wandered off and found flowers so deep and intense an iridescent purple they begged my naughty little fingers to pick them. So I did and carried them to Gramma.”
“What did she do?” I asked.
“She took the flowers from my hands and laid them on a table. We left the room and later returned. I sobbed when I saw the wilted blooms.”
“Did your gramma say anything?” Anne asked.
“Yes. She gently explained I must leave her flowers bloom for everyone to enjoy. She was the most wonderful person in my life.”
Dear Reader, I’m thankful my granny kept her African violets out of my reach for everyone to enjoy. The most wonderful person in my life had plenty of experience with naughty little fingers.
Although my sisters and I banged her piano keys out of tune, we never touched her lovely African violets.
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