Saturday, November 7, 2015

Limit Your Collection . . .

I'm going to be spending my day today at the Fall Meeting of the Illinois African Violet Society.  It should be interesting.  I will be doing my best to not come home with any plants, and I think it's going to be a lot easier to do this time because I am reminding myself right now that I have chosen to take back my power in this season of Samhain.

Sometimes taking back your power means that you have to let some stuff go, and as much as I love my African violets, I have been working this year to truly "limit my collection."  I speak about this with great regularity on my podcast because African violets are so beautiful that it's very, very easy to all of a sudden have way too many.  The late Pauline Barthomew's book, Growing to Show was where I learned about this concept, and it seems I have become the standard bearer for it now.

For those of you who don't know, I produce a weekly video podcast called All About African Violets.  I started it on July 1, 2012.  It ran for 18 months and then I took a break for about six months (I produced some special episodes during that time).  I started weekly production again on May 24, 2015.  It's been a labor of love from the beginning.  So has my involvement with the Illinois Society, the National Society, the Missouri Valley Council, as well as with my own plant stands.

For me, taking back my power generally means that I have to begin to say no.  This is not easy for me, but as I am taking stock of my life and how it's operating at the moment, it's brilliantly clear that I'm going to have to start saying no with much greater regularity.  And the first thing that I'm going to need to do, is say no to too many plants.  If you know me in person, you're likely snickering now, but I'm serious this time. In fact, I took a tentative step in this area yesterday morning when I tossed out the cuttings of an old Pothos vine.  I have enough houseplants in the sunroom.  I didn't need another one.

Yes, you read that correctly - in addition to all the violets I have, there are 10 houseplants and one orchid in the sunroom.  I also have four of what are called "other" gesneriads.  African violets are members of the gesneriad family and some of their "cousins," which are also gesneriads, are quite fun to grow.  I have a Columnea "Firebird," a Petrocosmea kerrii (a species), and two Streptocarpus plants.

Earlier this year I was down to between 25-30 violets and it was still a little challenging to take care of everything.  Many plants had suffered neglect.  I decided that coming back from prolonged neglect (these beautiful plants are quite resilient!) would be a great way to pick the podcast back up after the break I had taken.  And so I did.  I went to the National Convention at the end of May, and you pretty much can't help but come home with plantlets and leaves . . . before I knew it, my collection was back up to around 70+ varieties.  I have been culling them ever since.

Although this sounds a little counter-productive, it's not unusual.  I often try new varieties, vintage varieties, and species plants that I have not grown before just to see how they do for me.  In any case, I never plan to keep them all.  :-)

As I mentioned in my Field Report on November 2nd, for most of my African violet growing career, 50 was my number.  I knew I could grow 50 varieties well.  I successfully got my collection down to 49 and I could not understand why I was still having such a terrible time keeping up with them.

Surprise! 50 is not my number any longer.  When 50 was my number my life was very different.  I was married then, but at the moment I'm single.  That means that there is no one else to pick up my slack.  If something has to get done around here - laundry, groceries, cooking, etc. - there's only me.  Hard to admit, but I can't do it all and do it all well, and so rather than feeling constantly out of control and exhausted, I'm taking back my power and truly limiting my collection. At the moment, I'm feeling like 30 maximum sounds doable, but if I get there and it's not, I have no problem dropping the number a little further.

Last night I pulled quite a few plants from the shelves to take to the meeting today, and went from 49 varieties down to 35.  This is AWESOME!!  One went to its Great Reward, and the rest are in this box, ready to go to the silent auction today.

This is going to be a process, and it's not an easy one for me, although my podcast viewers would probably beg to differ.  They see me let plants go to their Great Reward all the time.  I think they think I'm heartless.

Believe it or not, however, I do have a sort of strategy about some of what I'm growing, but it's fluid, so things are changing all the time.  In addition, I donated my 2' x 4' four-shelf plant stand to the Garfield Park Conservatory earlier this year so I don't have as much shelf space as I used to.  That has majorly affected my growing strategy:  many of the plants in that box will eventually be really large and I just don't have the space any longer.  There are also a mini and some semis in there because I'm more of a standard grower.  In any case, In my quest to get down to around 30 varieties of African violet sooner rather than later, last night was a huge step in the right direction. Yay Me!!!  :-D

If you'd like to see the method I use to get as far as I have, watch Episode 86 - Limit Your Collection of my podcast. It's about half an hour long and the info I share is good if you're looking to limit your collection.  Any collection  ;-)


Michelle said...

I don't have any collections of anything, although I could definitely be tempted to collect Japanese maples.

A :-) said...

I like the one I have :-)

I've had various collections of things over the years - including a pretty substantial yarn/fiber stash :-D