Thursday, December 10, 2015

Waiting and Watching . . .

We are smack dab in the middle of Advent.  Advent is a time in the Presbyterian church where we celebrate Christ's coming into the world.  It is a time of waiting and watching.  There are Advent candles to be lit, one each of the four Advent Sundays for Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love (in that order) and there is wonderful music to be sung. joy to be shared, and spirits to be lifted.

It's Advent and it's Samhain, and I find myself in a space where I am thinking about how - once again (or is it continually?) -  I have been led to make space in my life (both literally and figuratively).  As usual, I don't know what's coming next.  But in this season of waiting and watching, I have an eye out to maybe get a clue.  :-)

I've been waiting and watching on a number of things . . .

Every morning I watch out the window of the train as we roll over the Little Calumet river to see if the swans are there.  There are four or five of them.  I used to see them all the time, but it had been quite awhile - maybe even more than a year, since I'd seen them.  And then I saw them about a week ago!  I was so happy  :-)  And then this morning, I saw them in flight, just coming in for a landing on the water.

I've never seen them in flight before, and initially, from the angle I was at I thought they were gulls, but as the train was rolling along my vantage point changed and their long necks and massive wingspan made it clear that they were my swans.  I have no proprietary rights to them, I just think of them as mine.  :-)  I don't know what it is about swans . . . they do have great meaning in Celtic mythology, so that's probably why I like them.  Always have - one of my most treasured stuffed animals as a child was a very large (seriously large) swan.  I think it might have been a pajama bag.  Remember those?  :-)  I might have left this one for you before, but it's called Lightly Swims the Swan.  It's the very beautiful slow air at the beginning of this set.  This is a very good pipe band, the Greater Glasgow Police Pipe Band.


And, certainly I've been waiting on some violets to bloom to see if (1) they are blooming true to description, and (2) whether or not I like them enough to keep them.  Through my former podcast (All About African Violets), I sort of became the standard bearer for the late Pauline Bartholomew's advice to "Limit Your Collection."  It's very easy to get carried away with African violets and find yourself with far too many to care for well  :-)

I'm often asked how I make decisions on which violets to keep and which to let go. For established plants these are the questions I use to help me limit my collection:
  • How much time do you have?
  • How much space do you have?
  • Do you have duplicate plants? 
  • Do you have a lot of the same kind/type of plant?  (a/k/a:  How many blue semi-miniature trailers do you really need, Annie???)
  • If you have multiple plants of the same type and/or color – take a good look at them - Which one(s) do you like the best and which one(s) grow the best in your conditions?
  • Really look at the plants you have - Do any look wonky?  Are they thriving in your growing conditions or merely surviving?
Those will go a very long way to helping you pare down what you have.

The process is a little different for new-to-me plants.  When I have new-to-me plants I wait for them to do a first bloom before making any decisions - and, as mentioned, I've been watching and waiting for awhile now for some plants I picked up at National (in June!) to finally bloom.  Once they do, I have more decisions to make.
  • Is it blooming true to its registered or hybridizer's description?
  • Do I think it has show potential?  (I'm a show grower)
  • Do I like it?
Let's take a look . . .

This is Dancin' Trail (5565) 09/30/1983 (S. Sorano) Double red star. Dark green, pointed, glossy/red back. Semiminiature trailer.


As it's name would lead you to believe, it's a trailer - that's a violet with multiple crowns.  I've wanted to grow this plant forever, and I've attempted to grow it numerous times over the years without success, until this go.  And now that it's blooming, (true to its description) I don't like it very much at all.  It's one of the few red semi-miniature trailers, and I like a nice full double blossom as much as the next person, but without a strong peduncle and pedicels (that's the main stem and the little mini stems from the peduncle to the blossoms :-) ) to hold them up, they just flop over.  In addition, trailers are known to be very floriferous.  This is not.  That could be my growing conditions, but I'm generally not going to spend time on a plant that I have to baby and cajole along.

Take a look at Cajun's McKenna Trail (10423) 05/16/2011 (B. Thibodeaux) Double dark purple star. Medium green, heart-shaped, glossy. Semiminiature trailer

Although it needs grooming, it's virtually a snowball of strong, full double blossoms.  It also trails in more of a compact, snowball shape. This is a much better shape for my growing space.  You can already tell which of these plants will make the cut, can't you?  It's Cajun's McKenna Trail by a mile  :-)

Here's another - this is Red Mount Fuji (7812) 10/03/1992 (Horikoshi/Kawakami) Single chimera bright rose pansy/dark fuchsia-red stripe. Dark green, plain, pointed, quilted/red back. Standard.


I'd like to compare this one to another chimera I have (that's what you call a blossom with a stripe down the middle  :-) ) called Roulette (L. Egenites) Chimera pink pansy/purple stripe. Dark green. Standard.  However, I don't any photos of Roulette in bloom.

Still, we'll take Red Mount Fuji on its own merits and make a decision.  I'm not 100% sure that this is blooming as true as I would like.  The pansy is bright rose, but the stripe does not have much red in it - it's definitely more on the purple side to my eyes.  I like the size of the foliage at the moment and it will/should get larger once this is potted up out of the Solo cup it's currently growing in.  This one is registered, where Roulette is not, but I have sentimental attachment to RouletteRoulette, however, has been growing smaller and smaller in the past year, but it has pretty much perfectly symmetrical foliage - and when you go to show, the foliage is just as important as the blossoms.

The decision here, is to keep Red Mount Fuji and pot it on, repot Roulette, and then take a look at them both again down the road.

And so I wait and watch for many things both little and large, because, after all, it's Samhain . . .

A favorite carol from my childhood - played by my friend, Ted Yoder.



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