Prior to the Oct. 27 meeting of the Hillsboro Garden Club, a special installation of officers was held. Incoming officers installed were president Nancy Baldwin, vice president Rose Marie Cowdrey, secretary Carol Gorby and treasurer Ruth Anna Duff. Outgoing president Nancy Sonner was presented with a gift from the club consisting of several items for her collection of fairy gardens in appreciation for her leadership and guidance during the past two years.
President Nancy Baldwin began her term by calling the meeting to order and leading members in the Pledge of Allegiance and singing of “God Bless America.” Seventeen members answered to roll call.
Rose Marie Cowdrey’s arrangement for October consisted of a metal container by Todd Cordray in the shape reminiscent of a quarter slice of the moon. American Bittersweet was then artfully attached and encircled the “moon,” creating a ‘Harvest Impression’, accented by a small orange pumpkin. Simple and stunning.
Committee reports followed with the main points of business being a review of estimates to replace railings on Floral Hall entrance doors, preparations begun for the illuminated Holiday Parade entry, dates set to decorate a tree at Highland House Museum as well as to assist in decorating Deer Creek State Park Lodge in December, and changes and updates proposed for the club by-laws. Larry Moore reported attending the Design Workshop on Oriental Designs this month. While these designs appear to be very simple, using only five to seven stems and flowers, it requires much thought and precise placement within the arrangement to capture the essence of the design. Another oriental design workshop is planned in June 2016.
Two members, Ed Davis and Leona Gabriel, are recovering from illness and surgery. We send them our best wishes for a speedy recovery and hope they are back with the group very soon.
Highlight of the evening proved to be Teresa Cudkowicz’s program on African Violets. Teresa shared her love of growing and showing African Violets. (Saintpaulia ionantha). As a new bride, she was looking for an interesting activity to help her meet people and fill her time. When circumstances brought Teresa and African Violets together, a bond was formed that led to growing, showing and propagating African Violets, one that continues to this day. At times, she has had as many as 400 violets growing throughout her home. Recently downsizing, she now only grows about 60.
Her program started with a history lesson on how many of today’s exotic plants were discovered by avid collectors on plant-gathering expeditions in newly explored lands. A German, Baron Walter Von St. Paul, found African Violets growing in the high reaches of tropical East Africa late in the 19th century. A previously unknown genus, the Latin name became Saintpaulia after the baron. From Germany, it was soon introduced around the civilized world and finally became the must-have specimen by any plant collector worth his salt. Today, they are readily obtainable and enjoyed by nearly every indoor gardener at one time or another.
Displaying some of her favorites, she explained the different types and characteristics of the plant and shared her knowledge of caring for them. Typically, African Violets have dark green, fuzzy leaves with slightly reddish undersides and produce flowers ranging from violet to white, pink, variegated and ruffled. Most are low-growing and upright, but there are trailing varieties as well. Sizes range from large to miniature, and even tiny micro-minis can be found. These violets like 6585 degree warmth, 8-10 hours of light a day and a humid environment (think florescent lights and placed on a tray of pebbles with water), prefer watering from the bottom, liquid fertilizer diluted with rain water and regular removal of the older bottom leaves and any new sucker plants that may appear along the stem. If the stem becomes long and ‘naked’ due to leaf removal, it needs to be repotted. Remove it from the pot, cut off the bottom third of the root area, re-pot the shortened plant and fill with dampened potting soil to slightly below the pot’s new rim.
Growing new plants from a leaf can be easily done, but it does take patience. Plants can be started in water or directly in moist soil. In water, she suggests snipping healthy leaf with a longer stem, covering the top of a small container with plastic or aluminum foil, fill it with enough water so the stem will be submerged, poke a hole for the stem and insert the leaf. She has found they root better if the rooting area is kept dark, so cover the container bottom or place inside another decorative container. Check often and maintain the water level. To start from a leaf in soil, use a leaf with a short stem (one inch) and submerge the stem and the bottom one-third of the leaf in damp vermiculite. Now sit back and wait two to four weeks for roots and small plants to form (the patience part), then plant in damp potting soil and enjoy watching it grow.
To prepare them for shows, Teresa regularly rotates the pots to keep the leaves growing in a perfect rosette, removes any old flower stems, dusts each leaf (with a small paint brush), tells it how beautiful it is along with giving it a good pep talk (yes, like the rest of us gardeners, she talks to her plants!), and usually brings home the blue ribbon. Those of us who have faced her in competitions can readily attest to that fact! There is so much more to learn about growing African Violets but that is just enough information to get you hooked … like the rest of us.
Following the meeting, a variety of pies, ice cream, nuts and candy corn, fresh apple cider and iced tea were served, compliments of hostesses Jennifer West and Carol Gorby.
Submitted by Carol Gorby, secretary of the Hillsboro Garden Club.