It is a straight-forward case of neglect --- deliberate abuse. There is no need for debate or a trial; the facts are simple. I have no honorable defense, because I have been given many warnings. I had ample time to change my actions. I have also been previously convicted on similar charges, which made my behavior even harder to understand.
It began in October of 2005 when I began to make plans for a new house. Fall work on the ranch is at it's busiest. At first, I simply put off watering my African violets until the weekends only.
In November, we had a chance to go on several 'totally carefree' camping trips. Before we left on the first trip, I put all my plants under domes and shut off the plant lights. Actually, that was a good plan to 'get by' for a few weeks, and everything would have been fine if I had returned my violet care to normal when the hunting season was over! But I totally ignored the plants for nearly three months!
In February of 2006, dead plants were scattered in every tray. While the majority were alive, they were in such poor shape that I felt real shame when a visitor would ask "Where are your violets?". I was so horrified at my neglect and not wanting to deal with the huge task of repairing the damage, I consoled myself by giving each plant a little drip of water and saying: "Revive them slowly before repotting.". In reality, that was just an excuse and what I was really doing was still ignoring them.
Late February, I sorted out all the duplicate plants and the varieties I knew I didn't HAVE to keep. In a matter of minutes, I did the ONE THING TO BE PROUD OF, and the number of plants in my house went from over 200 to 50. (I've always clung to '50' as my magic number -- as the number of plants I can care for properly.)
In April, all but 4 plants (2 were set aside as entries for our Virtual Show and 2 were left as control plants, see below) were cut back to about 3 leaves in each center, and put into 2" pots. There were about a dozen or so that looked pretty nice, and these were not pruned so severely. They were allowed about 6 leaves, received new pots and a bit of fresh soil. My plant shelves were cleaned and the lights finally turned on. It was nearly a full month before I saw new growth, but only 5 of the crowns died.
The end of June is the end of 3 months of PROPER CARE, and I have been rewarded with a spurt of new, fresh growth. Every plant has been transplanted at least once, and about half of them have buds. At first, they fit under two lights... now I have them spread out under 4 lights and my living room window.
The streps seem to not only have survived but thrived under their domes in the past year!
The two plants I set aside as Virtual Violet Show entries look okay, considering what they have had to deal with! They are the two blooming plants in the tray below.
I kept two duplicate plants 'as is'. I did not repot, I did not do anything to them, except give them the same renewed care as the plants I 'repaired'. They have not improved and look the same. So this photo gives you an idea of where my violets started three months ago.
So my punishment for my crime has been a mild one: I lost five varieties that I wanted to keep. But I DID 'cull' my collection, even if it was by neglect. But that is maybe something I should not mention as being to my credit???!!! (insert embarrassed face here!)
So: who is my Probation Officer? Have I modified my behavior? I wonder if I have learned from this experience!!?
My rehabilitation should not include browsing Ebay violet auctions, or opening Violet Voice messages with beautiful violet photos! My friends should not be other addicts with the same habits and faults as my own!
In early May, I purchased a 50-leaf Ebay auction, and found a leaf auction of Sybil, one of my 'most wanted' varieties. I simply 'had' to have a Ma's and a Rob's for our VV projects, plus the Buckeye leaves, and so it goes!!
I think the lesson to be learned here is "Grow as many violets as is fun to care for!".
In the words of Laurie from her blog: "the golden rule: Grow only the number you have time to care for." Humm, Alana wrote a great article: Keeping Your Collection manageable . Fred is always telling us how he refuses most new plants, in order to keep the ones he has. And many others tell of 'Violet Burnout' when they could not 'sent bounds to their desires'.
There is much truth and a not-so-subtle warning in *Count your plants, multiply by 15 equals?, a review of an article by Rich Follett.
Time will tell if I have learned something from this experience, or if all violets in my house are doomed to this annual cycle of neglect, then abuse. While I have a 'reasonable' number of plants at this moment, I also have the potential for many, many... TOO MANY by fall... If all my leaves sprout and my re-started crowns continue to grow and thrive. The only way out of this is to make sure I give away and sell as many of my extras, duplicates, and any variety that I don't absolutely love.
Can I do it? I will let you know this fall!