This presented several problems. First and foremost while violets and pansies could be made to work as live flowers on a wedding cake, they fail as “cut” flowers; they don’t have sturdy stems. Their lack of rigid stems presented problems for being used in a bouquet. We had a great florist who swore that she could over come that issue (and she did). The larger issue was where you get volumes of both flowers in Vermont at the end of the summer. That was the biggest challenge.
The problem of getting the flowers was actually overcome by a family friend who was a master gardener. In May of that year he put out a raised bed pansy garden just for J’s wedding plans. This 20’ x 20 ‘raised bed got premier soil treatment, elaborate fertilizing, shading from intense summer sun, and careful watering; I think he even came out and sang to the pansies every night. On the morning of the wedding the florist came to his garden 2 hours before the wedding to insure that the flowers were fresh in her bouquet. She was greeted by a pansy jungle. These flowers were profuse and rich looking.
But what of the violets? They are very delicate things, violets; they are not as able to be managed as pansies. So our friend decided to use African Violets instead. He had some favorites in his own houseplant collection; so starting in January he embarked on a massive propagation program. He planted the cuttings in six window boxes that he kept under grow lights in his basement. He applied his magic touch to the violets over that winter, thru the spring and into the summer. When August came the window boxes overflowed with masses of thick dark leaves and glorious purple blossoms.
So J had her flowers and the cake and the bouquet were everything she wanted. When we came back from our honeymoon we packed up the car to leave for our new life together. Just before we left that day, August 16, 1973 who should drive up her parent’s driveway but Carl (the master gardener). In his backseat was one of the window boxes of violets to give to us.
So when we left that day in our back seat was our first child …we called her Violet . . .for obvious reasons. The window box was magnificent; it held the most beautiful blossoming African Violet plants you could imagine. It contained 12 massive plants in a cacophony of bloom.
We moved that window box to various parts of New York State in the first three years of our life together and it was magnificent. We moved it up to Northern Maine several years later. We gave away our entire house plant collection for that long move to that cold place but we took Violet with us. In Maine the window box got broken up into 6 or 8 individual pots. After a few years, they came to Vermont and New Hampshire with us.
Kids were added, dogs and all the hysteria of a growing family. Poor Violet got neglected at times, sometimes she dried out and a few times the cold got her . . .but she always persisted. Despite the rough treatment that she got over the years she hung on and came thru it; she even made feeble attempts to blossom regardless of the outrages that were dealt her. Some years she came thru like a champ others not so great.
Our kids got older and life got a little less crazy, as a result Violet got a little more attention. But her first generations were getting older and worn. When it came time to move back to New York ten years ago she was in really rough shape. J and I committed that we had been though so much with her that we owed it to her to get her blossoming again. So in the months before the move she got repropogated and the TLC she deserved. I brought her with me in my car when I came down 6 months ahead of the rest of the family.
In my little studio apartment she was very good company. I really got to know her really well then. During that 6 month period she was my responsibility. I watered her and repotted her and gave her violet food and I watched. And she grew and blossomed in my little apartment with a determination that was amazing. That was ten years ago.
Each one of our kids has one of Violet’s children and they are all over NY and the US.
Since then there have been all kinds of crises, challenges and ups and downs. But dependable, persistent Violet endures; she continues in her quiet way to do that she was raised to do. And so she does it.
She watches over us from a plant stand in our bedroom every winter. In the summer she gets moved down to the desk in the corner of the kitchen. And every spring she blesses us with beautiful flowers that remind us of that day in 1973.
So what have I learned from our amazing little Violet? This little plant that has been with us for 37 years?
I have learned that as time goes on you may not be as glorious as you once were but you are still capable of great beauty and moving displays of color.
I have learned that life isn’t always kind and those who focus on doing what they need to do to survive ….will.
I have learned that life is a series of ups and downs; you need to bear through the downs with the knowledge that there is an up just around the corner and that up will be memorable.
I have learned that if people care about you that caring is there even if they don’t show it every day, and some day they will come through for you, usually when you need it the most.
And just as these are the daughters, granddaughters, great granddaughters of the original Violet, some of the goodness that I have is continued by my own kids just as it was with hers. They are a reflection of me.
And someday when I am no longer here just as the original Violet isn’t, people can look at my kids and celebrate, just as I celebrate the beauty of Violet thru her children now.
This has been an intense week. J and my anniversary is around the corner. As we sat talking over coffee on the couch this morning, talking about the situation we find ourselves in I looked over my shoulder and said . . . you know we’ll be ok. Look at Violet here . . .she has been through the wringer and she has prevailed so will we. With that J burst into tears. Bad move Tenyn.
So as we sat there, I tried to console J. with the thought that we are going to get thru what the future has planned for us and we will blossom again. We may not be a s glorious as we were 37 years ago but it will be respectable. Violet has done it so can we.
Violet sat there in her wisdom and watched us and without words she told me I was right. She is a wise little flower.
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