Soon thereafter, my grandmother Dixie Williams and Andrea Worrell (The Franklinhouse) began a local club called the Fox Valley African Violet Society, based in Naperville, Illinois. Our club grew by leaps and bounds, and even included such notable charter members as Joe and Janice Bruns. We were introduced to respected area growers who visited us to share their knowledge and tips, along with plenty of leaves from their favorite plants. Thanks to our club, the wonderful experienced friends we met and my membership in the AVSA, my own knowledge grew along with my ever-expanding collection.
Whether it was because of my first few successful violets or because I grew in an apartment with limited space, I fell quite in love with the small ones. Their cute little size and large, numerous blooms were addictive, and soon I hungered for all I could house and afford. My growing space went from a little windowsill to a lighted bookcase shelf crowded with cups of leaves. Over time, I began dabbling in standards, but I never had quite the same passion or patience with them. I suppose in a way, the small ones chose me.
Through our club, I was introduced to the world of showing African violets. A few months before my first local show, I set up a little shelf with three semi-miniatures and followed a strict schedule for their care. When show day came, only one plant looked good enough to compete with the big dogs. It was Rob's Whippoorwill, and I carefully packed and carried that plant to the show and entered it in the Novice class. I was overwhelmed by all the beautiful plants in the room. Each one looked more perfect than the one before it. So imagine my surprise when I won not only a blue ribbon but a Best in Class. It helped that I didn't have much competition! But from then on, I was hooked by the challenge of growing something worthy of showcasing.
After I was married, we made a major decision to move 700 miles away and start anew. Now, we call southern Arkansas home. It's a far cry from the bustle of Chicago, and I miss the camaraderie of the club, and of course all my violet friends. Shows are few and far between here, and the nearest affiliate club is two hours away. Still, the internet has a way of bringing us together, regardless of distance. It is my hope that Three Oak Violets will help to bridge that gap for me and play its part in keeping me connected to the violet community in this new and challenging way.