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Time to go wild with African violets

Once widely popular, these lovely flowers rather vanished from view, seen as a bit chintzy, but it doesn’t have to be this way…As someone who could never be accused of being in-step with fashion, I have always found the world of horticultural trends as perplexing as they are fascinating. In some ways they fulfil a valuable function, encouraging growers to experiment with new plants and techniques they hadn’t considered before. But the flip side is that we may overlook options that could otherwise bring us a huge amount of joy.Perhaps nowhere is this more the case than with the African violet (Saintpaulia sp), once a ubiquitous fixture of almost every coffee table and kitchen windowsill back in the 1980s and now a surprisingly rare sight. I guess they are considered a little twee today, with many bred for the maximum number of pastel petals, lacy frills and curious colour breaks. But they don’t have to be this way. There are loads of members of the same family that are wonderfully wild and natural looking, with not a hint of crocheted tea-cosy about them. Continue reading…

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