Lesson One
     This first lesson will be both simple and complex.  We will briefly review the many aspects of growing African violets.  Then we begin thinking and planning for the following lessons.
     The Reading Assignments for this lesson were chosen carefully.  The African Violet School Time articles by Kent and Joyce Stork (African Violet Magazine) introduce and briefly explain many of the cultural and 'enjoyment' aspects of the African violet hobby.
     The articles are not meant to intimidate beginners or force advanced growers to change their methods.  The articles are also to point out one very important principle:
    Have you ever  tried this old fashioned school exercise?   School children are asked to walk from the school house door all the way home without once looking at their feet... they are instructed to keep their eyes on the horizon, and to observe three things to describe to the class later.  Class the next day was usually very lively.  The children described how the first part of their walk homeward was filled with stumbles and skinned knees, as they kept their eyes off the path at their feet and studied birds, trees, and people so that they could describe them later. It had been hard work to keep from thinking of their feet.  Soon, however, the walking became easier and they found more and more things on the roadside and among the people passing by.  All the children had learned the valuable lesson that there are new things to discover when we begin to take our minds and eyes off the familiar.
    I think it is a trait of human nature to be content with where we are... to find some place in life where we feel  comfortable, and in control.  It is hard to for some people to begin a new hobby or craft, because it looks like so much work to master.  They have the idea that they must 'learn it all'.  Once they reach a certain skill level where they can do something well, they stay at that level --- afraid to move on and make mistakes. 
     The purpose of this lesson is to encourage everyone, beginner or advanced, to look past where you are, and to discover new ways to enjoy your African violets.  In other words:  stop looking at where you are, what you are doing correctly with your violets, and to look outward, at something new.
     Do not take this African violet hobby too seriously. There are many ways to grow and enjoy these plants.  You do not have to learn it all today.  You do not even have to learn everything.  Maybe 'growing to show' is not your goal --- it is okay to have a 'wild' plant on your windowsill.  Maybe a new retirement apartment does not have space for more than one plant stand --- it is okay to downsize your collection and to stop disbudding plants for show entries.
     This AV School is the time to throw out any ideas you may have about what you most enjoy about African violets and to remember the school's motto: "Discovering Endless Enjoyment of African Violets". It is time to begin fresh.
     So just what do I mean by 'outward' and 'new'?  There is truth to the old saying:  "Everything new is old."  With modern knowledge in botany and horticulture, there are no real mysteries to discover about how plants work.  Milestones that seemed so huge to past AV growers, such as yellow violets and double blossoms,  either have become reality or are near.  The computer age has brought easy and detailed access to information and help. 
      'New' can simply be 'NEW TO YOU'.  Do not dismiss any thing until you have tried it.  Maybe it is uninteresting to you because you do not understand it.
      'Outward' is simply an open mind.  'Outward' is an attitude... an attitude of excitement, questioning ---  and a willingness to DO. Never stand still.
      Back to the Stork articles.  They are intended to inspire.  When you read them, think of how their methods are different than yours.  Did they mention things new to you?  Where there any terms you did not understand?  Beginning growers may not have realized there were so many parts that make up this hobby.  Advanced growers will say:  I've tried that --- and may agree or disagree. 
      The articles contain so very many possibilities in so very few words.  Keep the articles to read again at the close of this school and you will find they say so much more than you now realize!
      The other articles are to stimulate your thinking.... compare, question, and plan ahead for an African violet experiment that will an assignment in a later lesson.
       Class has begun!
"We have learned much and yet we have  only just begun. One person's lifetime is not enough. Let us say we have only removed the veneer to expose the hidden potential in the progress of African violets.

....Having been a tiny part of this amazing horticultural happening, I for one, would not trade places with anyone or anything for the many memorable experiences Frank and I have shared in the wonderful world of African violets."

~~ Anne Tinari
Our African Violet Heritage
  • First:  both beginner students and advanced students will take Quiz #1
  • Second:  read Lesson One Reading Assignments (below).
  • Third:  click on a Lesson Link below.
  • Fourth:  read the lesson, and work on the homework!
Have fun!

General Knowledge -- Quiz #1
Beginner Lesson One       Advanced Lesson One

So which am I:  Beginner or Advanced?

You are not sure just which lesson you should study?
Read them both!
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