One of the great things about attending an African Violet convention is the opportunity to meet the hybridizers of the the plants we grow. I am so glad, like all of us, they love to talk about their ‘babies’.
Pat Hancock is no exception. What a delight to be assigned a work station by her sales stand. I could hear her discussions. What a bubbling fountain of knowledge she is.
If I irritated her with my shameless eavesdropping (and probably staring), she never indicated she felt I was a pest. Pat graciously answered mine and others questions, even the ones that I recognized as coming from rank ‘newbies’
The Buckeye Series is one beautiful group of plants. Pat Hancock continues to hybridize Buckeyes for better foliage and large, exciting blossoms that almost defy description, the Buckeye Series is used by other hybrizers as a parent in their own crosses.
Her plants are mostly large standards; a person with limited space like I have, has to limit his numbers of the Buckeye violets. That is one hard job, take my word for it!
Some great “trivia” I picked up, as I eaves dropped. She was sharing these points with hobbyist, I hope she does not mind that I share with you.
- All Buckeyes have leaf variegation and are hybridzed for outstanding foliage.
- A memory aid – name each plant from a single seed pod with the same first letter. Take a look at “First Class”. There are seven Buckeye listed beginning with the letter “A”; did not try to count the “B” or “C”; just say “oh, man. Wow!” when it sinks in how many varieties came from a single pod.
- Each plant has a known pedigree, just like her poodles used to have; Pat talks about each plant –her baby with a distinct personality and characteristics. She shares knowledge of its children and grandchildren with as much pride as she exhibits when talking about her (human) great grand daughter – eyes sparkle.
- How do you decide which seedlings to save? Laughingly she answers: A secret Marie Burns taught me—if it has three leaves, save it!
- Speaking of leaves: systematically take off three old leaves monthly. This keeps a constant growth of new leaves from which flowers grow.
- Groom for symmetry from the beginning. Can you imagine picking a plant off the shelf as you get ready for a show, confident you have a winner? Overheard Pat say, she spends very little extra time on show plants.
- Feeding. Fish emulsion will help keep the green that all plants (even champion variegated) must have to grow and bloom.
Buckeyes are beautifully variegated large, prize winning, standards. I am going to devote some of my very limited shelf space to several. They will be pleasant reminders of the great 2012 DAVS convention and the privilege I had to learn from the master.
A special invitation from Pat Hancock
If you want to really learn about African Violets, you need to join AVSA ; you will find an application at Buckeyeviolets.com, receive 10 free buckeye leaves when you use the preprinted membership application on my order form.
Postscript: I was thrilled to have this blog published in the July/Aug 2012 African Violet Magazine (AVSA) page 50