I have never been able to grow African Violets.
Or, rather, I should say that I have never been able to keep them alive.
Once a year I walk by shelves of these lovely, colorful plants at the grocery store, bring one or two home, and within a month they are dead.
This year, staying true to a futile tradition, I picked out a sweet purple and white variety and placed it in my kitchen window hoping it would like the southern exposure.
Within a couple of weeks, its blooms dropped off, and I resigned myself to another failure.
But then, a week later, I noticed, within its velvet leaves, buds.
I turned the plant to the sun, made sure it had adequate moisture to draw into its roots, and praised it like a fool.
We've had good luck with that exposure, and the long garden bed that borders our exterior southern wall.
Bearded irises bloom there, along with variegated hostas, tulips, daffodils, and clematis, which has overgrown its original trellis, and reached out for new territory. Next year, we will have to provide it with a second.
When we first moved into the house, our neighbors said, "Plant what you love most along that wall. Everything thrives there." And to prove it, they supplied a few of the iris bulbs from their garden.
Along the way, we've had to thin out a few plants, and remove a blue spruce that had tripled in size and blocked part of our driveway.
We were sure there was something magical about that wall, beyond the sunlight.
And then one year, one of our sewer lines blocked up and had to be rodded out.
Since the only access to that particular line is in our basement, the men dragged their equipment downstairs and got to work. After a few minutes, I heard the machine noise stop, and one of the men yell, "Lady! Could you come down here?"
He didn't look happy. Neither did his assistant. They were wiping their brows and shaking their heads. "We just hit dirt."
"Ummmm," I said, "That's not good, is it?"
"No. It means the line's broken."
Indeed. A seweroscopy, conducted the next day, revealed that the line had broken under our patio and was dumping raw sewage...where?
Into the garden bed on the south wall.
We've continued to joke about our fertile ground. There's no telling when the line broke, how long it was "nourishing" our plants. But the truth is, years after the line was repaired, everything I plant there grows...like mad.
I could say this is due to whatever remains of the constant effluence, but that doesn't explain this new small miracle, which never had any contact with it.....
Perhaps it is the sun, after all.