I am especially fond of violets with variegated foliage like the Cajun's series. The double blooms pack an extra punch.
Here's another beguiling bloomer from the Cajun's series. This pretty-in-pink variety is called "Cajun's Dixie Pride".
One of the fun things about attending the national convention is that you get to see new cultivars like 'Carnival Confetti'. This bloom type is called a "fantasy" because of its fanciful speckles. I wish more of these interesting varieties were available in ordinary garden centers, but you usually have to belong to a violet club to find them.
I was able to purchase this new vivid green bloomer by Optimara (these violets are commonly sold in grocery stores here in the Midwest, but unfortunately, they don't carry the more interesting varieties like these). They were going for a whopping $22 at the show, so they weren't cheap.
I'm not a huge fan of red but I do have one red-blooming violet called 'Heinz's Sentimental'. I love the striking variegated foliage paired with the richness of the red bloom. One of the violet vendors was selling this spectacular specimen at the show.
'Picasso' is an old favorite of mine that I've been growing for six years. Whoever grew this one at the show had certainly done a marvelous job.
My pictures can't do this blooming behemoth justice! It was quite a sight. This particular specimen of 'Rob's Boolaroo' was probably 23 inches wide and garnered 2nd best in show.
In the past, I haven't had a lot of luck with trailers, but for some reason one of the trailers I've been growing for the past two years is flourishing once again. It's not really in much bloom but the leaves are looking so much better than they were.
Violets weren't the only stars of the show. Other members of the gesneriad family were also in display, including many varieties of streptocarpus. 'Moscow Lady' is quite showy in magenta, don't you think? Streptocarpus or as we call them, "streps" are easy to grow and can be quite vigorous. They're larger than violets so you need more growing space to accommodate them.
I thought this strep ('Dale's Tiger Swallowtail') was aptly named because its markings really do resemble a butterfly.
Another aptly named strep— 'DS Meteor Shower'...
I was especially looking forward to seeing the episcias. These beauties, prized more for their foliage than blooms, can be finicky growers, especially the pink varieties like 'Pink Smoke'. As a result, many grow them in terrariums to increase the humidity.
Another member of the gesneriad family is the Kohleria known for their showy little blooms. This one is called 'Bud's Showgirl'.
I was smitten with the pale pink peach 'Bud's Little Pig'—so much so that I sent a note to the grower asking if she might have a starter I could buy. Luckily, she did and I will go pick it up in July.
And last but not least, I must share this darling pig terrarium garden. If any of you has one of these glass pig containers and is interested in selling it, please contact me at my email me button under my profile pic. I'd love to start my own terrarium garden in one of these cute containers.
Interested in learning how to successfully grow violets? Just email me by clicking the Email Me button under my profile pic or leave a comment and I'd be glad to send you the official African violet brochure that tells you how to best care for them. I've been growing violets for 20 years now and I can honestly say they are worth the time and effort that goes into them. It's a blessing to have your own indoor garden year-round. I can't tell you what a joy it is to see their cheerful blooms in the midst of an Iowa winter!