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Credit: Winston J. Goretsky

‘Baby Brian’ is used to special treatment – bright lights and regular drinks – so it came as no surprise that there was little bumping or jostling during its journey to Baton Rouge, LA, earlier this year. West Vancouver violet and gesneriad enthusiast Bill Price made sure the mini-trailer violet was pampered during the trip to the African Violet Society of America’s national show – and his care and attention to detail paid off when Saintpaulia ‘Baby Brian’ scooped up the prestigious Best-in-Show award and won the Best Trailer category. Hybridized by P. Tracey, and grown from a cutting bought at a show in Chicago three years ago, S. ‘Baby Brian’ is one of nearly 1,000 violets and gesneriads Bill grows under fluorescent lights in his home. A true plant lover, he also grows orchids and maintains an outdoor garden. Fluorescent light for 12 hours a day (place the tubes 25 centimetres above the plants) encourages year-round flowering, says Bill. Twice-a-week watering, regular turning and liquid fertilizer diluted to quarter strength and used weekly are the secrets to growing floriferous plants. While he also advises regular repotting in a light soil mix, Bill notes that violets like to be a little cramped, and a 10-centimetre pot is usually adequate unless you are preparing plants for show. Variegated foliage and ruffled edges are among the trends attracting interest from the hybridizers, however Bill says the top attention-getter at the moment is the quest to breed a plant with absolutely stable yellow blooms. Violet and gesneriad growers have an active association in Vancouver. See these websites for further information: www3.telus.net/vavgs/ and www.avsc.ca