Miniature violet hunt begins…


My thumbs were all green since I was little. I tried to grow every plant I saw on someone’s windowsill. Naturally, African Violets were among those plants. I had basic purple, white, blue and pink violets, and has never imagined there’s more.

I don’t remember when I discovered the world of AV cultivars, but when I did, I was unstoppable. Internet was non-existent yet, so I mail-ordered catalogues in winter, leaves in spring. All my pocket money and earnings from occasional jobs were well spent.

The violet fever became worse with the Internet. I also found some fellow addicts, and we placed our leaves orders together to save on delivery and shared resulting plantlets afterwards.

African Violets are like hamsters – they breed. You put down a leaf and end up with five plants. So eventually I ran out of shelf space. And I also discovered miniature violets. What a great solution to all my problems!

It was working well for a few years. My collection even survived my first post-graduate job in another city. I arrived there with a backpack full of clothes and a box of my favourite miniatures.

Everything changed when I started a family and also started moving to other cities. Small rentals, small baby. Plant by plant, my collection died. So when we moved to New Zealand a couple of years ago, I had no green friends to leave behind.

During the first visit to a local Bunnings, I saw some Optimara African Violets and decided – why not? I swore to my partner that I wouldn’t collect hundreds of them again. I mean, we’ve been there, done that, right? Just a couple of plants – as a home design thing.

Maybe 20 violets later I decided to look for some miniatures. After all, minis are my all-time favourites (and you can squeeze much more of them on a shelf).

That’s where the reality of New Zealand plants importing rules hit me – there was no easy and reasonably-priced way to order all that minis from abroad. And there were no minis on sale on garden centres. And just a handful of them in collections of other AV enthusiasts.

First, came denial – that’s not true, there MUST be a loophole!
Then anger came – this is so unfair, violets shouldn’t be quarantined!
At bargaining stage, I tried to convince myself that several thousands of dollars are a fair price to pay for my little hobby.
When the depression hit, I gave up all my hopes to have miniature violets collection.
And, finally, acceptance came. And I saw the loophole.

It’s ok to order African Violets seeds to New Zealand from abroad. You just need to declare them properly. And luckily, there is a supplier who ships globally. So I placed an order…

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