Our mother was a late bloomer as a gardener, as she only became interested in her late 40's. Saintpaulias became her great love, her interest was piqued after she was given six as a gift, by her cousin, and at first found them profoundly difficult to grow. Eventually her collection grew to encompass several greenhouses, not to mention her house, which always had the most beautiful display in a wrought iron stand next to the sofa. Her bathroom was usually festooned in little brown bottles all around the tub containing the latest treasured leaves she was trying to strike. She spent many happy hours in those greenhouses and when one didn't know where to find her one could almost guarantee it would be there… talking to her little friends and nurturing and loving them.
There were some tragedies along the way too, especially one time when she read about something interesting and new and decided to experiment – almost eliminating the whole collection.
Ms Mather with her daughter,
Vivien and Caroline.
One time, we went on safari to Samburu Game Reserve which is renowned for its large elephant population. Mum was overjoyed to find an abundant supply of large, succulent elephant droppings and carefully filled up two sacks (brought along for this specific purpose) which we loaded into the back of her station wagon. On the way home we picked up two young American hitchhikers, and gave them a ride back to Nairobi. From the driver's mirror I could see them sitting in the back looking at each other and wrinkling their noses – obviously wondering what that awful aroma was coming from just behind their seats!
Silva was a great communicator and had ”Violet friends” all over the world, some of whom visited. She was passionate about her “babies” but certainly never set out to become an authority on the subject. She would be overwhelmed to know that she has been honored in this way.
Vivien Mather Eakin