You can hardly tell from looking at the picture of these three violets that two of them are very old. They came to me from an estate, neglected, dry, and twisted. They had been in the same small four inch pots on small saucers for so many years that their bare stems had grown down to the table. Of course, as a hobbyist who starts violets regularly, I immediately took leaves from each and started new ones. My first thought had been to throw the old ones away as soon as the new ones were growing well. What beauty I almost missed.
Thank God I had a brainstorm instead. Why not create a setting that used their aged gnarled shape in a way that could not be done with young violets. Take advantage of the unique beauty that they had. So I used a high wheeled wagon type metal planter and transplanted the two old violets into the ends so that their stems gently curled over the lip of the planter, down past the wheels toward the table. Then I planted a young violet in the center. After more faithful watering and a few drops of liquid fertilizer, look what we have. If you peer closely on the right, you can see just a glimpse of one long stem. The stem on the left is equally long but is completely covered.
What a parable this is for the way our society should treat aging and other such situations. When people are no longer youthful, when they begin to show age, they are pushed aside in favor of a younger version. Instead of looking for a way to use the health they have, to capitalize on the strengths of age, our society often looks for a way to shelve seniors outside the mainstream. What a loss. What potential beauty wasted; both for society which loses their skill, wisdom, and perspective; and for the seniors who still need a place to bloom, to be useful, helpful and fulfilled. Sure, they may need to be teamed with younger bodies and even younger minds, but the resulting team may be capable of some things that a young team alone would not be. Just try making a planter full like this with all young violets! This has reminded me to creatively use the health each team member has, no matter the age. The result will be more beautiful for all of us.