Arcadia Hosts Horticulture Show
photo by Kate Wolf
B.J. Ohme, son of Bruce and Helen Ohme of Arcadia had his gardening skills showcased at the Annual Horticulture Show held in Arcadia this past weekend. His specialty, and true passion, is focused on African Violets.
By Kate Wolf
On Sat. and Sun., Sept. 17-18, the Arcadia Community Center was bustling with activity as friends, family members, avid gardeners and visitors gathered to enjoy the annual Horticulture Show to showcase the skills of local gardening specialist and experienced landscaper, B.J. Ohme. The center was filled with a beautiful array of cut flowers of every variety, perfect garden produce, tempting homemade jellies, and delicious baked goods (Yes, he can cook too!). His mother, Helen, gladly chipped in to help with the homemade bread and various supportive cousins were kept constantly busy assisting customers. But the real stars of the show were the vast display of African Violets, many of them extremely rare species, all perfectly labeled, which Ohme grows and has made his specialty. These beauties are his true passion.
It’s kind of amazing to watch this man, who is built like a Nebraska linebacker, handle these incredibly delicate flowers with such a light and gentle touch. They obviously thrive under his experienced care. Each beautiful variety literally glows, the foliage a flawless green velvet without a brown spot or imperfection to be seen.
Ohme, age 45, is the son of Bruce and Helen Ohme, born and raised in Arcadia, a local boy who made good and returned three years ago to the hometown he has always loved. At a very early age, he demonstrated a natural affinity for growing things. By the time he was seven years old, he would ride his bike over to the home of Lil Ritz, who was well known for her skill with African Violets.
“She’d give me one and, of course, I’d end up killing it,” Ohme recalled. “Then she’d give me another one and that’s how I learned. She was my inspiration.”
Another mentor, Kent Stork, a Fremont florist who specialized in hybridization of African Violets, introduced Ohme to the National Society of African Violets. He also became a member of the regional Missouri Valley African Violet Society. In 1995, while still in college, he joined the Lincoln Society of African Violets and that’s when it happened. Everything clicked. B.J. Ohme had found his “people”….others who shared his intense passion for growing and raising African Violets. From there he started travelling all over the country to various shows with more than a thousand plants to show and sell.
Many people shy away from African Violets because they think they are too difficult to grow.
“They are probably over-watering them,” Ohme commented. “Or they’re in too big of a pot. They also need indirect light, ideally from an east facing window. I use a grow-light myself. It’s just more consistent.”
Ohme lived in Lincoln for 20 years working with a gardening and landscaping business. And then, one day, he reflected on his future.
“I’m at the age where I can’t waste time anymore,” he admitted. “I love growing things, arranging flowers and I had dreams of opening my own business.”
Ohme’s dream is to open a business and brand his skills under “Old Homestead Farms”, which will not only feature floral creations and plants grown from his own garden, but also meals featuring fresh locally grown fruits, vegetables, herbs, and meat. He is very dedicated to encouraging healthier food consumption, but he needs to find an appropriate building first. He would like these meals to be an event, something to be savored, and not rushed through like fast imitation food. Because creating the perfect meal, with fresh homegrown ingredients, is rather like composing a symphony….all the notes must be exactly right.
B.J. Ohme currently works as a para-educator at Arcadia Public Schools, as well as a part-time bus driver. He is available for cut flower arrangements and bouquets made to order, and makes deliveries throughout Valley County. He can be contacted at 402-314-8811 after school hours at his home in Arcadia where he can frequently be found working in his amazing garden. And if you’re even remotely interested in African Violets, you’re going to feel right at home.