The African Violet Society of America–AVSA– and its regional branches hold regular gardening competitions. To put all competitors on an equal footing, the Society establishes rules governing how various categories of entries are presented. One of these is "natural gardens."
There are by some counts, more than 40,000 different varieties of African violets. Some plants feature frilly edged blossoms and variegated petals. Others have shiny leaves or miniature forms. Any and all may be included in a natural garden as governed by the rules of the Society.
One category of entries for an AVSA competition is container gardens. Within this category are four subdivisions of entries: dish gardens, terrarium gardens, bottle gardens and natural gardens.
Natural gardens, in order to qualify for competition, must be presented in containers found in nature such as shells, driftwood, lava or stone. There is no minimum size for these containers, but they may not exceed 24 inches in any direction.
Of course, competition entries in the natural gardens category must include African violets, but other plants may be used as well.
The competitive gardener has the option under the rules of using more than one pocket or opening in the natural container. Containers like driftwood often offer opportunities to take advantage of this rule.