Tuesday, July 12, 2011

(Not So) Sweet Violets

Violets are one of my very favorite flowers. They bloom cheerfully wherever I plant them. They withstand snow, late freezes and dry winds. They have the prettiest leaves. And they might have the best smell of any single flower.

I love the blue ones that bloom by the shady chimney corner in earliest springtime. The rest of the garden might be dead leaves and frost-heaved soil, but that one lovely corner reminds me that better things are in store for a gardener with patience.

My shy little Labrador violet is a work in progress in my Forest Garden. She survives and blooms, but remains modest and quiet despite encouraging doses of extra water and fertilizer. I enjoy the challenge of changing her microclimate to something more to her liking. Gardeners are silly like that.

My red-violet violets (do you name color based on the big box of 64 crayons, complete with built-in sharpener, you had as a child?) are my very most favorite. They were a Mother's Day present a gazillion years ago and remind me that my children are the most amazing miracle of all. Most years the red violets and the sweet woodruff bloom simultaneously and the mingling of leaves and flowers were a bit of garden serendipity.

Then there are my white violets. They make me utter that age-old gardeners' question:

Enamored by the unique white blossoms, I dug a few from the Queen Mother's old garden many years ago. They were one of the few plants that grew under the dry shade of the pin oak. They even managed to spread themselves with runners and seeds despite thick oak roots and hard soil. They grew much better under the white birch where the soil was rich, the water was plentiful and the shade was moderate.

Much. Better. (Alas.)

Yep, this yearly post chronicaling my battle again the dreaded white not-so-sweet violet is beginning to become a Meadowsweet tradition.
But guess what? I can see dirt now instead of a dense riot of violet plants! My weapon of choice (my big pick) is in permanent residence 'neath the birch so that I can loosen dirt and rip violet stems as I get a minute or two. Those minutes have added up nicely, despite summer temperatures. I have bare patches and I'm getting most of the roots out. I can see flowers that I actually want.
Like this pink mallow that mysteriously reappeared after five years.

I'm enjoying my time here in the garden at Encantado, but that doesn't stop me from sending long-distance evil thoughts to the remaining unsweet violets while I contemplate more digging and rooting out.  Physical violence, negative energy and the judicious application of noxious chemicals--them's my battle plans.

Extinction is not always a bad thing.

The determined/optimistic,

Visiing the Tuesday Garden Party over at An Oregon Cottage


  1. I have never seen the white violets but our little lavender ones grow in a nice compact bunch. They do spread all over the place, but it is a plant I really love, so no matter.

    PS I am going to check out the story you mentioned on my bird post... it won't make me cry, will it??

  2. I have a Labrador violet also. It stays about the same size but I see little ones coming up in different places. My daughter is wanting some of the babies for her new bed. I have the wild blue ones. There are some wild yellow ones in the parks that are so pretty.

  3. I love violets too - white or purple I love them all!

  4. The pink mallow is really beautiful. I had a mallow plant that I planted years ago, and over time it has reseeded all over--I just let it grow where I want it and pull up the rest. But mine is a darker pink, and has a really dark ring of color closer to the center of the flower.

  5. I feel your pain! There are some things I see at nurseries that I think should come with red flags and warnings... creeping jenny, lemon balm, mint, and violets:)

    Good luck. The good thing is you have something to take your aggression out on... in the most healthy way, of course.