Friday, 27 April 2007

Viola, the botanical name for pansy and violet.

Growing just outside our front door are posies of pretty perennial violas, which create a mass of low growing colour in shades of blue, purple, indigo and violet. The plants thrive in little spaces deliberately left between paving slabs, which my husband laid. The reasons why I chose to position them there will become evident.
They first begin flowering here in April when the tulips are in bloom, and extend their growing season throughout the Summer till late October, when the Michaelmas daisies are out. Even during wet Summers they produce a wealth of charming ‘faces’ in jewel-like shades, and every year, without fail, they repeat their performance. They are not prone to diseases, are seldom affected by insects, and require very little maintenance, other than a good haircut at the end of the season. Sweetly scented, their perfume becomes stronger on warmer days.

Their habit is clump forming which makes them ideal for growing along the front of a border and along the edges of paths. Being shade tolerant they also do well under shrubs and roses. I grow the white viola cornuta under our rugosa hedge, where, on Summer evenings they draw the eye, owing to their resemblance to little white butterflies.
Although violas are similar to pansies, there are many differences. Pansies have larger heads, tend to be more straggly, are more often annual or biennial, can be badly affected by heavy rain, and have a shorter growing season. That is not to say that I do not grow them in our garden. I love the colourful frilly-headed varieties with their velvety texture, and find them ideal for growing in pots and troughs.
The earliest violas I remember as a child were the little heartsease, or Johnny Jump Ups, growing wild in fields. The first year we created the garden here, I sowed several packets of them and through the years they have seeded themselves around, beautifying the paths and our scree bed, and creating a striking effect.
Under our potentilla hedge I grow cousins of the viola, little violets with purple heart-shaped leaves. The flower is similar to the viola but at the end of each petal there is a spur. As their name suggests, they are violet in colour and are sweet scented like the viola odorata. Apart from their intrinsic beauty, I find violas, pansies and violets so irresistible, they are essential plants in our cottage garden at Barleycorn.

37 comments:

Sheila said...

These sweet flowers are among my favourites. I always have pansies and violas in the garden. Many years ago I was given a small clump of violets, and they have now self seeded everywhere, including the lawn. This year they are exceptional.

A wildlife gardener said...

I would love to see a picture of them on your blog, Sheila. Violas are great favourites of mine too. Thanks for visiting.

Em said...

These are just stunning! We are barely getting green shoots up from the dirt, so far. Well, a couple of things have blooms, but not very much. We've got another two weeks or so before we really start to enjoy some spring color.

Sally said...

How lovely W.G.!

Chris said...

Your pics are a delight to see. I had grown a little tired of pansies but I will think again :-) thank you for sharing your beautiful little faces.

smilnsigh said...

Hello. I just came over here, from a pointer in Sheila's blog {. I'm so glad I did.

I love violets and ours are late, this year. I'm sure I will enjoy coming back and seeing all your lovely flower photos.

Mari-Nanci

smilnsigh said...

Ooops, messed up that link again. I am sooooooooo dense, about links. -sigh-

Mari-Nanci

meggie said...

I am here from Sheila, too. Beautiful pics of all your flowers. I have violet plants, but they never flower.. dont know why.
Must be my brown thumbs.

Libbys Blog said...

Well you learn something new everyday!!!! I never knew violas where good in shade, now I know they do I shall plant some out the front (north facing) in the gravel! Thank you! Sorry I haven't been visiting mch this week, to see why visit my main blog!

A wildlife gardener said...

Welcome to our little corner of paradise, everyone, and thank you for visiting and for your much appreciated comments.

em, I hope you have a great Spring...good things are worth waiting for.

Sally you are very generous, thank you.

Chris, thanks for introducing yourself. Violas are great little 'doers', with little effort required...so, go on, have a go!

Hello, smilnsigh, lovely to meet you. thanks for stopping by, and please come again.

Nice to see you, Meggie. Sorry to hear your violets don't flower...not sure why. I know how you feel though as, whenever I have an African violet houseplant , once the flowers are spent it never flowers for me again!

Hi, Libby! The viola cornuta is the best in shade. They come in blue or white and look like butterflies...very sweet.

smilnsigh said...

Thank you for commenting, on my entry on the re-launch of Victoria magazine. Yes, it had the most wonderful photos, for most of its run.

One photographer was Toshi Otsuki. And this person took the most lovely, misty, soft photos. I have the feeling that he began his career, at the time of Victoria's early years. By now, I doubt the re-launched Victoria can afford his work. -sigh-

Mari-Nanci

RUTH said...

So many smiling viola faces greeting me on your blog today. Lovely.

Thalia said...

I had no idea that Violas grow in such thick clusters so abundantly, all the violas I have seen were always a bunch of three or four flowers. They look so brilliant in these pictures!

A wildlife gardener said...

Hi, Ruth, they are sweet little flowers, aren't they?

A wildlife gardener said...

Hello, Thalia! Violas are amazing...quiet little flowers which pack a punch!

B.T.Bear (esq.) said...

WOW you have a lovely garden. You shouls open it to visitors! We'll come, and bring carrot cake!

Thank you for the advice re the bees.
We bought a 'bug box' and hung it next to the holes in the wall. Now most of them use the box. They are sealing the holes in the box up with mud now- are there babies within, you think?? When they've used all of them we'll move it away from the door and put it further down the garden.

All very fascinating, though!

Bob :@}

A wildlife gardener said...

Hello again, b.t.bear (esq)! Lovely to have a visit from you. I think there will be babies within very soon. Bees are fascinating, but when they sting you they die, so we have to look after them, as you are doing, because there would be no plants without them. I have painting days in the garden with all my artist friends, and family and friends from May to September. You'd be very welcome too!

Yolanda Elizabet said...

They are invaluable in the garden, aren't they. I just love them to bits with their sweet little faces, lovely colour and scent. You can never have too many viola's.

A wildlife gardener said...

I agree entirely, Yolande. I've loved them since I was a child.

Gardener Greg said...

Lovely flowers, I have some new additions opening up soon too.

Greg

A wildlife gardener said...

Thank you, gardener greg. I'll come and pay you a visit to see them.

Wendz said...

There is something so peaceful about your blog - its relaxing just being here and looking at your beautiful photos. Thanks! :)

A wildlife gardener said...

That's a lovely compliment, Wendz. Thank you for visiting again.

Dawn said...

Simply breathtaking! I love your waves of purple violas under the red poppies in the first photo. It was nice to see someone else refer to viola "faces". That is the way my mother speaks of them as well.

Thank you for explaining how your viola grow in Scotland. I wish they would bloom from spring until October here in Austin.

:-)
Dawn

Kate said...

This is such an interesting post with amazing pictures. The colours are so vibrant and lovely - I didn't realise that Johnny Jump-ups were also called heartsease. I love how pansies seem to do well in so many parts of the world, blooming with abandon and without worry. They appear in the most out-of-the-way places and don't seem to mind if they are stepped on the odd time!

A wildlife gardener said...

Thank you for introducing yourself, Dawn, and for your very encouraging comments. I have just posted a picture of some more pretty viola faces I have on my photo blog of the garden :)

Hello, Kate, thanks for stopping by again. Violas are very versatile, aren't they, and often overlooked for more garish flowers. But I love their quiet temperament and interesting faces.

Becky said...

The way those red flowers pop out . . . well they just make my eyes pop out. Beautiful

A wildlife gardener said...

Mine too, Becky. Thanks for visiting again.

Ida said...

I loooove these flowers. Beautiful! (:

Green thumb said...

Hi dear W.G! lovely violas and pansies.
Its heartening to see all these flowers in bloom.
I had a nice bloom of Pansies and violas myself but the Pansy season in my garden finished a month back although it is the first time that I have come across so many varieties in violas.

A wildlife gardener said...

Welcome, Ida, nice to meet you. they are lovely, aren't they? Thanks for stopping by.

Hello again, green thumb. I am amazed you can grow so many things in the hot temps in India. Your garden is a wonder to me.

Ida said...

Yes. They are lovely! (:
I have been sowing hundereds of them myself. From seeds that i collected at fall. I have to keep them in my greenhouse a couple of weeks still.
Until the weather is more stable.
I will visit you again soon.
Take care and enjoy the blossom. (:

A wildlife gardener said...

Hello again, Ida! Oh I do hope your seeds are successful. I have always found them easy to grow, and once established, they self-seed, which is all part of nature's bounty. I'll shall visit your blog to look for a post about your seeds.

Blackswamp_Girl said...

How lovely! I especially like the purple-leaf violets that you have... they're so beautiful in a quiet, dignified way. :)

Gotta Garden said...

I can't imagine spring without them! Yours are so lovely and so many kinds! I'm thinking you have a cooler summer...and, if so, do they last longer for you? The heat here gets them, usually by June.

I tend to favor the purples/blues...but this year, some soft yellows found there way here also! Really, how can you not like any of them! Such a rainbow of colors!

A wildlife gardener said...

Welcome, blackswamp_girl, thanks for visiting. These are very good at naturalising under hedges.

Hello, gotta garden! Our Summers are cooler and wetter! I agree with you about the rainbow of colours...such sweet little faces too.

Jennifer Hawkins Hock said...

I found this blog searching for information about the early Victoria magazine photographer Toshi Otsuki and found your lovely photos! Watched the Fantastic Mr. Fox home video and was reminded of a time I threw some stale fast food french fries into the pasture near my house, tended to my compost barrel and turned to find a brilliant red fox eating the french fries. Enjoyed your musical accompaniment to the video as well.