Friday, March 21, 2008

Violets with a scent as strong as wine

The violets start blooming in late December or January, and bloom for a couple of months. The last of them, in some shady spots, are just finishing now. My very favorite lawn weed.

They don't get tall and luxurious for me, since my fat jackrabbits eat them, and sometimes after a rain or watering the deer apparently weed them out by the roots. But they still bloom like crazy, through the pine needles. White ones too, and lavender.

I like to plant them at the base of roses. They are fragrant when the roses are being pruned, and that is nice, but the main reason is to shade the base of the roses. One year an early hot spell sunburned the bud unions of almost a whole bed of roses, just starting to leaf out, and the bark cracked, and flathead borers got in, and by August almost the whole bed of roses was dead. The only survivor had a violet growing at its base, shading it from sunburn. So I plant violets at the base of the roses.

One year I was on the roof in February. I am not usually on the roof in February, but the chimney sweep had the flu, and the main floor fireplace was smoking, and I had reason to suspect that the blockage was in the chimney cap, not the chimney itself, (the ectoplasm incident), so I was on the roof in February.

And from three stories up I could smell the violets, strong as wine.

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At 3/28/2008 3:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, lovely! Did you start those from seed? Do you know which cultivars they are?

At 3/28/2008 9:36 PM, Blogger MinaW said...

No, this is the house my grandfather had built in 1917, and probably they were started by my grandmother. Try your local nursery, ask when the old-fashioned violets will be blooming, and then sniff them. (Warm moist weather is good for scents.) Probably most cultivars will be less fragrant than the plain old Viola odorata (I think that's the right name).


At 3/29/2008 3:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks! I'll check the nurseries. I suspect it may be tricky getting them established here (Port Townsend) if they're big deer favorites, but it sounds as if they'd be worth the effort. I could keep little cages over 'em the first couple of years...


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