Each spring I adore seeing purple and white violet blooms poking out of the lawn. The perky flowers of common blue violet (Viola sororia) and the delicate white flowers of Canadian white violet (Viola Canadensis) add a colorful touch to an otherwise sea of green. Since I tend to let nature help design my gardens, there are certain sections where I allow violets and other wildflowers to do their thing.
But encourage violets with caution – they are not a no-care perennial in perennial beds – a fact I learned after one spring with a broken foot that hindered my gardening routine. I share my tale of violet-woe as one of my gardening oops – GOOPs for short – a first of each month meme I started long ago.
It’s easy to fall under a violet spell. They pop up in dreary corners, at the base of a stone wall, and throughout the lawn. How cute is this little white violet growing between walkway pavers? Violets’ miniature blossoms stand above fresh, green heart-shaped leaves – a real spring mood-lifter. It’s breathtaking when they form a green and purple blanket at the base spring blooming bulbs. But violets spread … and spread … and spread, both by seed and rootlets.
Normally I keep violets in check by digging them up after their flowers have faded and before their seed pods form. Usually neighborhood deer help keep violets in check by browsing those growing among my more deer-resistant perennials. This also helps keep any remaining violets from going to seed. But the spring of my broken foot just happen to fall at the same time the neighborhood deer found fodder elsewhere. I missed my violet-thinning window of opportunity, the deer didn’t munch the flowers and tops – it was a violet-invading perfect storm.
That year, it was a chilly autumn weekend before I had the opportunity to go on a violet attack – to free my flower beds from the violet invasion. I spent most of a weekend draped in mud-covered rain gear digging violets from every corner of each bed. Bearded iris were so entwined with violet roots I had to dig up iris clumps, carefully tease out every violet rootlet, and replant the iris. I filled bucket after bucket with the violets I dug, and I had to go on a similar attack the following spring as new violets poked out of the ground.
Violet vigilance is usually a no-miss, no-excuse part of my spring routine. My season of violet abandon proved just how critical this routine is.
I want violets growing here among sweet woodruff (Galium odoratum). The combination creates a subtle ground cover at the rear of a perennial bed.
I don’t want violets growing among a lamb’s ear (Stachys byzantina) border. These violets will soon find a new home in the compost pile.
That’s my GOOPs. Ready to share one you’ve made? Leave a comment below or a teaser to entice a visit to a GOOPs post on your blog. Don’t be shy – we all make gardening blunders of some sort. Maybe by sharing we can help each other avoid, rather than repeat, a GOOPs.
Oh yeah … if anyone wants some common blue violets, I have plenty to share!