Saturday, March 24, 2012


Day 66
The Daily DuBrule

Violets represent one of the most beloved and one of the most maligned plants in the gardening world. First of all, let me say that I admit to everyone that I am a violet lover.  Okay, I've said it. A plant that makes people roll their eyes in frustration, a plant ripped from gardens and sprayed with herbicides and banished from lawns makes me happy. Go figure. I must be nuts, right? Wrong. 

In the picture above you will see Viola labradorica, the Labrador violet, a native plant that graces my gardens both at home and at Natureworks. How can you not love this little plant? Purple diminutive leaves. Adorable flowers. It's March 24th and this is in full bloom up against my foundation. I saw it this evening as I did my "walkabout the estate" and exclaimed in delight. Yes, it seeds around. So what. It's charming. Cute as a button.

According to the American Beauties website that focuses on native plants ( some of the many benefits of Viola labradorica are:
  • Nectar source for butterflies and other pollinators
  • Larval food source for many fritillary butterflies
  • Good ground cover for shady areas
  • Provides cover for small wildlife
  • Cardinals and other songbirds eat the seed

Another violet I love is 'Freckles', white with purple spots. This too spreads around my gardens to its hearts content and I let it. It's just too cute for words.

I pick bouquets of violets and place them in tiny glass vases and put them on the windowsill. People candy them, dipping them in egg whites and then in sugar, and decorate cakes. A few years ago, I happened upon a perfect circle of purple violet in my front lawn. I called it my fairy ring. While my neighbor was engaged in spreading poisons to eradicate every non-lawn grass plant, which he considers noxious weeds, from his property, I was celebrating this magical arrangement of one of our native plants growing in a circle in my front yard. 

Violets have been picked by children and given to their mothers for generations. They have graced lapels and been the inspiration for May baskets and other old fashioned floral tributes since mankind has been writing about flowers. I refuse to fall for the theory that they are the enemy. They are the state flower of no less than four states in the U.S.A. They have been used as a medicine (both the leaves and the flowers) for as long as mankind has been recording such things.

Recently, one of my customers emailed me that she has written a book about the fragrant violets that were grown as cut flowers for the florist industry. When this book is published, I am going to have her give a talk and do a book signing at Natureworks. I beg you to look twice at the "weeds" your world. Most of them have uses and significance to humankind beyond your wildest dreams. With spring in full swing, embrace the weeds and respect their place in the web of life. Keep an open mind, do a little research, and you just might be surprised!


  1. The Select Seeds newsletter in February had a ton of info about sweet violets, and how Rhinebeck, NY was the violet capital of the world. (It also had some lovely recipes - violet ice cream!) If you would like to see it, shoot me an email, and I'll forward it to you. (It doesn't seem to be on their website.)

  2. I'll admit in past years I'd go around in frustration and pulling every violet up I could find and tossing them into the woods. They nearly take over. But I think last year, with the arrival of my daughter Olivia, i didn't have a chance to do as much maintenance. I let them go. I've learned to appreciate them on a different level; a nice groundcover, a great companion plant to amost anything in my sun or shade gardens. If it gets too much, they are easily removed.