Violas for Spring

Violas for Spring via Hedgerow RoseIf you follow my account on Instagram, then you may have seen the photo I posted sharing the very first flower of 2015 in our garden. Well, it’s soon to not be my garden any longer, but I still consider it my first flower of the year! It was a Viola, also known as Heartsease, and ease my winter-weary heart it did with it’s happy countenance and promise of sunnier days to come.

starting viola seedsLast winter, on a sort of last-minute seed buying spree, I purchased several packets of Violas because I’m tired of the colors you find in nurseries these days and I knew that I could get so much more bang for my buck if I did it myself. I am happy to say that they were incredibly easy, albeit a bit fiddly as I used a tiny pair of tweezers to place each seed in it’s cell but that’s probably going a bit extreme as I am sometimes wont to do. You must remember to cover the cells with something to give them darkness–see photo above. I think I had close to 100% germination rate!

A collection of Violas via Hedgerow RoseThe varieties I ordered were: V. cornuta ‘Black Delight’, V. cornuta ‘Pink Halo’, V. cornuta ‘Delft Blue’ and V. x williamsii ‘Tiger Eye’. As you can see from photo above, it looks like I got all the colors I wanted except ‘Black Delight’ was a real head-scratcher. I did find a handful of very dark purple blossoms but for the most part they emerged as a bi-color instead. Still very pretty to be sure, but they didn’t have the richness of the ‘Black Delight’ that I was hoping for. Next time!

(In fact, if I can just put a plug in for Swallowtail Garden Seeds where I purchased these: when I contacted them as to whether or not I was sent the correct variety, they didn’t even question if I was being a looneytoon/complete moron but immediately sent a replacement seed packet which I’ll try again in new garden. How great is that customer service?)

Viola cornuta 'Delft Blue' via Hedgerow RoseMy absolute favorite of these was, without a doubt, the ‘Delft Blue’ (seen above) but I did enjoy the ‘Pink Halo’ even though the color seems more lavender than pink. Both varieties appear as though the colors were applied with the tiniest watercolor brush; I imagine garden fairies tiptoeing out at night with their palettes and paint to make the garden lovely. (These are the same fairies who trim the leaves of my Félicité Parmentier rose with their pinking shears, of course.)

Viola x williamsii 'Tiger Eye' via Hedgerow RoseThe ‘Tiger’s Eye’ variety did look quite smart, I must admit, tucked away in terracotta pots. These were best appreciated at eye-level as the patterning from one blossom to the next is so unique!

Pressing Viola blossoms via Hedgerow RoseThese Violas bloomed well into autumn and at one point I thought it would be neat to press some blossoms for a future jewelry project. I’m thinking preserving them in resin pendants, what do you think? Yes, no?

A collection of Violas stretched canvas print via Hedgerow RoseIf you’ll allow me one last plug–this time for my own business: The past few weeks I’ve been working my fanny off behind-the-scenes, creating a really nice shop here on Hedgerow Rose for my canvas prints (like the one seen above) and all my jewelry. Some of you may know that in just about a week, I will be putting my Etsy shop on permanent vacation (IT’S TIME) so making the shop here more delightful and user friendly was a must. It’s almost done now, and you can pop in using the link in the nav Bar or the graphic in sidebar. I know there are many of you who read this blog and also shop with me and it’s your support over the years that has allowed me to keep doing what I love. You have no idea how much I appreciate that. Thank you! ♡

6 thoughts on “Violas for Spring

  1. Laurie, you never cease to amaze me with your vast gardening expertise! I have grown and adored viola for years and I agree that its difficult to find the prettiest ones in garden centers. When I lived in Richmond I had ample access to them, but not so here. It never occurred me that it might just worthwhile to grow my own. You have inspired me to give it a try! Thank you! And congratulations on having your own lovely shop right here on your website!

    1. Aww thank you Cynthia that is so kind! Let me know how it works out for you and which kinds you try. 🙂

  2. I love violas. I used to press them in a thick book when I was little. I’m sure I could google this, but what are the key differences of violas from pansies? My grandma sugars pansies for cake decorating, and I wonder if I could do the same with a viola or if I would end up poisoning myself… Hah.

    1. Hi Lindsey! It’s my understanding that Pansies belong to the Viola genus (which is rather large) but are bred from the original wild Violas to be large and showy with that prominent, center blotch of color. (I think the hybridization programs really kicked off in the 19th century.) So, Pansies are Violas but gardeners tend to refer to the smaller-flowered Violas, with their “rays” color patterning, simply by their genus name and leave Pansy for larger, showier types with that center patch of color. Here is a great article that talks about Pansies and Violas. Violas/Pansies are edible, but you should only eat the ones you grow yourself to make sure they haven’t been treated with anything. Here is what Martha has to say about that! 🙂

    1. It’s funny how they are up and blooming even before the crocus, snowdrops and even the winter aconite! Makes me wonder why I haven’t been growing swaths of these all along. 🙂

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