Friday, May 06, 2005

Mother's Violets

My favorite flower is the wood violet. Violets always remind me of my mother. She always had lots, and lots of them in her yard. Of course any flower could remind me of Mother. She had a very special way of being able to grow just about anything. But violets always jog my memories of her. I remember how she would pick one of the tiny, little, purple blossoms, smell it, then hand it to me and say, “Smell it. It will make you feel better.” And it would. When they were blooming in the early spring she would always keep a tiny vase filled with them and sitting on a shelf over the kitchen sink where she could see and smell them. I hope that where ever Mother is now she has time to ‘Stop and smell the violets’ as well as all the other flowers she used to grow.
With that in mind let me give you a few hints about raising violets. First of all they may not be very big but they certainly send out a lot of very fragrant, heady perfume. Violets are usually one of the earliest flowers to bloom each year. They start blooming in late winter here in the southwest, and in early spring in other parts of the United States. In fact I found my first one this winter on New Year’s Day. One doesn’t expect to find flowers, let alone such a wonderful perfume, from such a small usually unnoticed plant.
There are lots of different kinds of violets, or violas, which are kin to the pansy. Mine seems to have the sweetest order of any I have smelled. I got my start from my mom and she got hers from her mom, and that’s going back more than fifty years so I couldn’t say for sure which verity it actually is. They grow rapidly from seed and division by clumps and become a pest if not kept under control. Mine are larger than the wild violets but not near as big as a pansy. And are a deep purple in color.
I have found that a pot of violets makes a great gift at any time especially for the beginning gardener, or for that special mom on Mother’s Day. I have seen and even eaten some violets that were candied and used for decorations on cakes and cookies. My Mother used to do it, but I haven’t tried it yet.
Next time you want to try something a bit different in your flowerbeds, give violets a try. I have let them invade a small flowerbed right by my front door. I know that this wonderful little flower will great me, and any visitors I have, with a lovely sight and a profusion of smell for about 6 weeks each spring. Give them a try, and maybe they will remind you of someone special.

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