I need violas. Not to be confused with I want violas. I must have violas. Violas, not pansies, although those are nice and some might come to live here in the Fairegarden, to settle into containers and beds as fall turns to winter turns to spring. But it is violas we need. Violas do not need to be deadheaded and the blooms are smaller but more numerous, the plants more vigorous.
Planted now, the roots can grow on and embed themselves into the earth and Fafard mix of the containers. They will look pretty for a few months, sort of take a nap during January and February then come back to life in March, holding court until June when the heat finally exhausts them. Mulch will help them resist the heaving that our normal freeze-thaw torture cycle of winter inflicts upon them.
The worst trial comes from the devil squirrels. With walnut in mouth, I see them scurrying along the wall behind the main house as I sit reading in the loveseat in the master bedroom, looking up at the garden view through the glass sliders. Sigh. The varmints come back from their vandalism, sans nut and I know there will be a toxic walnut tree growing come spring, with roots that reach to the center of the earth. It is the freshly dug soil of the viola planting that these anti-gardeners adore. Why not, I have already done the hard labor during the planting of the fall color. They especially love to hide their nuts in the containers which have the softest of all soil.
Enough with the belly aching, let’s go shopping. My favorite spot for buying any and all plants is the local perennial farm, Mouse Creek.
Owner Ruth Baumgardner always has some lovely viola choices that she grows from seed in her greenhouse. I like to get there and grab several flats before she trucks them off to other destinations, to her wholesale customers. The violas really should not be planted here until October, but since I am a good customer she will sell them to me now, with the promise that they won’t be planted until the proper time. I can usually wrangle some goodies with gentle begging and solemn planting promises. The Chosen were:
Blue Delft. She has a new seed supplier and these new varieties are wonderful.
If Ruth is not busy with a tour group or other customers, we will walk around the greenhouses and chat about plants and such. I love being able to go there, help a local business, add beautiful plants to my garden and visit with a friend. She always has violas in the fall, too. And I need violas, for not only are they luscious, they self-sow.
Violas are needed to juice up the gene pool for the Viola Beauty Pageant, composed solely of self sown viola volunteers in the gravel paths of the knot garden each May. This year we decided to hold the contest during winter, when the sight of bright happy viola faces will be much more welcome than May when flowers abound. Shots of the most beautiful were taken in May. That will give me plenty of time to write their biographies, too. Above is the 2010 winner, Ann Marie. Here are the posts featuring the contestants to date:
Viola Beauty Pageant
( 2008, the first year of blog posting about it, but we had been chosing our favorites for several years before that.)