Violas of 2012

May 9, 2011 115 (2)

What is beauty, anyway?

April 5, 2012 038 (2)
Everything is beautiful…

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…Especially flowers.

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All flowers are beautiful, but violas hold a special place in the realm of blooms, to me.

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Their faces seem almost human, or perhaps feline with the whiskers etched around the center which suggests the lips of a smile.

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In the past, on this blog and even before there was an online Fairegarden, the effort was made to try and choose a favorite among the viola faces that appeared in springtime.

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We called it the Viola Beauty Pageant, jokingly referring to the contest held where the beauty of human females was compared while they paraded around wearing various outfits. It was a folly, with names and character traits made up to flesh out the narrative. Last year the pretty faces from the previous spring were shown the following January, a time when they could be better appreciated. The same has been done for the flowers of 2012, with bloom times in April and May, featured now in January.

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The viola story begins with the creation of the knot garden at the tippy tip top of this sloping garden. It is a spot that is level, the only such area here, due to its past life as being an alleyway where the garbage trucks would drive through to collect the week’s trash. I cannot imagine dragging rubbish bins up there, but that is the story I was told.

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Notebooks of magazine tear sheets carefully assembled to help dream of future gardens included many photos of knot gardens. After the slope was cleared when we moved here in 2000, the very first garden created was a formal knot garden at the top on that valuable level space, edged in salvaged bricks. Tulips went into the four quadrants that fall, overplanted with violas similar to the one shown above. A more complete story about the knot garden can be read by clicking here.

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At the same time seeds collected from the Texas garden from whence we had come of Bowle’s Black were scattered in the quads. Those two types of violas were the ancestors of what is now growing in the knot garden. Blue, violet, white and yellow were the colors, mixed and blended in the petals of the volunteers each year. Most all spring forth from the gravel paths rather than the beds intended for growing things.

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In the last few years, new colors of violas, most of them from the Antique Shades group have been planted along the edges of the quadrants in hopes of adding to the gene pool of colors.

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It seems to be working.

Viola Beauty Pageants of the past:

Viola Beauty Pageant 2011/2012 Fiona, Greta, Fawn, Gilda, Fleur, Ginger, Fay, Gayia, Desiree.


Viola Beauty Pageant-2010
Simone, Delilah, Elana, Penny, Ann Marie, Chloe, Jill, Kayleen, Beatrix, Geraldine-Miss Congeniality.

Winner-Ann Marie.

Viola Beauty Pageant-2009
Marlene, Blanche, Nadine, Opal, Calypso, Monique, Olivia, Delores, Chrystyne, Loueez, Savannah-Miss Congeniality.
May 19, 2009 028 (2)


Viola Beauty Pageant
Elspeth, Pearl, Roxey, Isis, Gypsy, Stream, Agnyss, Janet, Chessie, Renata, Inez, Jessica.


2007 winner-Felicty, pre-blogging


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20 Responses to Violas of 2012

  1. indygardener says:

    I also love the violas. I have a couple dozen packets of viola seeds that I am going to scatter in my garden late this winter in hopes they begin to naturalize here and there and everywhere. They are never pulled as weeds. Event spent plants are left until there is nothing there to pull. Love, love, love the violas.

    Hi Carol, thanks for sharing the viola love here. They are so sweet with those little faces, like children. Pulled as weeds? Never! May your seeds grow well and give you years of viola volunteers!

  2. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    It is always fun to see your parade of viola beauties.

    Thanks Lisa. I was wondering if it would be as enjoyable without the names and other distractions to view these beautiful and human like flowers. It is, to me anyway, glad it is for you, as well.

  3. gail says:

    Frances, They do have the sweetest little faces and I love them, too. I’ve seen the seeds but not the offspring~Will pay better attention and make sure I am not weeding them out instead of the aggressive field violets. xoxogail PS I cannot imagine hauling the rubbish bins up that hill!

    Thanks Gail. Learning what the baby violas look like is key to maintaining the volunteer population. Mistakes are still made here about that, with the sound of “Arggghhhhh” echoing through the neighborhood as it is discovered, too late. About the hill and hauling, there were no steps here at that time, just grass. It was nearly impossible even to just walk up the hill, or trudge would be the better word, carrying nothing!

  4. georgiafromga1 says:

    Your charming violas mark the first anniversary of my discovery of this amazing site, Frances. So glad we don’t have to vote this year. They are all so adorable. Can’t wait for this year’s Spring parade.

    Hi Georgia, thanks for being a loyal reader! I am happy to not have the voting, although it was fun for the first few years to write up the personalities and names. There are hints of spring all over the garden here, so exciting!

  5. Christy says:

    I love violas and this post is wonderful and so creative! I had to smile when I saw the winners wearing their crowns! Violas are one of my favorites and I too think they look like they have little faces. I like to plant the violas in fall because they keep blooming all through winter and into spring here. BTW…I also tear out magazine pages of designs, flowers, etc that I like. I have a whole binder full of them!

    Hi Christy, thanks so much. It was fun to draw the crowns, if somewhat difficult with my poor computer skills. Fall is when the violas get planted here, as well, spring gets too hot too soon. I have several notebooks, different ones for gardening, recipes, home decor and crafting. But they haven’t been added to since there is so much now online. Pinterest has filled that niche in my life! HA

  6. Cindy says:

    Another year of vivacious violas … I’m always amazed at the diversity! I have 2 flats waiting to be planted here, one of Cutie Pie and one of Red Blotch. If those two were to marry and produce offspring, I don’t think the results would be felicitous. Perhaps I’d better separate them today!

    Hi Cindy, thanks. The diversity and genetic differences are fascinating, aren’t they? Cutie Pie sounds like the first group of violas that were planted here, yellow and pale blue? Red Blotch will add some unique colors, in my opinion. Nature doesn’t make anything not pleasing, especially when it comes to viola volunteers.

  7. Since we are probably sharing the same greary (gray and dreary) day weather wise, I’m sure you can appreciate how delighted I am to have these cheerful, happy faces filling my screen. It was especially nice to see Fiona again…she was so fetching and had easily captured my heart and my vote. The class of 2012 all have their charms and are certainly diverse in their range of coloration. The orange toned one must have been a big Vol fan!

    Yes, Michaele, that is a good name for our weather, greary. The garden is slurping it down, it had been a while since we had a good soaker and winter seems to be when it comes around these parts. The violas look more lovely in January than the photos did last May when there was so much in bloom. Funny how that works. The orange one would have probably won, folks seem to like the ones that are different best.

  8. My fave is DEF photo May-8-2012-009-2. Such a magnificent color palette!
    Thank you for sharing these lovely images. 🙂

    Hi Karen, thanks for visiting. Folks might have their favorites, but they are all welcome here, equally. While scrolling through the photos, I will think that one is prettiest, then the next one is just as pretty, and so on. Sort of like the children’s book, Millions Of Cats, where the old man cannot pick the prettiest. HA

  9. Karen says:

    Can I ask where you bought your seed?

    These are volunteer violas that spring up in the gravel pathways of the knot garden each year. They have mixed and matched themselves in the beautiful patterns and colors. Human hands had nothing to do with it.

  10. karen says:

    I laughed out loud when I saw the crowns! Thanks for the nice pics and all. Here in zone 5 the violas that are white, purple and yellow are the only ones to come back. I’ve tried others that are straight yellow or orange and they do not reseed. If others have had luck with other colors in zone 5– do save me some seed and we can trade or let me know what cultivars to look for. They seem to have the best hardinesss- sometimes blooming as early as Feb. and on all summer until the snows come and a bit after…smiles….

    Hi Karen, thanks for seeing the light hearted spirit of these viola posts. The crowns were fun to do, I will miss that part of the beauty contests. Maybe next time they will all get crowns! Good luck on finding seeds of hardy violas for zone 5. If I were you, I would keep on trying the other colors and maybe plant them by some gravel. That is where the babies spring up here.

  11. Lola says:

    Such an array of beauty. I love them all.

    Thanks for visitng Lola. I love them all, too.

  12. Donna B. says:

    How I loved the little background on the history of the Viola pageant!
    And every time you post something about Viola’s I am reminded that I should pick some up and plant them! I never give annual flowers a chance – but they’re so beautiful! I don’t know why I don’t…
    [Surely cannot wait for the voting to begin… I already know which one I’m voting for!!]

    Hi Donna, thanks for stopping by. Do pick up some violas, they are so sweet and really add a lot to the garden. The reseeding here only happens up in the knot garden gravel, even though I plant violas all over the place. I don’t know what is so special about it there, but it defininitely is the viola nursery for babies. There will be no voting this year and most likely again. But you are free to have your favorite!

  13. Dee says:

    Gosh, they are so lovely. The crowns are hilarious! I couldn’t pick. I love them all.~~Dee

    Hi Dee, thanks. I like the crowns, too. No need to pick a favorite, it is more of a parade of beauties than a contest this time.

  14. Helen Johnstone says:

    I like violas and much prefer them to pansys which I think are too blousey. I love the faces and the delicate shading and colour combinations. I am going to try to grow some more from seed this year.

    Hi Helen, that is the same way I feel. The smaller but more numerous viola flowers are more pleasing and seem to be hardier through the winter here, as well. Good luck on your endeavors with seeds!

  15. Cute idea…I love violas and hope to grow several kinds from seed again this spring

    Thanks Donna. The violas are great, glad to hear your seed sowing has been a success!

  16. Rose says:

    I’m glad I got to meet some of your beauties in person last spring–they’re all beauty queens to me!

    Hi Rose, thanks for being here in person to witness the violas strutting their stuff. The are tiny, but quite photogenic.

  17. Gwen Ochoa says:

    I loved your pictures and especially the crowns !! I too laughed out loud you clever garden girl!!! I know you have a great imagination . Your fairy Friend Gwen!

    Hi Gwen, thanks so much. I am glad you liked the frivolity of the beauty pageant and hooray for fairies!

  18. I love violas, too. Somehow, because the pageant was in January, I thought that’s when they bloomed for you as well. Everything in your garden seems to bloom earlier than in mine . . . but, really? Your violas bloom in April?

    Hi Kathy, thanks for visiting. It might be confusing, but we do have violas that bloom in January, those store bought ones planted the previous fall. But the beauty pageant was only open to those violas that arise from self seeding, mostly in the gravel paths of the knot garden. Those bloom in May, with a few early starters in April. They are all annuals here, they cannot stand the heat and drought of our summers.

  19. Violas are such sweet little blooms. I found one that I need to order, a Rebecca, to add to my family garden.

    Hi Janet, thanks for stopping by. That viola will be so sweet in your family garden. I love that idea!

  20. Barbara H. says:

    At first I was sad about no voting, but it’s actually a relief. They are all so beautiful and each shines brightly in her little kingdom. I’m so glad that you are still sharing their portraits.

    Thanks Barbara, relief is the word to best describe how I feel about it, too. I am glad you enjoyed just looking at them, like art in a museum, they don’t need to be compared to one another, although that was fun, too.

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