Abies balsamea 'Nana'

Abies balsamea 'Nana'

Saturday, April 12, 2014

I'm back! And my favorite plant in the garden this week is: Viola sempervirens

After roughly 3000 miles, five and one half days driving, and another week recovering from a nasty cold that came into full force for me right after my parents and I reached home, I am back in the Pacific Northwest and FINALLY back to blogging. Having a cold during the beautiful weather that we've been having in the PNW this past week has been torture and between that and the cold itself I was in a pretty foul mood and felt terribly physically, none of which would have made for good (read: polite) blogging. I'll be doing a post on my trip across the country (not that we did much sight-seeing, as priority was given to getting the last of my plants home quickly) and I'll be doing quite a few posts about getting reacquainted with the garden here at my parents' home. Be forewarned, it was never an award-winner to at the best of times, and now it is not a sight for the faint of heart. I missed quite a bit while I was travelling and sick, even my pageviews passing the 1,000 mark!

But that will have to wait a bit longer. I'm on the mend from my cold, but I'm still not 100%, so I wanted to get back to blogging with something easier (and shorter): my favorite plant in the garden this week. This meme is hosted by Danger Garden and you can see what caught other gardeners' eyes this week by checking the comments.

My favorite plant this week is a native of the Pacific Northwest, Viola sempervirens. This small native violet is also known as the evergreen violet, because it is evergreen (Who'd have guessed?), the yellow trailing violet (it spreads by stolons and short rhizomes), and redwood violet (though it ranges far beyond the redwoods). The best part about this plant is that, except for weeding around it, it is a true no-maintenance plant. The violet itself never needs grooming and even plants itself!

These cheery yellow flowers light up open areas under Douglas firs and at the edges of lawns

This is a particularly vigorous clump, though it's only begun to spread.
 The stats for Viola sempervirens

  • USDA Hardiness zones 5-10 (guessing as I could not find an actual USDA hardiness zone rating)
  • Native range: from Alaska to California, ranging inland to Idaho in moist coniferous forest.
  • 1-3 inches tall, spread indefinite but usually sparse. Spreads by stolons and reseeds.
  • Prefers part-shade but tolerates full shade and full sun in the morning. Will not tolerate hot afternoon sun in the dry PNW summers
  • Evergreen

The slugs do munch on the flowers a little, but it doesn't slow them down much!

In areas where other plants provide competition, the evergreen violet spreads around, popping up through other plants wherever there is a hole. Unfortunately not a dense enough ground cover to smother weeds. 
I haven't been home at the right time to see these little blooms in at least two years. I love walking through the woods and seeing them blooming in the moss and needles under the trees, like little drops of sunlight during what is usually a pretty rainy time of year. This year they are even more cheery in the warmth and sunlight.

Until next time...

7 comments:

  1. I had no idea there was a native Viola. I should try growing some in my native area.

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    1. There are several. This is the most common in my area but it is also my favorite. I'd be. Happy to give you some. There are about 12 species native to the PNW. I have 3: sempervirens, glabella (yellow stream violet), and what I think is langsdorfii (Alaska violet).

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  2. Lovely, a plant that plants it's self is a good thing (as long as it's not a thug).

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    1. Luckily it isn't a thug. I try to eliminate those as soon as I see their true nature. I haven't grown it with other tiny ground covers, but it doesn't make a solid mat. It springs up in little clumps and loose drifts where the seeds or stolons find an opening. In the woods it creates a mozaic with mosses and other small plants.

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  3. A beautiful violet! I have a couple of purples that I allow to grow in the lawn because they're such thugs in flower beds. The perfect chemical lawn companies sometimes leave fliers on my door telling me that they can get rid of these pesky "weeds" in my lawn for me. Welcome back and happy spring!

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    1. Haha! Oh if they could see my parents' lawn. It has more moss than grass, with generous helpings of dandelions, English daisies, and various other non-grassy plants.

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