• ljmarkson

You Can Only Have a Native Violet Bouquet if You Grow It

Non-native roses are widely admired. Native violet’s value is underestimated. But if you grow violets in your yard. Nature will be exhilarated.

Okay, so violet rhymes are not my thing, but I think you get my point. Making a yard healthier for wildlife can be as easy as nurturing the native plants already growing in it. Native violet species are a great place to start.

All native violets in my naturescaped yard are welcome! I may move them around a bit so they can be massed as a groundcover or edging plant. I planted this patch along the top of a retaining wall.

Unfortunately, violets are one of the most maligned native plants in traditional landscapes. I’ve mentioned before in another context that even though violets were once considered popular and worthy enough to be designated the state flower in four states, they’re now one of the top targeted lawn “weeds” by herbicide companies. It seems anachronistic in today’s environmentally conscious world to poison a low maintenance, pretty, edible and high wildlife value native plant in pursuit of a fussy, outdated, environmentally destructive, non-native perfect grass lawn.

If you take a moment to stop to look at a violet, it's easy to see why it was once so beloved and wonder how it was ever cast aside as a mere weed.

According the NWF site designed to help identify the most useful native plants where you live, violets are one of the top 10 native plants for hosting the highest numbers of butterflies and moths to feed birds and other wildlife in my zip code. Twenty-Six species of butterflies and moths use this as a caterpillar host plant my area; including the giant leopard moth and a handful of fritillaries!

I'm always thrilled when I see a creature is eating something in my yard. I hope the holes in these wild violets are from one of the 26 butterfly or moth species that use it as a host plant in my Atlanta neighborhood.

I try to profile violet’s landscape utility and charm by using them in my yard as an edging plant along the driveway, walkway and wherever a diminutive and hardy groundcover is needed.

This adorable and persistent little clump of native violets is somehow surviving in crack between my driveway and a retaining wall. It makes me smile every time I get out of my car.

I’m not a fan of lawns so I don’t have one, but if I did, I’d intentionally make sure my spring lawn was a carpet of lovely purple and white violets.

When walking around my neighborhood I prefer the charm of this lawn over all the uninteresting chem green lawns

If you’re lucky enough to have violets growing in your yard, you might not realize just how special they really are. Years ago, long before the internet, I tried to find a florist that could send a bouquet of wild violets to my mother who loved them and lived in Brooklyn where there were few wild violets to be found. I learned then that they were not sold commercially. They still aren’t. The only way you can have a sweet little bouquet of violets is to grow them. In this context pesticide-soaked environmentally toxic roses grown in faraway places are the pedestrian out-of-fashion flowers and dainty little eco-friendly violets are the hip, desirable and illusive flowers of affection.

My favorite spring bouquet is finding four-leaf clovers (not native) and pairing them with wild violets. The display in my kitchen windowsill is much more enchanting to look at while doing dishes than any commercially grown flowers I could buy.

Note: My goal in this post is to be a violet fangirl. If you want more specific information about Georgia violet species, click here for an informative detailed blog post about violets by the head of the Georgia Native Plant Society.

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