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.
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conscious world to poison a low maintenance, pretty, edible and high wildlife value native plant in pursuit of a fussy, outdated, environmentally destructive, non-native perfect grass lawn.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.