Tenacious Violets

Violets are one of the first flowers in my woods, a number of species emerging when it is still winter here. I have at least half a dozen species, flowering from late winter well into spring. Now all the forest violets are dormant, but for months now a small white violet has been flowering in one of my window boxes.

This plant came from a local nursery half a dozen years ago. Right now, in spite of hard freezes last month and more expected most nights this coming week, it is looking surprisingly perky. I imagine this plant is from seeds of the original plant, but they can live surprisingly long.

At this time of year, local nurseries are full of an assortment of colorful violets and pansies, a close relative in the same genus of plants, Viola. They are commonly planted at this time of year and provide color in many gardens through winter. It seems an odd time of year to be planting flowers, but they are surprisingly tough.

My mom used to get a hanging basket of pansies or violets for her screen porch in Asheville. When it got really cold, I would encourage her to bring them inside for a day or two, but generally she just let them fend for themselves. Surprisingly, even in very cold weather they would look a bit worse for wear but then bounce back.

It is nice having flowers from fall into winter, when my garden has few flowers in bloom. The extra protection of the overhanging roof provides just enough shelter that they seem to endure all but the very coldest weather. And even if they lose some flowers in extreme cold, in a short time more appear to take their place. Though I appreciate the four seasons, winter is not my favorite. I am not looking forward to the snow that may fall tonight. That should wait another month since it is still autumn and let me enjoy my white in flowered form. But knowing these flowers, whatever the weather throws at them they will rebound and give me flowers until my yard comes back to life.