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AAS Viola

I have two strong associations with the name Viola. First it was my mother’s name. Growing up I never met anyone else named Viola and wondered whatever had possessed my grandmother to choose such an unfashionable name.

When I got to high school I was amazed to find one of Shakespeare’s brave and passionate heroines named Viola. During a shipwreck she is separated from her twin Sebastian, and unbeknownst to both they wash up on the shores of Illyria. And what could a maiden do when alone in a strange country? She must disguise herself as a boy for her own safety.

Then follows the comedy of errors. Eventually the wins and their lovers sort themselves out for a happy ending and Viola is once again her delightful self. So it was that I gained a different appreciation for the name, but I still did not know about the existence of a flower named viola.

I was familiar with Johnny jump ups of course, which I always thought of as a kind of wild pansy. Like a pansy it loves cool weather and has a similar arrangement of petals. However, it was not until I learned that Johnny jump ups and pansies are both violas, members of the same genus, that I could picture a mother holding her baby girl, and looking into that tiny face with its blue eyes. Then I could imagine my grandmother finding Viola a suitable name for a beautiful baby, her first daughter, whose future she hoped would be as blessed as any flower garden.

Violas for the garden are always being improved and I was happy to get this photo and information about Skippy KL Plum Gold, an All America Selection winner for 2008. It’s a bit more delicate than the johnny jump ups that seed themselves all over my garden, but I cannot imagine that it is any less hardy.

You can find out all about all the AAS winners at their website.

3 comments to AAS Viola

  • Lisa at Greenbow

    I can’t get violas to grow in my garden. I bring some home each spring because I love their sweet little faces.

    I want to comment on your essay about ‘silence’. I read it while trying to navigate to your blog.

    I absolutely crave silence. I live at what was the edge of a small town. The fast foods and big box stores are slowly but surely creeping to and around our neighborhood. I hate the sound of the increased traffic.

    Years ago I read an article regarding a study about noise. It showed how hard noise is on our nervous system. They told a story about a refugee that was brought here from someplace in Africa. Where he came from there was no electricity so not even any appliances to humm. He couldn’t get used to even hearing the refrigerator humming. Sometimes I feel that way.

    My favorite vacations are when we go to the mountains on the off season. It is so silent you can hear the blood coursing through your veins and I feel so much more alive.

    Thank you for writing such a touching piece about silence. You voiced many things I have felt. Obviously you have touched a chord in me. Sorry about my rant but I do feel better knowing there is a person out there that understands this need of silence.

  • commonweeder

    Lisa, thank you so much for your comments. We lived on the noisiest corner in NYC – 1st avenue and 20th St and now our house is located in the middle of 60 acres of quiet. Even the farmers who used to bring their heifers up for summer pasture used to fairly dance with the pleasure of the quiet. It is wonderful.
    I’ll get a picture of the violas up eventually. I don’t know what I was doing wrong. And I wish you luck.

  • kate

    It’s always great to see a new garden blogger. This post was a lovely one – violas are a staple in my garden. There always seem to be a few in bloom from spring to fall. I love the way they appear unexpectedly.

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