Thursday, March 24, 2011


I'm a fan of all types of violets.

Grandma Rice had a prolific bunch of African violets growing in her "north window". They were big plants with beautifully-colored blossoms. In fact, every time I see an African violet, I think of her. Over the years, I've probably bought ten plants and never got one to live for even a month, but I keep trying; same thing with kites and those bottles of bubbles for kids. Every time I swear 'I am not buying them ever again", but they keep making me a liar. One of our judges has a gorgeous selection of African violets. I asked her the secret, and she said you need to put them in containers made just for African violets, something like a double-potted arrangement. Of course, they're by her window on the north side of the building....

Grandma also had some tiny little violets growing around the bottom of her big bushes outside the "east window." She told me that the more you pick them, the faster they grow. That's probably not a scientific fact, and it's possible she hated them and wanted them gone, but I picked them regularly and they kept coming. They smelled as wonderful as her lilacs. She had two shades of purple lilacs and one white lilac bush. Oh my, they were fabulous! We used to put the little single lilac flowers up to our noses and inhale as long as possible (no doubt a well-developed skill from Dad's "breathing game.") As long as you sucked in, the little flowers stayed in place. Also, they had a little sweet flavor at the base of the bloom. Hummingbirds probably dreamed of visiting Grandma to taste that sweetness. She also had some Lilies of the Valley, which were fascinating.

Mother used to grow what she called Johnny Jump Ups. I thought they were baby pansies and didn't realize they were actually violets until I got some at Lowe's one year. They were beautiful all summer...and fall...and winter. They were almost indestructible. They stayed in bloom through several snowstorms. One January, they were still there and the weather hadn't been up to past freezing for weeks. I wondered if they were some psycho plant come back to haunt me. Finally they gave up, so I bought some more the next year. They shriveled and died. None of them Jumped Up at all.

The flowers that seem to do well in this soil are marigolds and petunias. They're beautiful together and flower the whole summer. Both of them smell yucky, but that's what roses are for, right?

Must have spring fever!

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