Gardening inspiration!
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Forgotten fragrance!

High 30 F
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Viola odorata 'Rosea'
This weekend I picked up Henry Mitchell's book,  On Gardening. Many of you are familiar with this book which is a compilation of Mitchell's gardening essays which he wrote for 'The Washington Post' as a weekly feature writer.  They are delightful to read and full of reflection, fact and humor.  I turned to his first February post titled' Roses are Red, but Violets are Bloomin' Lovely'.  'Parma violets' are the first two words of this essay and while he says he thinks that they are somewhat sinister, I, an intrepid gardener, had never heard of Parma violets.  What ensued was a frenzied internet search which revealed a couple of sources for this heretofore unheard of violet and also turned up another promise of fragrance, Viola odorata, a hardy violet.  Fragrance!  I remember violet perfume from my childhood and, even then, wondered about the scent.  It was sweet, a bit cloying as perfume can be, not fresh like a flower.  No violets I picked were scented! I had no frame of reference for the perfume and thought it was named because of the color. Not like the Lily of the Valley perfume which comes to mind as there is a perfume which steals the breath from a room compared to the wonderfully sweet scent of the flowers in bloom!  I digress, back to violets.  There were many violets around.  I used to pick bunches of solid purple and the blue and white ones for my Mom on Mother's Day but they had absolutely no fragrance.  What they did have was a stem which fit, oh so delicately and perfectly, in a child's hand.  I have many violets in my garden now.  I weed them out constantly with the knowledge that there will always be some to seed and reseed and I can never completely eradicate them.  I've searched my picture files for one picture of a violet in the garden but since it is so common I guess I just didn't snap that photo. After the internet search I was incapable of sitting on the knowledge that fragrant violets were available at the local, for me, mail order and retail nursery, Logee's.  They also had Parma violet listed for sale but the cultivar 'Marie Louise'  was out of stock.  I took the drive, about twelve miles.  I searched and asked and finally, I did find Dsc_0049 Viola odorata rosea and Viola odorataDsc_0003 nestled on a bench in the cool and oh so humid greenhouse.  As I picked them off the bench I anticipated fragrance but was knocked over by the instant travel back in time experience of standing, eye level with the perfume counter at the local drugstore sniffing the bottle of violet perfume. The scent  is heavenly akin to that sweet pea fragrance which eludes description.   I have visions of a field of scented violets.  Do you think the scent will offset the apparent flaw of invasiveness?  Only time will tell.

Layanee

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