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Violas are a beautiful flowering group of plants, and I think they represent a very good purchase for this time of year. Many of the garden centres are now stocking trays of these, many of which have been brought on to flower and of course to attract potential purchasers. My advice is to purchase those not yet in flower as they will last longer.
Most gardeners enjoy colour throughout the year, and violas in particular will provide this, and in my experience they often do slightly better than pansies, in terms of blooming, even through the depths of winter. I have found they are much more wind resistant as they have smaller flowers so will bloom constantly.
I first became interested in violas when I was a young child. My father always pointed out the faces of the flowers, and he used to say they were smiling at me. I can see what he meant all these years later; as if you look carefully at the flower petals they are like the features of a face. In fact the way they appear is magnificent with stunning colours and intricate patterns.
The reason I grow them now in my garden is for use in salads, and I have pots and pots of them in delightful colours which I pick daily to enhance my salad bowls providing colour and interest! Many people are unaware that you can in fact eat the petals, and they certainly brighten up greenery all through the autumn and winter months if you select the right varieties.
In my experience they will flower more prolifically if they have sunshine, but will tolerate a degree of shade. They dislike being fried though so watch south facing patios, especially in Indian summers and keep containers watered. Don't plant them in total shade though as they will not floursh or flower.
I find it hard to believe that Universal pansies only came commercially available in 1979 with their ability to flower during mild winters. I think more than anything it was this revolution which made gardeners even more aware of what you could grow to give colour on miserable autumnal days. The new varieties of violas, for over wintering have also introduced choice and variety, making endless possibilities for providing winter colour.
When you plant them bear in mind that they open with the sun and the light, so make sure the flowers face you when you look at them from your place of shelter. I have mine in tubs outside the lounge window. The most important aspect of their care in my opinion is to take off the flowers as soon as they have finished, because this encourages new growth. You just pinch with your finger and thumb and discard the dead petal. In my case I don't need to do this as I am constantly cropping for the table, which also acts as a catalyst for new growth. It isn't unusual for me to a strip a plant at dusk, only to find it festooned in blooms the next morning!
You should also ensure a well drained soil, as what they dislike is to have soggy roots. Lots of organic matter and good quality compost will ensure success.
The choice of colours is extensive. You can choose mixed varieties which incorporate yellow and purple, and there are also new varieties now which have pastel shades. These are gorgeous and their confetti like petals make a very tasteful display.
In my experience you can buy these plants inexpensively at places like B&Q, where I have been impressed by their choice. I also like to visit independent garden centres and markets, as these offer the best chance of finding unusual varieties and colours. Look out for "Ruby Lights" a lovely mixed variety with vibrant colours.
So what if you fancy growing your own from seed? Well it isn't difficult! I have even sown them outside as I don't currently have a greenhouse. You can be successful in spring and all through the summer until early September in the south of England. One variety I really love is called HEARTSEASE or WILD PANSY. These are really pretty violas and the flowers look beautiful in salads. I have purchased excellent seed for these from Suffolk Herbs at www.suffolkherbs.com. They have a lovely purple and yellow face and are easy to grow.
Thompson and Morgan sell beautiful plug plants ready to plant out in October over at www.thompson-morgan.com, where they have some really vibrant colours to choose from.
I love these flowers and feel they add something to my garden and my salads. They are a welcome sight on a sunny autumn morning. Sometimes they will flower less as winter approaches, but will have a second blooming period as spring begins. You really can get months of flowers for a small cost. In addition you can surprise the family with colourful salads adorned with petals!
Then you can plant different varieties in the spring which will bloom alongside these hardy plants, which often keep going much longer than winter's end.
You don't even need a garden to make a winter viola salad. Just buy a large pot and fill with winter lettuce, mizuna, or salad leaves, which are all available from garden centres and then pop in some viola plants. Not only will you have some autumn colour but you will have the joy of being able to pick your own tea!
Picture a pansy, then think miniature and you will have captured the image of the viola. I love them, they are a dwarf perennial that bloom from March right through to October.
Pansies are very attractive, they offer colour and their smiling faces cheer you up on the dullest of days. Whereas pansies tend to be a little more unruly viola`s are neat and delicate little plants often with plenty of flower.
Last year we mixed some viola plants in with some other Summer bedding in planters and the result was spectacular. The flowers went on and on offering great value for money besides being an eye catching display.
There are many different types and colours of Viola, blues, pinks, purple, lemon and magenta to name a few and many offer an interesting combination of colour too.
Viola plants are a popular bedding plant and the garden centres offer them at very reasonable prices. If you are thinking of planting some in tubs or pots then make sure that they are situated in a shady place, direct sunlight will burn their leaves and flowers. Viola`s love damp ground and if they are treated well they will repay you by doubling or maybe trebling their size, they are a sociable plant and are happy to link up with anything else that may be growing beside them.
Dead heading is a fiddly job at the best of times but if you dead head the viola`s it will pay dividends. As the Summer months pass the plants might start to look a little worse for wear, don't be tempted to throw the towel in, just trim them back and in no time they will spring back into life offering you new growth that will flower again given time.
The viola`s act as a magnet to aphids and slugs adore them! I was lucky last year, my slug defence barrier seemed to work well for once!
Viola`s have other uses besides being bewitching little blooms, the perfumiers use them for fragrance, the confectioner uses them for liqueurs , they are crystallised and used as cake decorations and being rich in vitamins A and C are used in Chinese medicine to make a herbal tea.
The Viola is often one of the first bedding plants to be found on display. there is a big temptation to buy the plants that are already in full bloom but in reality it is more sensible to buy the lush green plants with little bloom, they will serve you for longer.
When you get the plants home and are ready to transplant them into either tubs or the garden then handle them with the greatest of care, rather than try to pull them from their packaging by the stems then push them up from the bottom. Viola`s need to be planted six to eight inches apart to allow them to multiply.
Viola`s are low maintainence, they offer good value for money and are exquisite.
Think of violets and the colour purple comes to mind, but these plants come in a variety of wonderful hues including deep blues, magenta, even yellow and cream. They are beautiful flowers which is no doubt why it was once considered the height of fashion to wear a sprig of violets and they were sported by Royalty and celebrities of the day over a hundred years ago. Nowadays they are more popular as plants for borders and rockeries. They are hardy perennials and related to the Pansy which is shorter lived. There are hundreds of varieties which grow in many different parts of the world. Many violets flower from Spring through to Autumn with some varieties putting on a display all year long.
How to Grow Viola:
Viola prefer cool to warm climates. They can wilt in hot summers so partial shade is recommended in hot areas.They like humus-rich soil with plenty of well-rotted manure added when planting in the spring but they do tolerate a variety of soils. They don't require a lot of feeding but for best results add a general purpose fertilizer when planting them, then offer a weak liquid feed in Summer.
Once Viola are established, they usually grow really well, even if left to themselves. They should be well weeded of course and the soil is best kept moist but not wet. Deadheading spent blooms will encourage additional flowering, and extend the blooming period. Viola tend not to have many problems with insects or disease but keep an eye out for aphids and use a treatment to stop them increasing.
It's the time of year to start sowing seeds and getting the garden ready for the spring and summer. The reviews I have done about herbs went down really well and a lot of feedback of people was great. Seems people where printing them out and saving them for future reference.
It nice to know I can help and I also enjoy knowing people like reading my reviews about herbs.
Viola - viola VIOLACEAE
I know your thinking Viola is it an herb?
I was surprised I have been growing it in my front garden for the last 7 years as I love its lovely colours, it's a great looking flower that seems to last for ages. Did you know these small wild pansies always turn to face the sun?
Violas where made famous by Shakespeare in Midsummer Night's Dream, and there are lots of references in romantic poetry as they where used as a love potion.
Viola tricolor is a hardy perennial which is grown as a annual, this is because it produces its best flowers in its first year, It can grown to a height of 15 inches and spread about the same. The flowers are like a small pansy which varies in colour with blue, yellow, white, purple and black petals. The viola flowers throughout the summer until we hit the first frosts.
Sow seeds in autumn in seed trays or pots and cover with a thin layer of perlite or sieved soil, and place in a cold frame for the winter.
Germination will occur by the following spring and when large enough to handle plant out direct. Established plants can be divided in the autumn and planted in prepared site.
Viola is a self seeding plant and grows well in all types of soil conditions, but viola hates waterlogged sites.
They prefer to be planted in full sun but will grow well in partial shade, the will grow quiet happy in containers and look well in an herb garden. (But don't forget they self-seed)
To keep colour throughout the summer deadhead the flowers and pinch out the growing tips. Cut back in autumn to encourage new growth and to help survive the winter months.
Violas are used as a detoxifying herb to treat whooping cough, bronchitis, skin diseases and arthritis. An infusion made with the stems, flowers and leaves will soothe itching skin, this need to be a cold infusion then bathe the area affected.
An infusion of the flowers only are supposed to mend a broken heart, when added to the bath it helps aches and pains
***How to make a tea infusion***
1 teaspoon or 1 tablespoon of herbs in a tea pot
1 cup of boiling water
1, Boil the water
2, Put the herbs into the cup/pot
3, Poor the boiled water over the herbs
4, Cover the cup or pot
5, Wait 5-10 minuets
6, Pour the infusion through sieve
7, Drink the tea in small sips
8, Add honey to taste if you need to
9, Put the old herbs on he compost bin
The flowers are edible and can be added to salads.
This was a very strange one I read about.
A cold infusion of the flowers, leaves and stems is diluted in drinking water and given to racing pigeons help them to fly faster?
Taking in large doses it can cause vomiting and nausea and diarrhea
As with all herbal medicine do your researches before you use it!
Thanks for reading my reviews, and thank you for rating them.
Tashi Delek (May everything be well)
enlightened_one © 2008