And Then I Went and Spent $3.99 on a Viola

Photo by Gayla Trail  All Rights Reserved

So here’s what I did. First, I shelled out $3.99 for a viola. We’re not talking your typical 4-pack of cells for a buck here. No, we’re talking one plant. One plant that cost $3.99. One plant whose tag bragged its rareness and specialness and three dollars and ninety nine cents worthiness. There was also something about how the variety was popular 150 years ago. There was other information too but I didn’t get that far. I was sold at “popular over 150 years ago.” Because if it was popular 150 years ago then by gum that is a plant I have got to grow! I could care less about the botanical trends of the day, but the plants trends of yesteryear, I’m all over it. Next I’ll be up on the popular plants grown 200 years ago! 250! When I eventually learn the Latin names of plants listed in the 16th-century Aztec Codex there will be no stopping me!

In truth, I was also sold at “pretty flower” and “Psst. Hey you sucker. Here’s an over-priced flower you’re sure to want. Buy me!”

Not surprisingly the rare and popular one hundred and fifty year old, costing three dollars and ninety nine cents viola was found next to the wildly expensive $18.99 echeveria. This particular region of the garden centre forever to be known as the place to be avoided and the place where they put the fancy expensive shit that suckers like me are sure to buy.

So… skip ahead to the waiting in line and the exchange of money. All that time I had in which to reconsider the purchase but I went ahead anyways. Next, I placed the Most Expensive Viola There Ever Was into my bike basket along with several other plants. And somewhere between a long and precarious downhill bike ride balancing an overflowing bag on my left shoulder and a basket full of plants with my right arm, the tag came loose and sailed away never to be seen again. I have spent the last hour fruitlessly Googling search terms such as “rare pansy”, “150 year old viola variety”, “wildly expensive violas purchased by total suckers” and other search terms with no luck of unearthing the name of this plant. I’d let it go if this were your average dollar viola. However, since I paid three dollars above market value for this sucker I have got to know its name! For that kind of dough I want to be able to cuddle, hold hands, and watch movies with this thing. Without the formality there will be no opportunity to get better acquainted. How will we bond when there are only nicknames and pseudonyms between us?

In looking around the flowers look a lot like the ‘Terra Cotta’ viola but I’m just not sure. Any guesses? I will happily send a couple of big buttons to the reader who can identify this variety and end my suffering.

Update: I went back to the store this afternoon and they were all gone and the main person wasn’t there so I wasn’t even able to find out the name of the grower. To be continued….

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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22 thoughts on “And Then I Went and Spent $3.99 on a Viola

  1. Did you check back with the store where you bought it? I realized going back there in person might be too much temptation (the plants just *know* return customers, and send out “take me home too” vibes). But maybe calling and saying “Hey, I lost the tag, but it looks like this and I got it in such-and-such section”?

  2. I’ll probably swing by there tomorrow on my bike but knowing the store I don’t think they would be very helpful over the phone.

  3. There’s an escargot begonia at my farmer’s market going for $17. I keep walking past it thinking it’s the coolest thing I’ve ever seen, and thinking how certain its death would be in my care….

  4. I just wanted to let you know that I had two pairs of earings I was deabting over (both were similar to your red ones) and boom, one sold, so I hastily bought the other pair I loved. That etsy seller may very well have you to thank for selling them clean out!

  5. Dear Gayla,

    I ALWAYS love reading the posts! Keep up your great work.

    Just wanted to ask you to participate in a creative ideas contest on my blog. I am giving away three books to the idea we most love for connecting kids to nature and gardens.

    Please check my newest blog entry for details.

    Sharon Lovejoy

  6. Very pretty Viola. Sadly I do not know what variety it is to help you out. What a shame for the tag to fly away from you. I agree to just go back and look at it to know for sure.

  7. Beautiful. Hopefully the tag wasn’t stuck in the wrong pot…that would be horrible. I think your best bet is going back to the store. There has to be someone there who knows at least a little. Like what nursery grew it?

  8. I agree that there is some uncertainty with the Angel Terracottas as they seem to have some purple in them- just a few small streaks- whereas your violas don’t. Also- yours are more tiger stripy but with a water color softness. I will keep looking….

  9. I can relate… I am a sucker for succulents, even though I tend to promptly water them to death. Today I bought two, one for my office and one because I thought it looked like a cross between a smooth stone and a brain. Now I keep thinking about how it would look super cute in this planter set that I got, but only if I buy two more plants tomorrow… Argh.

  10. Wow…thanks for letting me know that that book even exists…I shall go to the library today and search for it! (Also, thanks Gayla for the Nastrium advice! Mine look leggie ;p ) funny article, I laughed at the link to “expensive shit”

  11. Okay, if it doesn’t thunderstorm (forecast calls for it) I will get back to the store and settle this once and for all.

    Van: I was hoping to link to the song itself but couldn’t find a version online.

  12. Hey what a coincidence! I was popular with the ladies about 150 years ago, and now I’m available for a lot less than $3.99… : )
    P.S. I just checked my tag, and it brags of MY rareness and specialness TOO! Wow. What are the odds of THAT?

  13. That is the prettiest color viola, I have ever seen. I have them in various shades of purple and yellow. I love these little things, I just pop them underneath other plants for the surprise. I also like the johnny jump up too.

  14. I’ve seen many people take their “unknowns” to that sweetheart of lady with the big straw hat at Fiesta Farms up on Christie. She could probably I.D. it in two blinks!

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