Violets Galore

The new yard came with violets… lots and lots of violets. They’re blooming now and even though the yard continues to look like the excavation site of a dead body on a television police procedural…

I’m in heaven.

I have longed to have the space to grow enough violets to make cheerful springtime jellies. A few years ago I set about making this dream real by installing white and purple violet plants into a shady corner of my community garden plot. I began growing them in a large trough on the roof, too. Then we moved here and I inherited a yard of them.

Between all of these locations I should have more than enough to candy, make my jellies, and eat fresh in salads. I like the young leaves, too. Of course, we are currently in the process of digging up the yard, but I’ve been careful to dig around the violets and set each one (barring a few casualties) for replanting. I plan to carefully extract the plants from the grass that is growing around them, and replant them into their own swath along with the three other colour varieties I have collected over the last few years. You think I’m crazy for taking so much care with a plant that spreads like a weed, but I can’t wait for you to see it.

Man, do I ever love having a yard.

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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28 thoughts on “Violets Galore

  1. Oh wow they are so beautiful!! I would love to have some naturalize in my lawn – right now all I have are muscari and dandelions. Excited to see the jellies when you make them!

  2. I have violets in a couple areas of my yard, too, and I’m hoping they’ll keep spreading.

    I tried candying a few violets for my daughter’s birthday cake and they just kind of shriveled up on me while they were drying. They definitely didn’t look the way they’re supposed to! I’ll have to try it again.

  3. I was so intrigued by your mention of violet jelly, I searched for recipes. If you have a proven one you like to use, could you please share it? THANKS for all you do!

  4. It’s funny to read how excited you are to see violets in your yard – ’cause you know they’re a “weed”! They will spread and they’re pretty hardy suckers. Just break off pieces of the rhizome and sprinkle in the areas you want them to go. The next year you should have more violets.

  5. Brandi: I’ve never had enough flowers to make a jelly so this will be my trial run.

    Ryan: I do indeed know that it is an aggressive spreader and very easy to grow… I mentioned that in the last paragraph of this post. I also mentioned that I am still excited anyway.

  6. Are violas different from violets? I’ve been saying those interchangeably and realizing that’s probably not correct.

    Also, would love to see any recipes you have for violet jelly!

  7. Violet Jelly! Yes PLEASE share a recipe I have never heard of such a thing! With the exception of candying them I had never heard of anything else that one did with them besides admire how beautiful they are!

  8. last year i did the same thing with the violets in my allotment & just noticed the first ones are up – i’m hoping the others i dug up & transplanted made it so i can make more violet syrup to add to sweeten & perfume the water i’ll be drinking while i weed away this month

  9. This makes me think of my grandparents house in southern rural Illinois when I was a kid. My grandmother loved that about 1/3 of the grass in the yard was taken over by violets, and she’d refuse to let my grandfather mow the lawn when they started blooming. This led to epic amounts of sighing on his part, and he’d finally get frustrated and try to mow around the violets – but whoa be him if my grandmother believed his mower accidentally decapitated a few purple flowers. Memory made me smile.

  10. I feel the same way about violets–I’ve been letting them grow and spread in our yard, this year we’ve had salads with the leaves and I picked a few flowers and have them in honey for hot tea. They’re so good for you and so pretty. Plus I’m a fan of having a yard full of plants that don’t need mowing. Spread your roots, little violets! Run amok!

  11. That’s wonderful Gayla. I’m so enjoying reading all about your new garden development, especially since 40% of my garden is still under snow or still too wet to dig.

  12. What a nice surprise for you then! It’s always exciting to see what waits for you in an “empty” garden – something left by previous owners or mother nature to say welcome to you. :)

    We are way after violets here, but if you had some free time (winter?), I would also subscribe for your violet jelly recipe!

  13. I love violets. They roam freely in my gardens. My two favourites right now are both native wildflowers: Labrador Violet (Viola labradorica) and a charming yellow wood violet that I think is Viola rotundifolia (bought several years ago at a NANPS plant sale). They are forming charming colonies in my woodland front yard. Look forward to reading about your violet jelly. The colour should be amazing.

  14. I am going to be your 10th reader who requests violet recipes. Violet is my favorite scent, bar none….I can’t wait to see what you do with your new backgarden!

  15. Gayla, I’m so happy that you have a yard! Yay!! Being an apartment dweller for the last 13 years, I have always longed for a yard. I am thankful for what patch of dirt my landlord has let me claim and take over, but nothing quite compares. I can’t wait to see what you do with it all!

  16. Glad to hear someone else loves violets. My husband picks on me for moving “weeds” out of his lawn and into my herb garden.

  17. As I said before, you inspired me! I went out this weekend and painstakingly picked the required heaping 2 cups of blossoms. Having made the delightful jelly, I declare: I will be making more of this. I made it in the smallest jelly jars I could find as it is a delicate flavor and is not likely to be consumed in larger quantities as a berry jelly would be. THANK YOU for your constant gardening inspiration!

  18. Ciao Gayla-

    Wow, that’s so interesting that yours are blooming already. Mine are really behind this year. Everything’s behind schedule. The daffodils are at peak now and the tulips just started opening.

  19. I love it! My own lawn here in Napa has the exact same look along with the tree shaded field right off my back yard is just loaded with Violets. Now my escaped Blue Star Creeper has blanketed my lawn on the opposite side! Any grass left? who cares! Thanks CallieK for the recipe! I must have enough viola out there!

  20. They look great.As an Australian living in the UK I love the term yard.The australian climate offered so many possibilities for growing all sorts of plants,the UK doesn’t quite have the climate for alot of diversity.
    Still it’s getting toward summer here so we can look forward to some warm weather and gorgeous gardens!

  21. Thank you so much for posting above photo. I just found out that my hubby moved the lawn last week full of “Purple” Violets and complaint that the weeds have taken over his lawn. I sure will go out there tomorrow and dig whatever roots left to put in my garden area. I also noticed other areas in our property have color “Yellow” and “Blue” Violets.

  22. Thanks for this amazing information, we just moved into our first home and the yard has oodles of violets, now I know they are not only gorgeous but edible! I also have another prolific guest which I am unfamiliar with, it’s two tone green leaves are a narrow heart shape and as it’s gotten warmer it’s produce lovely flowers that resemble a smaller version of queen Ann’s lace. I grew up in Florida and now live near Portland, Or. so I am not as familiar with the local flora.

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