Saturday, 10 May 2008

Saturday Photo: The Violets of Outremont

The violets are blooming in front now. The spring progression begins with snowdrops, then scilla, followed by daffodils, tulips, violets, forget-me-nots and columbine, in that order. It's taken a number of years to arrive at a point when there is something in bloom from the start of spring (whenever that is) until early summer.

After that--well, it depends upon the year. The progression in late summer is almost right, with rudebeckia, michaelmass daisies and the like but in the middle of the summer I haven't found the right combination of plants to have something always in bloom. The fact that the big maples block sunshine doesn't help: there actually is more sun in the fall because the sun in lower in the sky and so shines under the leaves in late afternoon.

But a garden is always a work in progress. Last fall I planted bulbs a little early--lots of daffodils, I thought. But my tulips are lovely: I think I bought the wrong thing without knowing it! The encouraging thing is that the squirrels didn't eat the bulbs and so far haven't attacked the flowers either. In back it is another story, as there are more squirrels as well as some maurading skunks and racoons. One of the day lilies must be particularly succulent because some critter nibbled off the tops of the leaves as they emerged from the ground. And this is the middle of the city!

Just a note: there is no relation between African violets and the common violet found outdoors in North America. The former are genus saintpaulia (after Baron Walter von Saint Paul-Illaire who sent them back to German from the East Usambara mountains of what is now Tanzania) while the latter are genus viola. The ones growing in my garden are the descendants of three plants I got from a neighbor who had them growing in her lawn. Their colour ranges from year to year: sometimes violet, sometimes mauve, blue or even white. But always a pleasure to see.

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