Monthly Archives: November 2012

Use Your Weeds! Violets as Groundcover

IMG_9896_2It’s funny how people tend to hate violets so much..maybe because they seed into lawns? I know that violets can be voracious growers in some soils, but if violets grow in your yard, instead of scorning them as an unwanted weed, why not find a use for them? Violets are a native plant, pretty in bloom and beneficial to wildlife (it’s the sole host plant for fritillary butterfly caterpillars), so why not encourage them to grow in a spot where you need something low-maintenance to cover the ground?

DCF 1.0Common blue marsh violets (Viola cucullata) love the moist soil on parts of our farm and in places, they grow to epic size.

So….I use their weedy nature to my advantage…I transplanted clumps to use as a no-fuss edging plant for my raised vegetable beds:

violets raised bed IMG_9762

They bloom early in the year before the veggies are planted, but grow so quickly that by mid summer, as you can see, they cover the wooden edges completely:

violets raised beds late summer IMG_0550

Another useful spot I found for blue violets is on the very edge of our horse paddock, just above the pond – I can’t take credit for this idea because nature planted the violets on her own, but it makes a perfect “filter” buffer to intercept horse waste (nutrients from manure and urine) and prevent it from leaching into the pond. I’m sure I couldn’t cultivate anything here and have it survive so a violet “border” is perfect – thanks mother nature!violets paddock weed

 

Later in the summer, the violets start to extend well into the gravel pathway but once a season we hack them back to keep the path open. I love when problems solve themselves with very little effort from me! That’s my kind of gardening..

foamflower violets medium IMG_2817

Common blue marsh violets mingle beautifully with other spring bloomers in moist soil near our pond. Whatever your soil type, there’s a type of native violet that probably thrives in your garden…