Violets, Dandelions, and Little Purple Flowers

No one like dandelions … but the bees love them and they make a delicious wine. Violets are considered weeds too, but I love them and they have a wonderful smell. The little purple pansy like flowers grow everywhere and I have yet to figure out exactly what they are or where they come from. Anyone out there recognize them?

We don’t cut the back lawn until the violets and dandelions are gone for the year.

22 thoughts on “Violets, Dandelions, and Little Purple Flowers

  1. Pingback: The Joys of making Violet and Dandelion Jelly | Start to be Healthy Now

  2. They look like “Viola Tricolor” a naturalized cousin of Viola Odorata, or our standard wild Violets. They are also known as Hearts Ease, wild Pansies , and many other names. Often they have variations of yellow, white and purple, but not always. That would be my guess for your “little purple flowers”. Dan

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    • Thank very much. It has been surprisingly difficult to get information on wildflowers. I got several books, but the illustrations are not good enough to let me distinguish between the several kinds of little purple flowers that seem to grow everywhere in New England. Violets are easy … distinctive leaves and scent … but that one and there’s one other that’s more of a creeper, same color. I don’t know whether it’s an escapee from the garden or a wild creeper that’s taken over the garden. Our garden is a mix of wildflowers — spiderwort, solomon’s seal, violets, tiger lilies (those ARE escapees originally, but now they grow everywhere), wild strawberries and the biggest pest of all, blackberries which totally choke access to our woods in the summer. The birds and squirrels are happy, but I myself have never actually seen a blackberry!

      I have at least two other people who will be happy to discover there might be a name for those flowers. All of us leave them in our gardens because they are pretty and they do look like little wild pansies, so that makes sense. They are much smaller than their cultivated cousins, but they are the same shape flower and about the same texture as a pansy, maybe a bit more velvety. And must shorter in the stem. Not a creeper, but would make a nice border for the garden if we had the strength of character to fend of the pink-eyed grass that takes over the front gardens in July after the lilies die back. In the back, the lilies domination has been total, having finally choked out the hollyhocks and every other flowering plant we tried to grow. Our lilies are often six or seven feet tall. Gorgeous, but the season is so short. After that, they are just green. They do, however completely block all other possible invading plants so I’ll not complain. If I want flowers, that’s what pots on the deck are for!

      What do you mean by “naturalized?” That we (humans) have had a hand in changing them by selective breeding? We live in the country and the wildflowers around here — some might call them weeds — are very aggressive. Years ago, we made our peace with them. We cut them back when they try to invade the lawn, such as it is, but as long as they bloom, there’s no reason not to let them share the garden. We are under a canopy of oak trees from mid May through late Autumn, so wild flowers are the only plants other than goat’s beard and some varieties of astilbe that will grow in deep shade.

      Do you know of a book that actually has illustrations sufficiently clear to tell one plant from another? A wild flower version of my Audubon bird books would be great!!

      Thanks again!

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      • Hi. By naturalized I mean i am not sure if they are of native origin or came with us from Europe and other continents. A VERY large percent of plants we consider to grow here “naturally” are considered “aliens” , Plantain, St. John’s Wort, really a long list. I wouldn’t be surprised if Dandelions and Violets were not native to our areas, but Naturalized. Made themselves at home.
        As far as the best book, I don’t think I can say i have found one yet. I use a collection of books on plants and try to cross reference between them. If you can find a book that has “keys” or scientific descriptions of differences that distinguish one species from another, where they grow, how they grow and the smaller differences that elude a casual glance, it helps, because as you say, visually many simply look the same unless you look really close and beyond the surface. The internet is a great help that way but there is no way around the legwork and really getting to know each plant intimately. Make them personal relationships and the rest will follow.
        Dan

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        • I know our “native” tiger lilies originated in India. The only ones I’m sure are native are Solomon’s Seal and Indian Pipe. I lived in Israel for a decade and was amused to realize that the sabra cactus, the “national plant symbol” is actually a descendent of the prickly pear cactus of our American southwest, brought there by missionaries in the 1600s. I’m not sure anyone knows for sure what came from where or when it was intentionally or accidentally introduced.

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          • I know!! I too spent a decade or so in Israel and when I discovered that same bit of information about the Sabra, that the national plant and such a deeply rooted symbol of Israeli attitude and character was an import, it was, at the time, a shock! We claim things, countries, plants etc. but seems like Nature makes no such distinctions, which is probably a good thing.
            I didn’t know that Tiger lilies originated in India! Very cool, thanks for that.

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            • When were you in Israel? I was there from the end of 1978 through late 1987. The last of the “good old days.” I lived in Jerusalem.

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            • I lived in Rehovot and Eilat for while from ’66 till 1980. Did my army stint in 73. My family is still there so I try to visit as often as i can. Were you studying/ working/living all the above while you were there?
              Jerusalem is beautiful. But man traffic and driving were a nightmare when i was there in February!!!

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            • I was living. I think I read Exodus too many times as a youngster.

              I got married. Adopted a couple of kids. Raised my son (he came with me). Marriage didn’t work out (understatement); came back to the US. It was also economically a very very bad time in Israel. I had worked for four companies in a row that went bankrupt while I was there.

              I worked at the Weizmann and commuted from Jerusalem for a couple of years. At the time, commuting was considered crazy, but now apparently it’s normal. I was back there on business in Sept 2011 (a couple of days before the attacks here) and was kind of horrified. The water is bad and the congestion is horrendous. They’ve built on every place they could, cutting down all the olive groves and eliminating the open space in and around Jerusalem. I want the Jerusalem I had, not the Jerusalem of right now. It was so beautiful … with all the problems, my heart belongs to that city on the mountain.

              I was 30 when I came to Israel, so my studying was done. I was a writer. I wrote for JP and Youth Aliyah (propaganda and stuff to entice tourists to the beaches etc.), wound up doing technical writing because journalism was not paying the bills. It’s really where I got started as a tech writer and got my basic training in systems analysis and data base design.

              I dream in Hebrew, which is weird. I never spoke it well, but in my sleep, I’m fluent. Apparently it’s in my brain, but won’t come out my mouth.

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            • I know what you mean by dreaming in Hebrew! I’m surprised it still continues, must be a very deep connection, maybe what drew you there in the first place.
              Yes it has all changed so much!! The whole country. After 10 years of being away it was hard to recognize Rehovot! I visited Jerusalem for the first time in 35 years in February it really had changed drastically. You are right they have just been cramming people in there at any cost. It’s sad :-(.
              My dad worked at the Weizman institute for a few years. We uses ro steal Mangos from over the tall fences on warm summer nights as a teenager. Doing our own research :).
              Everyone commutes now, new highways everywhere! An electric train in Jerusalem. It was kind of bizzare and Jerusalem was not the highlight of my trip!! Unfortunately and sadly.
              Things change, for better or worse. We can only hope that somehow if we wait long enough they will prove to be changes for the better. Somehow..
              I did however really enjoy the dead sea this time round and surprised myself with some nice shots using an Iphone.

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            • I found the changes hard to stomach. The destruction of thousand year old olive groves to build prefab housing … I understand the housing shortage, but the complete lack of any kind of aesthetic sense was a big disappointment. After all those years of turning Jerusalem into a magical city, they undid the whole thing in a couple of decades. Sad. I’m not sure they can back away from it. Once people are living in those buildings, you can’t just go and bulldoze them and build something nicer, at least not in Israel. Here, they do it all the time, but there, you don’t push people out of their homes without providing new ones. Or maybe that’s changed too. I truly loved living in Israel, loved the history, the people, the ghosts in the stones of the old walls, the magic. But I don’t want to go back. What are left of my memories, I’d like to keep.

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  3. Whenever I think of dandelion wine, I think of the late, great Ray Bradbury. When I think of violets, I automatically think of my Granny Knox; she must have had about 20 different varieties in 20 different pots! Great memory provoking one mate! :-D

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    • I was surprised to discover that people consider violets a pest. I love them and give them free reign in the gardens. I no long do much to the gardens beyond trying to contain them so they don’t completely block the walkways and leave us a little room to put some lawn chairs out when the weather is nice. Like now. The weather is absolutely GLORIOUS.

      I tried to use the dandelion greens in salads and things. There was no reason not to try since we don’t spray, nor does the town. But I think one must develop a taste for them. They are too bitter for most palates. A little dandelion goes a long way. The fiddlehead ferns make great eating, but I don’t have the heart to cut them. They are so beautiful. I too think immediately of Ray Bradbury. He didn’t write a lot of books, but everything he wrote made a really deep impression. Today is a “get out there with a camera” day! Spring is so fleeting in New England. We are actually having spring this year. Many years, we go straight from winter to summer and are lucky if we get a day or two in between. Maybe it’s some kind of karmic apology for the long bitter winter.

      I have a website to recommend. Actually, two. I think you and probably your whole movie crowd should take a look. These are heavy hitters in the classic movie genre. Garry is about to meet people who can go toe to toe with him :-)

      Riding the High Country (reviews and commentary) – http://livius1.wordpress.com/

      Hawkswill — She JUST started, but wow, great stuff … HER name is Keith, do not be deceived (I was!) … http://hawkswill.wordpress.com/

      Authors, historians, movie buffs and really great erudite (but not stuffy) writing. Yay.

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        • Oh I figured you were gonna like them:-) This is how we have all connected … one of us finding a great site and telling the others about it. I figure you’ll pass it on too. It makes blogging fun and makes our world a bigger better place, don’t you think? I’m so physically limited … and poor … that I have no choice but to do most of my socializing virtually. I shudder to imagine how isolated I would be in a world without computers and the Internet!

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    • It’s not much of a lawn. It was planted a couple of years ago and for one year, we had grass. Then the violets and dandelions took over and they are so bright and pretty, we gave up on a real lawn and let them have their way with us. We live so far out in the country, it’s not like the neighbors are going to notice. They don’t have lawns either :-)

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