After all the rain, this week feels like the payoff. Trees are budding and flowering; daffodils and tulips are blooming. It’s a riot of color that makes me smile as I walk through the neighborhood. I stop at one flowerbed to take a closer look because it’s got something rare: violets. I hardly ever see violets anymore, but here they are clearly planted on purpose. Violets bring back lots of memories, including a bizarre woodland escapade.
My mom loves violets. When I was growing up, our garden always had them, strewn all over the beds; some solid purple, and others a mix of purple and white. Violets would also pop up in the grass, or next to bushes, not unlike the way dandelions punctuate a lawn. There were so many violets, we could pick a big fat bouquet, and never seem to get them all. Grandma also loved violets, so any time she visited us in the spring, we made sure to have a vase of them in the kitchen.
The house I grew up in had lots of plantings that were well developed when we moved in. We hardly ever planted anything new in those beds, but mom did lots of thinning and replanting, especially of the monkey grass which grew all over everything, and the day lilies. However, there were a couple of notable plants we added to the garden.
We visited Bernheim Forest, south of Louisville, one weekend, strolled through the shaded paths, and admired the plants that thrive in the forest. Tucked in the understory was a Jack in the Pulpit – an interesting looking plant, kind of like a lily, with a leaf forming a protective “roof” over the flower. And near by was the unicorn of flowering plants, a rare white violet. It was surrounded with other violets of the normal shade, but we’d never seen a white one before.
I don’t know what came over us that day, but we dug up the Jack in the Pulpit and the white violet, brought them home, and tucked them into a shady spot in our garden. They survived the move and looked like they had always been there. Each spring when the Jack in the Pulpit unfurled, and the white violet reappeared, I wondered if that siren wail in the distance was meant for us.