growing inspiration: violas
In my first Growing Inspiration post I wrote about nasturtiums. If there’s a flower I’ve drawn and painted more than the nasturtium, it might be the viola.
They always have a place in my garden.
And then also my studio.
I think I love them so much because they’re unassuming. Quiet and low to the ground. To truly appreciate their charms you need to get down at their eye level.
It’s easy to imagine eyes in flowers that look like faces. Another reason I can’t resist them. They tap into my imagination. They bring me a child-like joy.
Johnny Jump Ups. Heartsease. Even their names are joyful.
Like nasturtiums, violas are edible and they make a pretty addition to all sorts of food, including these spring rolls Matthias made earlier this summer.
Violas self seed in the garden and sometimes they show up in surprising places. I never know what colors those volunteers will be.
Sometimes I think they cross with pansies, too. I’ve found some flowers that are larger than violas but smaller than pansies.
Again, they ask that I slow down and get down on the ground. That I pay attention. Observe.
Something I’m always happy to do with paint (or pen or pencil or ink on a carved block).
Their colors and patterns are perfect for capturing with watercolor. (It’s such a joy I even teach how to do it here).
Because they’re some of the first flowers to show up at garden centers in the spring, they’re usually one of the first flowers I get to paint, too. Perhaps that’s one reason I’ve painted them so many times. By the end of winter I’m more than ready to paint from real flowers again.
Sometimes I’ll even bring the cells of seedlings to my studio to paint before the plants make it to the garden.
My self seeded babies show up a little later. And I’m always impatient for flowers and end up planting some new ones each year, too. I can never have enough. It’s fun to transplant the babies to other spots in the garden (they inevitably end up in the middle of my vegetables), spreading the joy so they’re just about everywhere.
Violas are so easy to grow. I plant them and then let them do their thing. Sometimes sprinkling the seeds around the garden where I want more plants and sometimes just letting them go where they want.
Late in the summer some of the plants are a little tired-looking, but I leave them to broadcast their seeds, looking forward to next year’s flowers.
How can you resist their charms? Do you grow violas, too?