Violets as Dr. Jekyll
Elizabeth’s valentine this week to sweet violet–and the yes, no, yes comments that followed–reminded me why one-size-fits-all gardening advice is such a crock. Two years ago, I wrote a post defending viola odorata as "the world’s prettiest edging plant." Which it remains in my front yard, blooming with the tulips and looking charming and declining to interfere with the front flower bed’s deeper regions, while still filling out the hell strip nicely.
Violets as Mr. Hyde
In the back, however, which is slightly shadier, it is inserting itself parasitically into other perennials, seeding at a scary rate, and threatening to turn the whole place into a sweet little monoculture. Two years ago, the front-yard gardener said, "They’re lovely. Not at all invasive." But if you spoke this year to the woman who gardens in the backyard, she’d say, "I think they’d be really nice…in the alley next to the garbage can."
The only advice that’s worth anything is local. Really, really local.