God knew what He was doing when He sent a gentle breeze and brought a lovely butterfly to set my heart at ease. The happiness of your friendship and the gentleness of your words have touched my life in special ways and now I feel assured. Thank you for your loyalty and for reading everyday. I only hope you find things to make a happy day.
Monday, May 4, 2009
Our State Flower in My Woods at Last
Botanical name: Violet viola.
Proclaimed the state flower of Illinois in 1908.
The violet was selected after a 1907 vote taken among Illinois schoolchildren for their favorite flower. They also elected the Native Oak as state tree at the same time.
Violet Trivia: When smelling a violet, one whiff is all you get. Its scent contains ionone, a chemical that temporarily desensitizes the nose.
Growing in abundance throughout Illinois, violets are a natural choice as the Illinois state flower. There are so many varieties of the flower in the state of Illinois, no one knows which the schoolchildren had in mind when they selected it, but it hardly seems likely that it mattered then, and surely it matters even less now. Every type of violet is a lovely, and well-loved flower, whether growing in Aurora, or Chicago or anywhere in the state’s great farmlands.
The most recognizable and widespread of the native violets in Illinois is the dooryard violet, as it is easy to grow anywhere, in full sunlight or in shade. Most of the 400 to 500 species of wildflower violets found around the world prefer moist, shaded areas, often growing beneath hedges where they are protected.
The dooryard violet is one of the more interesting violets as it does something quite unusual in the world of plants: it produces two different types of flowers at two different times of year.
In spring these violets produce the large recognizable flowers you always see in photos and wildflower guidebooks. The petals of the Illinois state flower are actually edible and are often covered with sugar and used as cake decorations. After these have bloomed, the violet produces small, closed flowers that look more like mere buds, closer to the ground on shorter stems. These flowers produce most of the violet plant’s seeds.
You can find violets that are purple (like the violet color the flower is named for) and in many other shades such as light blue, yellow, white, cream and in two-tones varieties as well.
Depending on the variety, violets can be a perennial, an annual, a shrub or a small plant, but always with the recognizable shape of the main flower that we know and love.
Adding to the violet’s popularity is its long flowering season. Its flowers can be seen throughout Illinois almost all spring and summer long. It’s also hugely popular with many varieties of insects that thrive on the nutritious flowers and leaves of the Nevada state flower.
In many parts of the country, some flowers in the violet family are called pansies. But in Illinois, of course, a violet is a violet.
We had no violets here, when I moved in. I brought a pot of ferns to transplant here and there was a yellow violet in the pot too. I have kept that violet in my side garden. I really doesn't spread much...just a few more plants. Something happened this spring...violets are here. We have them in the woods now. I sprinkled wildflower seeds there the last two years and I think that this is the reason. I know they can be invasive and a lot of gardeners don't like them. I just have a soft place in my heart for these little purple flowers. A bouquet of violets and lilies of the valley in a small vase...what could be nicer?