In past posts I’ve made it clear that I don’t want common violets (Viola odorata) on Poison Ivy Acres. I will periodically spot a flowering plant or two in the spring, and I am quick to dig it out. They have deep, thick roots so just a quick tug doesn’t do the job. The plants I’ve dug get put in the garbage, not in the compost. Good riddance to bad rubbish.
There is, however, a violet that I love and welcome to my gardens. I have found that Labrador violets are a perfect “plays well with others” plant in my shade garden. And they grow well from seed: LABRADOR VIOLET * Viola labradorica purpurea * GORGEOUS PURPLE FOLIAGE * SEEDS.
I remember when I first saw this plant. I was visiting a fellow volunteer master gardener, Eleanor Seaman, in the mid-1990’s. She had a healthy stand of them growing, and said something like, “You just have to be willing to let them wander.” And then she dug some and gave them to me.
Viola labradorica have purple foliage, especially early in the season. They are smaller than common violets, and although they self-seed, they aren’t as aggressive as their cousins. They play well with others, and happily mingle with other shade perennials, so I am willing to let them wander.