Rebecca's Tufted Violet
"Every violet has Heaven for a looking-glass."
-Sir Alfred Noyes
Viola cornuta is called the Tufted Violet, Horned Violet, or Bedding Pansy. We have the cultivar 'Rebecca,' which has creamy pale blossoms edged in deep shades of purple, over oval dark leaves that stand four to eight inches tall.
The blooms begin in May, are still going gung-ho in June, & continue more sparingly throughout the whole of Summer. They have a pleasing scent of vanilla.
We planted it in the shade garden underneath an oakleaf hydrangea, a spot where it gets mainly only a little morning sun. It's exceedingly hardy so long as it never experiences drought, & would even tolerate considerable sunlight (in temperate areas) just so long as it never dries out, though happiest in humousy soil in part shade to deep shade.
As a spreading groundcover it can be a little aggressive. As this patch spreads, it is joining with a nearby carpet of Labrador violets which can assuredly hold their own in any competition for ground.
Though the leaves are capable (in perfect conditions) of semi-evergreen presence clear through winter, in our garden it performed handsomely clear to the end of Autumn with aggressive spread, but then died to the ground & disappeared even though it was an unusually moderate winter. It did not return in spring. As a very tender perennial, it is regarded as shortlived in the garden, but I'd expected to have it longer than one year.
In March with the Labroador violets already in full flourish, & no sign of Rebecca's return, we planted some V. cornuta 'Penny Orange' in the area previously owned by 'Rebecca.' 'Penny Orange' is no less tender a perennial, &am is often regarded as an annual or biennial. If these hybrid violas continue to fail to naturalize, & if I weary of replacing them with new kinds every year, I may eventually give the area over to additional cyclamens.
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