Sunday, November 29, 2009
Collecting Violet Seeds
I love violets. Maybe someday I will learn how to tell one type from another. For now, I assume that they are all native plants, and I give them names like "the violets that grow under my poison sumac" and "the violets that grow in the muddy lawn at the school down the street".
The violets in Gabe's Garden, pictured above, are "the violets from Marna's Driveway", and they are the first violets that I have been able to watch for an entire growing season. Now, finally, I have an answer to the question "why do I never see a dead violet blossom?" It seems that when the flower is ready to make seeds, it bends over and hides its head in (or very near) the dirt. Obsessive gardeners take note: this variety of flower saves you the trouble of dead-heading!
Months later, the little football-shaped pod goes from green to greenish yellow, and once again stands up straight above the foliage. Then, when it dries, the pod pops open in three segments, revealing a couple dozen round seeds. Further drying causes the pod segments to constrict a little further, which tiddlywinks the seeds airborne. (At any rate that is what I have concluded after emptying some of the seed pods into my lawn. Pinch them gently in just the right spot and the seeds go flying rather forcefully.)
I seem to have missed seed-season for the "poison sumac" violets and "the one lonely violet under the maple tree out back", but I nabbed a few remaining pods from the "muddy lawn" violets, and lots from the violets in Gabe's Garden. The paper-bag method seems to have worked: the green pods left in a bag have dried and popped open nicely. Now I just have to see if they germinate. Does anyone out there know if these seeds need exposure to winter weather to germinate? If not, I would like to start some of these indoors over the winter. Already dreaming of Spring, I lust for violets.