Saturday, March 15, 2014

Violets are Blue, or is it purple, or lavender?

An old song chimed:

“Lavender blue, dilly, dilly
Lavender green
If you were king, dilly, dilly
I'd need a queen.”

Now “lavender green” is a new one on me. This little ditty has had many variations since its creation as an English folk song and nursery rhyme dating all the way back to the seventeenth century. Various forms have been sung since the twentieth century.

“Lavender’s Blue” as some call it, has a Roud Folk Song Index number of 3483. Burl Ives's version first sung in 1948 was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song.

Roses are red, violets are blue. . .

"Roses are red"
Roud #19798
William Wallace Denslow's illustrations for "Roses are red", from a 1901 edition of Mother Goose
The Rose is Red
The Violet is Blue
Sugar is Sweet
and so are You!

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The question as to whether violets are lavender or blue may never be answered.

My mother loved African violets. She had several that continually bloomed. I gave it a shot as a young mother, but mine eventually died. I had a tendency to over water. The instructions said they like damp feet. In order to keep them “damp” I hovered over them, feeling the soil and stressing out about what that really meant.

My daughter Pam gave me an African violet plant for Mother’s Day last year. She said she remembered that I grew violets, but she may have been thinking of my mother. The photos in this blog will prove to her (and to myself) that I can actually grow them. I have a routine of once a week watering. The instructions say plastic pots are best, but all I had at the time was a clay pot.

So far things are working well. I water from the bottom only, never allowing water to touch the leaves. I’m also in the habit of clipping off any dead flowers, so the plant always looks fresh and new.

I’ve always adored flowers, but, unlike my mother, I don’t naturally have a green thumb. I’ve had to work at it. In fact, for many years I had arrangements of dried flowers and silk flowers adorning my tables.

Every room in my house was brightened with an array of cheery fake blossoms. My mother once called me “the flower lady.” Was she being sarcastic because they were all fakes? Perhaps. She’d be pleased to know that I finally figured out the right formulae of water, light, and temperature to grow and enjoy real plants. I guess I’m just a slow learner.