Pied Beauty

Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889)

Glory be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches' wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:

Praise him.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Corsican Violas and the Power of the Imagination

The Corsican Viola, or Viola corsica, is a sweet little Mediterranean relative of the pansy.  Flowers of indigo blue, a neat mounding habit and the ability to tolerate partial shade all serve to recommend this flower, but that's not why I like it.  Corsican Viola is also rumored to be a bit more heat-tolerant than our regular pansies and violas, but that's not why I like it.  Some folks even claim that Corsican Viola is perennial, and can reseed, but that's not why I like it.

Corsican viola, or Viola corsica
I love this flower because it's what I imagine the original viola was, before the plant breeders went crazy for wild color combinations and frilly petals. I like to think what it would have been like to come upon a clump of these charming purple flowers, while strolling behind a flock of fluffy white sheep as they meandered through the Mediterranean hills.

Somehow, more innocent than regular pansies and violas.
I know, I know.  The modern Corsican viola probably bears little resemblance to its original ancestor.  But still, there's something quaint and vaguely antique about it, after all.

Plant Corsican violas in full or partial sun.  Make sure the soil is well-draining and feed regularly.  Like its cousin the pansy, this viola is a fairly heavy feeder.


  1. I am seriously enamored of these little darlings. I planted just a few of them in November and I want more!

  2. It is such a sweet little flower. Imagine fields of them.

  3. I love the wild violets that bloom in my garden each spring. Most are white, but a few are purple. I don't know their name or parentage, but they are all simply charming.