Viola labradorica

Its provenance proves its hardiness – this brave little violet is a native of Greenland and the most northern regions of America. A low, fast-spreading, ground-cover plant, its chief beauty is in the leaves.

Which are purple and perpetual. The flowers are much like English dog-violets, perhaps a little smaller, purple and slightly spurred. Abundant in spring, there are occasional flowers all the year round.

This viola will grow in tight clumps in any well-drained soil, in sun or light shade (in deep shade the leaves tend to be green rather than purple), carpeting the ground and seeding almost too freely. It is too dwarf for the mixed border, but makes attractive pools of colour in a rosebed; or dot single plants in a small flowerbed among polyanthus, anemones, muscari and all the bright flowers of early spring.

It is perhaps a shame to give so humble a job to so pretty a plant, but if you have, like most of us, a really horrid corner of your garden where nothing seems to thrive, perhaps near voracious conifers, V. labradorica will almost certainly take over and carpet the soil. Put in your plants 12 inches (30 cm) apart.

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