Friday, April 1, 2011



copyright 2009 by Mimi Foxmorton I've discovered the Secret of the Universe.

No, really, I have.

As a fairly recent first time homeowner with the ability to make absolutely nothing of import rise from the soil I maintained an improbable three year quest to grow wild violets.

You see...I've been to the web sites. I know what they say about wild violets behind their backs. It isn't polite. Virtually everywhere I went there was page upon page of information on how to get rid of wild violets. Eradication with the vengeance of a super villain. And not a single site where I could actually order them.

Oh, some violets have their own society. And something called violas (second cousins thrice removed, I think) can be bought in pots from the nursery. But nary a place to be found that would help me to grow the flower of my dreams; the vile and savage violet.

It became almost taboo to ask how one would go about the growing of a lawn full of these wily, nefarious and apparently, to hear tell, just plain discourteous plants. Looks of horror would be followed by declarations regarding the plight of my sanity. To willfully sow such a thing appeared to be akin to criminal activity or, at the very least, Bedlamite lunacy.

But I didn't care. I love wild things. They make me feel free somehow. Airy and surreal. As though I belong to another time. Like any thing's possible and how weeds can be beautiful and maybe, just maybe things are going to be ok.

I remember my first encounter with a wild thing. Six or seven years old I stumbled across the most wondrous lacy white flower just growing, seemingly for miles, in a field. I still remember how I felt; as though I'd discovered a magical faerie land. My good fortune was unbelievable. Was it possible that only I knew of this enchantment?

Picking only one, least I offend the faeries, I ran back to the house to show my mother my secret discovery only to be promptly tossed back out the door with the admonition to get that "stink weed out the house right now!" Perception, it seems, being a notoriously personal thing. To say that I was disappointed to find my magic flowers were, in fact, stink weed is putting it delicately to say the very least. (This happened again with Spring trillium but I wisely decided to stay in the cool woods and play bride by myself.)

Years later I stumbled across the very flower in a garden magazine and found it named Queen Anne's Lace. Ah-ha! Suddenly I was vindicated! And thus began my quest for the Wild Thing.

Turns out that senior citizens are a wealth of information on Where To Get Things and luckily I'm a senior event coordinator in my Other Life.

A single lunch time plea netted me three huge boxes of the coveted plant the very next day. In full bloom. I couldn't believe how beautiful they were. Giant clumps of heavily flowered, deep purple violets hanging from delicate, long green stems, just waiting to dwell with me.

But I was compelled to ask: Why? I begged to know. Why was it that absolutely no one wanted a yard full of wild violets? Was there something I didn't know? Would these innocent looking plants sneak through my bedroom window and strangle me in the night? Did they sing show tunes, poorly, when you were trying to nap?

Why can’t one have a lawn carpeted with the wild violet?

It was at that point that a senior gentleman offered what would turn out to be the most important words I had ever been given upon which to reflect: "Because," he confided with a sage nod and a matter-of-fact tone. "Because it isn't grass."

And there it was. The Secret of the Universe: Because It Isn't.

Because, once upon a time, someone said it should be so.

And so that's the way it is.

No shocking reason. No horrifying revelation. It just wasn't
what it ought to be.

And that, it seems, is good enough.

But I intend to change that, me and my Wild Things.

I intend to embrace the things that Aren't.
The things that Shouldn't Be.

And I intend to change the secret to the Wild Thing at a time.

Next year I'm starting a thistle garden.

Mimi Foxmorton is a pirate by blood by nature and by choice and embraces imagination and the Wild Things. She is also a children’s theatre director and senior citizen coordinator. She was adopted from an orphanage in Heidelberg, Germany and thinks her Book of Rules, the one that is apparently handed out at birth, got lost in the move.

Daucus Carota


Sandy said...

I have had an ongoing "discussion" with my neighbor, who likes to "help me out" by mowing my cultivated dandelion green patch. I'm gradually educating him. This year, I'm working on bringing in some wild mushroom spawn. We'll see how that goes over with him! Wild Gardening: it's not just a hobby, it's a lifestyle!

Pat - Arkansas said...

Oh, Miss Mimi! I'm totally with you on the wild violets. Unlike you, however, I already have a huge and still-spreading mass of violets in my back yard. I am greeted by shades of both pale and deep violet. I don't mow that area until the violet blooms have disappeared. I wouldn't mind if they took over the whole yard. I do pull them up by their tiny, knobby roots when necessary for the survival of my lilies.
Wild violets and wild geranium (a creeping vine) cover most of my back yard.

Who needs grass, anyway? Grass makes me sneeze; violets do not.

P.S. If you ever want some MORE violet-starters, let me know.

IsobelleGoLightly said...

We love wild violets here! We have purple ones at the back garden and we got some white ones last year to spread out in the front garden! There are little purple ones in the woods too. What my lady wants to find are sweet violets - the smelly ones. Say, Sweet Violet would be a good name for a goat!

Marigold said...

Okay. We just LOVE this post. It is US! When the goatmother was young, she used to dig up the wild violets and plant them under her bedroom window. A very sage herb grower the goatmother used to work with used to borrow a quote from someone saying, 'An weed is simply a plant no one has found a use for yet' - or something along that line. We like it. We SALUTE the weedy things. (Besides they taste good :))

rhymeswithplague said...

I was pointed here today by Pat from Arkansas. Lovely post. I wondered while I was reading whether your "stinkweed" might not be Queen Anne's Lace...and it was! Did you know QLA is a member of the carrot family? Well, it is, which probably accounts for its smell.

So the wild violet "isn't what it ought to be" said that unkind man. Well, I am not what I ought to be, either, and neither, I daresay, are you. Does that mean someone should uproot us and cast us away as well? I think not. But of course I am now 70 and mellower than many others.

Thank you for a thoughtful and provocative post.

Buttons said...

Love this post just beware the wild parsnip It is a relative of a weed you would not want to get involved with. It is Evil beauty I wrote about it in my blog. Check it out I love weeds too but learned my lesson. I love wild violets they are special I let them grow everywhere. B

edenhills said...

My mother has a thing for violets also. She will dig them from people's yard and plant them in her own. She likes to have as many different types as she can find. I love your love of wild things!

Millie said...

I love violets too! They taste so yummy, but that Queen Anne's Lace is as bad tasting as it is smelly and pretty.

Deborah Jean at Dandelion House said...

Aww yes! Cultivating the wild... inside and out!
Love it!
Dandelion Wishes,

Buttons said...

Hello Mimi thank you for your comment on my blog. My blog is you are looking for is on and the post about the wild parsnip is Evil Beauty Thanks again. B