C.W. Gusewelle is away this week. His regular column will return. In the meantime, here is one of his favorites.
Violets have claimed at least the front quarter of the lawn, where sunlight falls. And creeping Charlie, an aggressive vining plant, has taken most of the rest.
A scandal our lawn may be, by the standards of the governing homeowners association. But treading out barefoot today into the dew dampness of an early spring morning, I understood finally that I would have it no other way.
If it is scandalous, at least it’s a scandal of sweet flowering. And only in this short moment of a season is the gift of beauty so freely given.
I picked a little bunch of wild blossoms and brought them in, then had a devil of a time finding anything small enough for a vase. An empty pill container finally served to hold them, and they’re on the table now beside me, where they can be examined more closely.
The violets are of three distinct varieties. The flowers of all have five petals, but their colors are different.
One is of that rich shade commonly spoken of — how else? — as violet, with just a bit of white at the throat.
A second kind is lighter, the petals white at the margins but delicately veined with purple, the veining growing darker toward the center.
The third sort is practically all white, with only the least hint of any other color.
Oddly, while all three variants are everywhere represented, one kind or another appears to dominate in various sectors of the yard. What accounts for that I can’t say — whether it’s pure accident or possibly some slight difference in microclimate between locations only a dozen feet apart.
The creeping Charlie, too, is magnificent this time of year. Its flowers are very small — smaller than a single petal of the violet — and trumpet-shaped. The color is a periwinkle blue, with white and maroon markings deep in the trumpet’s bell.
I’d never really taken time to notice them before. But I have to say they contribute subtly by creating a kind of faint blue background against which the bolder colors of the violets show to fine advantage.
Here and there, through this low carpet of blossoms, occasional patches of grass can be seen. But they appear to be limited in extent and well controlled and do not too much detract from the larger effect.
As nearly as I can tell by looking from the window, ours is the only lawn on the block so richly decorated. In both directions, as far as one can see, there’s only an unrelieved sameness of green.
I suppose one day a delegation will appear at the door to report that creeping Charlie and violets have begun to infect neighboring yards and that we are suspected of being the source of the contagion.
“You’re harboring weeds,” they’ll say.
“What’s a weed?” I’ll reply. “A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.”
“Who said that?”
“Well, you mustn’t neglect your grounds the way you have. It’s against the rules.”
“Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist,” I’ll tell them.
“We’re warning you, “ the spokesman will say. “It can’t go another summer like this.”
“Do what we can,” I’ll tell them, “summer will have its flies. If we walk in the woods, we must feed mosquitoes.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“I don’t know, but it has a nice ring.”
By one measure, the prolific flowering of our yard is a nuisance that $25 worth of herbicide could set right. To our eye, it is a celebration.