Sweeter Violets, Zingerberger and Ephemerals

Sweeter Violets

     Sweet violets in the garden are approaching peak bloom. Instead of doing a ground level belly flop to get close to their heady fragrance or using tiny scissors to cut a tiny bouquet, dig up a chunk, repot it and bring it inside for a while. When it quits blooming, put it back in the garden. Keep it cool and you can enjoy that wonderful smell for a week or longer and then recycle it to its original location.


     The next time you need a fresh gingerroot for cooking, buy an extra root with lots of buds and experiment with growing your own ginger plant. Soak the tuber overnight in warm water, and then nestle it in a pot filled sterile potting soil. Barely cover the tuber and make sure the buds are pointed up. Water lightly and keep it in a warm window. As it puts on more growth give it more water. When the outside temperature stays at above 50, put the pot outside in a shady spot. If you need some fresh ginger, just use the small tubers that form in front of the original tuber. Now, THAT’S fresh ginger! The plant can reach 2 to 4 feet. Ginger root (Zingerber officinale) is a zone 10 plant so you’ll have to bring it inside for the winter but you’ll have a steady supply of fresh ginger for your trouble.

Ephemerals-Coming and Going

      Very early bulbs  seem to last about 2 seconds in the garden but nothing is as welcome in early spring as a brief glance at a little color. The sight of purples and yellows cuts right threw the winter blahs.

     Tiny fragrant blue Iris reticulata, snowdrops, woodland anemones and miniature fragrant yellow narcissus are easy to find now and relatively cheap. Someone else has done all the work planting and growing them for you. They’re already blooming in small pots. Grab a few, enjoy the color and fragrance for a few days inside, then pop the pot in the ground when they quit blooming. Next year when they come back into bloom take the pot out and enjoy them again. After about 2 years of this you can divide them, give away a few or (my personal favorite) keep them for yourself.

Column reprinted with permission, Premier Media Group, South Sound Magazine, Tacoma, WA