As a regular speaker on the topic of Violas and Pansies, I am always aware of the fact although I may attempt to appear as the 'fountain of knowledge' the reality is just how little I do know. When it comes to question time I prepare myself to have to say "Well I really don't know the answer to that one" And it was Viola Pedata that almost brought my wealth of ignorance to the fore.
After addressing a very knowledgeable Hardy Plant Society group, I was taken aback with the surprise question "What do I do with Viola Pedata?" A moment of panic, in which I am torn between admitting no knowledge of the plant, partly true; or the whole truth that I have tried and failed at least three times to cultivate it! However, I was saved by the booming voice of a well known plantsman and nurseryman from the back of the hall "It's a !*! Grow something else" The audience collapsed with laughter and I escaped with my resident know-all credentials intact.
This did push me to go and find out a little more and attempt to cultivate it once more. I posted a question on our Internet notice board dedicated to genus viola. For those with access and interest there are two : -
I received much sage advice, especially from America, of which it is a native. What I remember most was a lady, from Maryland if I remember correctly, telling me how it sprung up like a weed during the construction of a new highway. The construction was acid, free draining soil. Given this at its roots I am pleased to say that Viola Pedata is no longer regarded as a !*!. I use a peat-based compost that uses lump wood charcoal and coarse bark as the drainage material, as against grit or perlite. The plants have a deep root run, and so are put in 1 litre deep pots. It has proved tolerably hardy here in Shropshire - I have left pots outside for the past two winters - probably not much of a test? Anyway survival has been 100%
I have propagated easily by division in late Spring, but one problem remains; that of getting seed. I have four types - white, pale lilac, blue and a bi-colour - my mind turned to breeding. However, as much as I have tried I could not get seed to set. Well, except for 1 small pot with 8 seeds - which have yet to germinate. If anyone has any answers to this I should be most grateful, just in case I get another awkward question.