Viola cornuta and a toad

10 March 2013

I managed to hobble as far as the bench by the pond today – my ankle is getting better (though it’s a shade of purple not far off yesterday’s crocus) and it was so good to get outside. Willow, the cat, joined us and sat right on the edge of a wobbly edging stone and didn’t seem to realise that she was in imminent danger of tipping into the water, which she would have hated, not just because she had got wet, but because it would have been so undignified, especially with an audience. Chris decided to move the stone to render it less unstable, stood it up on edge, and underneath it was a very small toad – we regularly see frogs, but the only toads have been baby ones and up the far end of the garden, so it was great to see one enjoying the water facilities provided. There were also a couple of newts swimming around, and the first backswimmer of the year.

The other wildlife sighting of the day was a female blackbird gathering nesting material. She was particularly intent on pulling up last year’s lanky stems from some perennial viola cornuta – she was gripping a stem in her beak, then bouncing backwards to separate it from the main plant. This is an example of the books telling you one thing – they say give your violas a haircut at the end of the season – but the wildlife preferring you not to be so tidy.

Viola cornuta

Viola cornuta

Viola cornuta is a particular type of viola which is truly perennial, and tends to ramble gently, rather than being a clump. The one in the photo is either ‘Broughton Blue’ or ‘Icy but Spicy’ – I’ve taken cuttings off both and lost track of which is which: they aren’t very different. I’ll do a full post on them sometime, but one of the best plant nurseries I’ve found for a good range of viola cornuta is www.elizabethmacgregornursery.co.uk . They are in Scotland, so I purchased by mail order, and they arrived beautifully packed and in really good condition. I have to admit violas aren’t very good for wildlife, but they are wonderful “doers”, blooming for months on end and needing virtually no attention – especially if the blackbirds do it for you.

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4 Comments to “Viola cornuta and a toad”

  1. I still haven’t found a toad this year despite much searching! I hope they predicted the cold snap and are suitably well hidden again.

  2. Glad to hear your ankle is starting to feel a bit better, Lyn. I love that your blackbird is chipping in with some tidying in the garden whilst you’re out of action!

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