We've been experiencing some heavy rains in the Chicago area which my garden must really appreciate because I've been treating my garden like a xeriscaped garden-which it isn't. Aside from a couple of cherished plants in pots nothing has been getting supplemental watering this year. Because of the rains and horrible humidity I've not been spending much time in the garden looking at plants or looking for bugs to photograph so when I went out today I was surprised to find this little violet blooming in a pot.
The reason I was surprised to find this violet blooming is because it wasn't there a few days ago. Two years ago I was given seeds for Viola cornuta 'Bowles' Black' and didn't get around to sowing them last year. This year when I was potting up a Calla Lily I tossed those seeds in the pot and hoped for the best. Eventually I forgot about this black violet and the anticipation of seeing it bloom waned when I never saw a sign of germination. Even though it is one tiny bloom (smaller than a dime) I couldn't help but be mesmerized by the black petals and yellow eye.
Out of the black flowers I have growing this violet is the only one that actually lives up to the description of being "black" or maybe I should say that it photographs as black as it looks in person. Most of the black flowers end up looking more blue or a deep maroon when in bright light or when I photograph them.
I'm tempted to make some sugar syrup to make candied violet flowers as a treat or tossing some of the flowers (if more sprout) in a salad. The leaves, flowers and roots of violets are reported to be high in vitamins A & C and contain a type of antioxidant called an anthocyanin. 'Bowles' Black' was named after E. A Bowles who was a "self-taught gardener, botanist, botanical artist, and garden writer as well as plant hunter." Tomorrow I'm going to go looking for the Pansy 'Black Prince' seeds I sowed directly in the ground that never sprouted and see if the rain has encouraged them to germinate.
See also: Viola 'Blackjack.'