Dress Your Area with Violets

In our yard we are letting violets cover the ground. They have green heart-shaped leaves, and are an early flowering thing. I think this spring was the best year we’ve had with the violets so far. For a few weeks I was fascinated every time I walked by them. I can put my hand in them and feel like it is buried. Little bugs have been hanging out in the low shade they make, under the leaves. I don’t know what the bugs are called, but they are interesting to watch.



Violets, native to Minnesota, make gorgeous ground cover.

We have been happily phasing out the grass. Kentucky bluegrass is not that good at supporting a healthy world. It is not native (unlike common violets, which are native to Minnesota), so bugs and other bio-life are not keen on making it a home. 

Compared to other prairie plants, the root system of Kentucky bluegrass is very, very, shallow. Because of this, the Kentucky bluegrass is not as good at storing carbon, preventing erosion, or absorbing rain water. And speaking of water, many people use a lot of it on lawn grass. Also, I think lawn grass can get confused with sidewalks because sometimes I see sprinklers used to water the cement.

Sadly, a lot of fossil fuel is used to cut grass. It’s sad because in order to get the fossil fuel, large machines fracture the earth, and they use even more water when they do that. They also drill the floors of the oceans and turn all of the coral white. Coral goes white when it’s dead––I learned so when I visited an aquarium one time.

It is predicted that in the year 2050, only thirty years from now, all the world’s coral will be gone. 


Strawberries are not violets, but like violets they can go in your yard. They make flowers and food.

I think the flowers of the violets are beautiful, and so do a lot of grateful local pollinators. I can see bees bouncing on them. 

Ants love to eat the violet seeds. So do mice and doves. Caterpillars and rabbits will eat their leaves. It spreads like a wonderful weed and makes a joyful ground-cover. From above I imagine it looks like the flag of a new society. It seems to prefer the shade, like me!

In a pretend scenario where you were asking for my advice, I would say, “My friend, give me a high-five and let the ground where you live cover itself with violets.”


The logo for streets dot mn but it's a flower. Climate @ streets dot mn.

Editor’s note: This article is part of our Climate Committee’s on-going “The City That Eats Together” event.

“We’re hoping to bring together stories and resources that cover the wide range of topics around what and how we eat in cities, as well as historical perspectives and future dreams.”

“In particular, knowing that food insecurity within systems built on white supremacy is felt first and worst by those who are disenfranchised, colonized, and marginalized, and that urban food sovereignty has been criminalized, we hope to elevate the work being done within and by communities of color.”

Want to join this event? You can sign up to be a writer and share your story.

About Kyle Constalie

Kyle Constalie lives in St. Paul, MN and tries to use his bare hands to calm the river surface.