Mrs. Johnson's garden was overrun with wild violets. Violets, if allowed to grow and given their way, will quickly turn into a tenacious weed, spreading to cover the entire area with their heart-shaped leaves and small blue blossoms. Mrs. Johnson, who grew exotic roses, did not like wild violets.
First, Mrs. Johnson tried pulling the violets. Long hours she spent on her knees, trying to clear those violets away; many a sunburn she blamed on the little blue-flowered plants. So involved was she in pulling those violets that she nearly forgot to fertilize her roses.
"But, mama," said her little girl, "aren't the violets pretty?"
"Wild violets," said Mrs. Johnson, "are not roses. And in my garden, anything that is not a rose is a weed."
Across the street, Mrs. Smith hummed happily to herself as she carefully spread fertilizer on her own flower beds. Mrs. Smith, thought Mrs. Johnson, must not know what it was like to have wild violets overrunning your garden. She was much too happy.
Well, all of Mrs. Johnson's weeding couldn't get those wild violets to budge one inch; and it seemed that for each one she pulled out, another one sprouted. Finally, Mrs. Johnson gave up and decided to dig up and turn over the soil and bury the wild violets. So she got out her spade and her rake and she turned over the soil, until all of the garden around the roses was soil and nothing else. She turned over the soil so vigorously that the sharp edge of her spade and the tines of her rake cut more than a few of the roots that belonged to the roses. But Mrs. Johnson was happy, because she couldn't see a single wild violet anywhere.
But one by one, those little wild violets poked their leaves and stems and little blue flowers back up out of the soil. Wild violets are very tenacious that way, and because each little plant can send out roots that sprout into more wild violets, they are quite used to being under the soil for a while before they sprout back up.
Across the street, Mrs. Smith and her little girl were carefully edging their garden with seashells and pebbles. Their happy chatter made Mrs. Johnson absolutely sure that Mrs. Smith had never even seen a single wild violet. "No one," said Mrs. Johnson, "who is overrun with wild violets can ever be that happy in their garden."
Mrs. Johnson had had it with the wild violets. She went to the gardening store and she said to the man at the counter, "I have a problem with wild violets. Sell me your strongest, nastiest weed killer." She bought two big jugs of the smelly stuff, and she sprayed it all over the wild violets. Then she sprayed it again, just for good measure. And slowly, the wild violets began to droop. The little blue flowers dropped to the soil, and the leaves browned, curled up, and dried. Mrs. Johnson watched suspiciously for a long while, but no more wild violets popped their leaves out of the soil.
"Come see," said Mrs. Johnson to her little girl. "I think we have finally beaten the wild violets! See, there is not a single wild violet anywhere!"
"But, mama," said Mrs. Johnson's little girl, "the roses have gone all brown and dry. It is not a pretty garden anymore."
"Well, I just won't have a garden, then," Mrs. Johnson declared. "A person simply can't have a garden when they're beset by such a plague as wild violets." So she dug up her dead roses, spread grass seed, and hired the boy down the street to mow every Saturday.
Across the street, Mrs. Smith, in a gigantic straw hat, had settled down in a lawn chair with the sort of book that you always mean to get back to when the dishes have to be done; and her little girl was just catching her breath from getting to five hundred on her jump rope. Their garden had turned out wonderfully, and the healthy green leaves made a lovely contrast with the designs of the seashells and pebbles at the border of the flower beds.
"Mama," said Mrs. Smith's little girl, "I think this is the prettiest garden we've ever had, isn't it?"
"You know, I do think so," said Mrs. Smith, "and the funniest thing about it is that we didn't actually have to plant anything this year! All the flower beds just started sprouting these beautiful little wild violets."