Since I seldom have any real snow to beautify long winter days, I am very thankful for these little guys that brighten my outdoor views, violas. This is the second or third year that I have planted them in my porch boxes after removing the tired summer flowers. They are amazingly hearty, making it easily through some very cold nights. They require practically no care, and, to me best of all, they are just plain perky. Violas and pansies look a lot alike, are in the same family, but are very different flowers. Viola blooms are about half the size of those of pansies and they are also hardier. Pansies were actually derived from violas, so technically all pansies are violas but not all violas are pansies. Pansies are also considered perennials, while violas self-seed and can appear in other places in the garden, which explains why I have found some growing in the garden area below my deck. Another thing that I really like about them is that they have more blooms per plant, so they appear more like a carpet of blooms. And you can also eat them! I have used them in salads and to decorate cakes. They can be a real surprise to the unsuspecting when found in a salad, which can be a lot of fun and a sure way to start a conversation about editable flowers. When I walk through my front door I am facing three large windows that look out onto my porch and straight toward my flower boxes blooming against the stark, leafless trees surrounding the pond behind my house. While I am already thinking about what flowers and vegetables to plant on my porch come warmer weather, I am in no hurry to replace my violas. Being able to look at them everyday, rain or sun, fog or snow, makes me feel good and keeps me from getting the winter doldrums. I highly recommend them.