The British Bedding and Pot Plant Association has selected the Viola as its plant of the year 2003, under the banner "Vibrant Violas" I am sure that there will be some colourful promotions at garden centres, and hopefully, it will manage to captivate a wider audience- and some new members
An interesting article caught my eye in this mornings copy of The Times (15th March) Apparently the world wide supply of crystallised violet petals has run out twice in the last 3 years, this being due to unseasonably wet weather soaking the blooms and rendering them all but useless for the process of crystallising. The supplier of violet creams to the Royal Household was "seriously worried"
Violets have been prized for their medicinal virtues, according to folklore curing everything from headaches onwards. Culpeper in his herbal states that they are to be used to "cool any heat or distemperature of the body" I also read that in modern alternative medicine they are being researched with treatment for rheumatism and stress. Who knows?
But being a simple soul I do get pleasure from the heady perfume of 'Parme de Toulouse', a pot of which I keep, when in flower, by my potting bench. The double flowers are something of a mess of petallage, but I do not grow it to look at, rather to take in its perfume, so strong you can taste it.
Talking of taste - an alternative to the commercial Crystallised violet
Take clean dry violet blooms into beaten egg white and then into fine caster sugar. Dry in a very low oven for about half an hour. They can then be stored in an airtight container, and used to decorate sweets and puddings.
And for the real enthusiast Sally Clarke's shop in West London apparently does a roaring trade in Violet liqueur and violet lollipops.
Lord Byron clearly knew just what he was writing about;
"The sweetness of the Violets deep blue eyes,
Kissed by the breath of Heaven Seems color'd by its skies"