Violets are the first flowers I remember picking. I am not sure if that is why they are my favorite, the fact that they are one of the spring flowers or the extreme pleasure I still remember at smelling a scented violet as a child. For the last several years I have had white, blue, and yellow violets in my garden and this past spring I brought in some of the small scented white marsh violets. I have no idea of their proper names and was quite astounded when I went on the Internet to discover that there are over 300 species of violets in the world. Truly astounding was to learn that some are trees and bushes. Later I will list the websites I have found but this article will deal only with what I know of violets.
Violets belong to the family Violaceae and Violet is the diminutive form of the Latin Viola, which is the Latin form of the Greek name Ione, the goddess they are said to be named after. However, another derivation of the word Violet is said to be from Vias (wayside) so take your pick. Flowers are generally deep purple hence the color violet, but they may be while, yellow or pink. It seems rare for them to have seeds but this fall after a particularly dry fall many of my violets with a northern exposure produced copious seedpods.
Violets thrive in woodlands and dappled shade but need a certain amount of good light. I find that they enjoy well dug, rich. soil. And like many other plants they seem to like air movement around them so I do not plant too closely to buildings. . I am told that .a top dressing of bone meal is useful for developing good blooms but so far mine bloom well without this.
Violets reproduce my throwing out runners but you may not notice this until you try to divide them. They do not care to be too crowded so I thin them out occasionally try to choose damp or misty days for moving plants and the violets especially seem to enjoy this.
Violets were mentioned frequently by ancient Greek and Roman writers. And by earlier Britons. In the area in which I live violet leaves were cooked in early spring as a tonic, for those who had lived through winters when there were no fresh fruits and vegetables. Now we know that the leaves are full of vitamin C so it is possible that other recipes we have come across may have some validity also. The roots are highly purgative so some caution is recommended if you choose to use them.
A modern homeopathic medicinal tincture is made from the whole fresh plant, with proof spirit, and is considered useful for a spasmodic cough with hard breathing, and also for rheumatism of the wrists.
Violet Syrup: To 1 lb. of scented Violet flowers freshly picked, add 5 cups of boiling water, steep for twenty-four hours in a glass dish. Strain liquid through cheesecloth. Add 4 cups sugar and simmer gently until it forms syrup. If you wish to tint this a violet color you can use purple pansies or purple johnny- jump- ups. Store in glass jars. Use for sore throat and coughs.
Violets speak of faithfulness