By Gael (Plot 234)
As we move towards Winter, violets begin thrusting their shy little flowers forward. There is something winsome about a violet….a sweet longing. They have been known for their heavenly fragrance for centuries. It is in fact considered by some to be the most beautiful scent in the floral kingdom and is often used in perfumery.
Violet is a perenial having a dark green basal rosette of leaves and flowering from the centre in purples, lilac, blue, pale yellow, pink and white. There are over five hundred species of violets mainly originating from Sth. America and Europe.
Violets reproduce by seed and runners, the latter being the most efficient way to propogate them. Plant in a rich sandy loam about 10cm apart. They love shade and are great for those difficult spots in the garden. They do not like to dry out completely but can tolerate a fair degree of neglect.
They are beautiful and edible. Both leaves and flowers can be added to salads. The flowers can be steeped in vinegar for a delicious scent and gorgeous colour. Tea can be made with the dried or fresh flowers. Violet cakes and violet marmalade are recipes of bygone days while crystallised violets adorn cakes and sweets.
Medically they are reported to be beneficial to the kidneys. The flowers are slightly laxative and syrup of violets is said to help sleeplessness. So grow some violets in your garden.