11 April 2016

The memory of violets...

O wind, where have you been, that you blow so sweet?
among the violets which blossom at your feet.
The honeysuckle waits for Summer and the heat.
But violets in the chilly Spring make the turf so sweet.
Christina Rossetti

The violet is one of my favourite flowers, I'm not sure why...
perhaps because I always associate them with my nanny whose garden was full of wild violets in Spring. When she died they were in season and I dropped a bunch of them down onto the coffin at her burial.
She was born in Victorian Times when flowers had powerful meanings and were often given as a way to express emotions, they were the language of love, each flower given a particular meaning;
the violet meant modesty, the blue violet; faithfulness, the white violet; let's take a chance on happiness.


I remember she wore a hat with violets and a veil...


 and a posy of velvet violets, which was also fashionable to wear when I was younger.


But one of my earliest memories of violets is of bringing back a bottle of violet scent from a Girl Guide's trip to Cornwall, my mother accepted it gracefully, as mums are supposed to do when given something from their children they would never buy themselves.

The scent of violets evokes nostalgic memories for many people, it reminds some of us of our grandparents. Sweet violet scented fragrances were highly popular during the 19th c but demand was far greater than manufacturers were able to supply, so the discovery of ionones in 1893 led to the substitution of violet toned synthetics for the extremely expensive violet flower oil. Up until the 1940's the violet note was derived from both the Parma violet leaf and flower, but yield of extraction from the flower was so poor it became more profitable to replace it with synthetic products and concentrate on the leaves. The violet leaf gives a 'cut grass' and 'sliced cucumber' note to fragrances, quite different to the sweet powdery scent of violet flowers.

The sweetness of the violet's deep blue eyes,
Kiss'd by the breath of heaven, seems coloured by it's skies

 Do you remember the delicate violet flavoured Parma Violets sweets of childhood? still made by the British Derbyshire company Swizzels Matlow who also produce Love Hearts, or violet iced gems?
An acquired taste perhaps... If you like them maybe you also like the dark chocolates with rose and violet flavoured fondant centres topped with sugared rose and violet petals, I love them.

A victim in an Agatha Christie story was poisoned by a box of violet creams, but which story?.

A violet by a mossy stone, half hidden from the eye,
fair as a star, when only one is shining in the sky.
William Wordsworth

There are a lot of things that can be made or decorated with violets...

carved amethyst violets, nephrite leaves and diamonds brooch
                                            jam                         macaroons                         honey

                                                  sugar                                 cake                           liqueur

                                           china                              chocolate                       hair                            glass   

Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it
Mark Twain

My most romantic memory of violets is of being eighteen, stepping off of a bus in the rain to be met by my boyfriend, who shyly produced a bunch of violets from under his jacket where he had hidden them.
I reminded him of this only the other day... he just smiled

As violets so be I recluse and sweet, cheerful as daisies unaccounted rare,
still sunward - gazing from a lowly seat, still sweetening wintry air.
While half - awakened Spring lags incomplete,
while lofty forest trees tower bleak and bare,
daisies and violets own remotest heat and bloom and make them fair.
Christina Rossetti

Perhaps the loveliest thing about the violet is just the simplicity of the flower itself...


  1. There lovely...Although a pansy person,
    l love any small flower, with a bright
    colour! Not! Cut, and placed in silly
    vases...but growing naturally, so the
    sun light can shine and show off it's

    Oh! And, did you know that Josephine
    wore Violets when she married Napoleon.
    Wonder if Napoleon wore a 'pansy'. :).

    Agatha Christie story.....
    'Murder is Announced'.

    1. Goodness! For the last couple hours l've
      been scratching my head....Chocolate Creams.
      As l don't read books...I seem to remember
      seeing and episode of Poirot, think it was
      called 'The Chocolate Box'. He found the
      murderer, because half the chocolates were
      put in the box..up~side~down. So, think it
      must be that one....HeHe! ???

    2. Yes could be 'A murder is announced' though I don't know what the chocs she was given were... not sure about 'The chocolate box' ...all I know is that the blue lid was found on the pink box and vice versa, but again don't know what the chocs were, then there's 'The Sittaford mystery' where he's sent a box of chocs and the bird eats one and dies, but again I don't know what chocs they were, the mystery deepens...

  2. Replies
    1. Probably the most romantic thing he's ever done... long time waiting for another romantic gesture.

  3. Oh my goodness this is such a beautiful post. Thank you so much for all the lovely images and for the memories. Violets were always the favourite flower of my dad. He was a farm worker and so he saw them growing wild along with primroses and bluebells. After he died, I took a bunch to put in his coffin – it was a great comfort to me.
    Willie told me about your blog, and I’m very glad he did.

    1. Thank you Barbara... it's amazing the memories that come flooding back when you're reminded of something.

  4. Violets are so fragile and intense with colour. I love pansies with their happy *faces*. Perhaps the viola is one that embraces tryst? Violets and badges depicting them, were sold in fund-raising efforts in Australia and New Zealand on and around Violet Day 2 July in commemoration of the lost soldiers of World War I. (Wiki) Also in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, the flower referred to as Love-in-idleness is another name for the mid-western wild pansy (Viola tricolor). The viola probably has more reference in literature if not equal to that of the rose....... :-)

    1. Thank you Christine, I think we have come to recognise the poppy so much in connection with war that we don't realise other countries may use a different flower, I will ask my friend in Australia to send me one.

  5. I love violets and all sweets and chocolates in that flavour!
    I felt very excited to see some flowering last weekend x

    1. See I knew you were special, not a lot of people like rose and violet chocolates, good say I, all the more for me. x

  6. A sweet poem and beautiful March violets!

    Madelief x

    1. Thank you Madelif, your allotment is already starting to bloom beautifully, it's lovely to watch the unfolding each year. x


Thank you very much for taking the time to visit and comment ♥
I don't open Anonymous comments as they are always spam!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...