Sweet violets, like other flowers, have long been used to convey meanings. The low stature of the blooms and their nodding habit may have contributed to a sense of modesty, and they are also linked with fidelity and loyalty. The violet is February’s birth flower and a symbol of spiritual wisdom and insight.

The sweet fragrance of violets lent their name to perfumes and toiletries, and pressed flowers made their way into nature albums and onto the walls of Victorian parlors. The violet’s popularity as a cut flower led to a boom in cultivation, particularly in France where whole fields were planted with the fragrant species Viola odorata. As a result, the flower became one of the most commonly sold and recognizable of all garden plants.

The flowers were not only appreciated for their fragrance, but also for their beauty. They were a popular subject for artists, appearing in works by pre-Raphaelites and the Impressionists. In a famous scene in Charlotte Bront’s novel, Villette, Lucy Snowe intercepts a love letter bearing a bunch of violets from her friend. Violets were a popular choice for bouquets, and they were often combined with other flowers such as snowdrops or camellias.

Violets are hardy in most zones and thrive in most soil types, although they prefer rich, well-draining ground. They are easy to grow from seed or transplanted from cuttings, and they do best with partial shade or full sun. Violets need regular watering and supplemental irrigation in dry weather, but they are drought tolerant once established. They can be grown in the lawn, but they are generally a little short-lived in this situation and are more suited to a shaded border or rock garden for more information click here

During the Victorian period, extensive hybridization of Viola odorata and other native species produced hardier, disease-resistant plants with a wider range of colors and more appealing shapes. Many of the cultivars available today are the result of this fertile period. In many cases, the new breeds lost some of the delicate fragrance that was such a distinguishing feature of the original species.

For a simple way to enjoy the fragrance of violets, gather the flowers and place them in a jar filled with white wine vinegar or rice vinegar. Leave them to infuse for a few days, until the color and aroma are absorbed into the liquid. Violet vinegar makes a lovely addition to salad dressing or can be drizzled over buttery biscuits. Alternatively, try making violet leaf and flower ice cubes. This is a fun and easy activity to do with children, and they are a delightful garnish for lemonades and other summer beverages. Violet leaves and flowers are also tasty sprinkled in salads.