Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Longing for the Violet Rain

Few plants smell like wonderful childhood memories like violets. The native violet: Viola Odorata may be small and few pay much attention to it. But after a few weeks of bright sunny spring days a little rain is usually going to fall, and the scent of the violets is going to be released and carry on air. Many have noticed the divine scent of violets wafting in the air after a spring shower - expressed in Al Jolson's song, "April Showers.":

Though April showers
May come your way,
They bring the flowers
That bloom in May;
And if it's raining,
Have no regrets;
Because, it isn't raining rain, you know,
It's raining violets.

And when you see clouds
Upon the hill,
You soon will see crowds
Of daffodils;
So keep on looking for the bluebird,
And listening for his song,
Whenever April showers come along.

Poets have sung it's praise and the ethereal sweet fragrance is truly remarkable. Pick a few and smell the sweet perfume, that seems to be there one second and gone the next - a perfume like life and love.

Viola Odorata are small evergreen plants, that thrive in dappled shade and where plenty of leaves fall and form compost. Along most hedges they spread willingly and form large clusters. Seeds are also spread by birds and ants. Since I am not a neat freak and appreciate these delicate flowers, I do not consider them a weed. I have come to appreciate their wonderful fragrance and long for the violet rain of spring, that kicks of the garden season, after the snowdrops and crocus have flowered.

Violets interbreed and produce violets of different colours. The most fragrant are the violet blue, but I also see light blue and even blush pink violets. I have also noticed a variety that produces dark leaves. Even the leaves are romantic - heartshaped.

Empress Josephine loved violets. When she married Napoleon Bonaparte, her bridal bouquet contained violets. Violets became Napoleons favorite flower too. When he left for Elba - he told her: " I will return with the violets of spring". On her grave violets were planted and he picked some and kept them in a medalion.


Anonymous said...

I have been waiting.. Nice to have you out here in space again. LOVE your blog and your photos.. amazing!!
Hope to se you soon again..
Sweet Swede

perennialgardener said...

Such a sweet little flower that can be a bit weedy in my garden. I let a few linger every spring & pay for it the next year. :) Thanks for sharing some wonderful trivia on this spring bloomer.

buedamau said...

welcome back niels, we were already missing your lovely posts!
hope to read from you soon again...

Sheila said...

I love violets too! They are so sweet and unassuming.

keewee said...

I also leave the violets alone to do their thing. if i get too many, then I thin them out. I so enjoy their fragrance.

LJ said...

Niels! You're back! You have been missed! I know the "Violet Rain" that you are talking about-it reminds me of when I was little playing in the woods looking for faeries! I refuse to think of Violets as weeds, I have a nice healthy clump growing in my flower bed I can't wait for them to bloom!!

Sylvia (England) said...

Niels, I love violets too - they bring back lots of childhood memories. I sometimes give my mother a different violet plant on Mothers Day (in March). We have a specialist in violets locally so there is plenty of choice. You can just see the buds forming on some of my roses - soon be June!

Best wishes Sylvia (England)

Steve said...

Hey Niels, good to see you again. I am also a violet fan. Where I've lived, they do OK in the shade in nice moist rich soils. I like that they bloom for a long time and, of course, blue color is always so welcomed in a garden where Summers are hot.

Hey, a belated Happy Birthday, too.

Rosehaven Cottage said...

The scent of violets truly does bring back wonderful childhood memories. I recently started a hunt for these little beauties to add to my own garden. My friend found some recently and picked them up for me. I just need to get them over here and into the ground.


Pomona Belvedere said...

Sylvia, a local violet specialist sounds wonderful. Niels, I'm glad to see you and other readers giving violets their due, I think they're wonderful flowers.

It's true that the scent comes and goes; I seem to recall reading that there's something in the chemical constituency of the scent that causes olfactory fatigue, but I'm not sure about that. Also - I used to be in a band that played that song! it's fun to do.

Roses and stuff said...

Viola odorata is such an adorable flower. I don't mind its spreading habit since it's easily removed from unwanted spaces. if there are any unwanted spaces...

Janet said...

Beautiful tribute to the violet Niels. Glad to see you back. have convinced my fellow Learning Garden section to get some of the viola odorata. Can't wait til next spring.

Cynthia said...

Lovely post and pictures. I love the violets and only wish they would become weedy for me. I recently picked one up at a local plant sale and am hoping it does okay in my rather sunny garden. I would love for it to spread. They are actually medicinal as well.

As always, I enjoy your blog very much.