Friday, 18 March 2016

Sweet white violets

I love seeing the brief white carpet of flowers early each year. It is a real sign of things starting to warm-up. This edible plant is only here for a couple of weeks and loves partial shade. The plants on our farm love growing along ancient hedgerows.

Violets under the hedgerow

Sweet violets (Viola ordata) are a fragrant native wild flower that creeps and hugs the ground with heart-shaped leaves. It also grows in Europe, Asia, Canada, the US and Australia. The flowers are white or blue-violet in colour. They make excellent food for the larvae of Lepidoptera  (moths and butterflies).

It has a very romantic history in folklore with the Greeks using it to make perfume and is a symbol of love and fertility, the Romans used it for brewing wine, as herbal remedies, in festivals, to sweeten food, the ancient Britons created cosmetics from violets and in medieval France it is a sign of deep love.

The flowers and leaves are edible and high in vitamin A and C. They can be cooked as greens or used in salads. Flowers can be made into jellies and are very pretty candied or frozen in ice-cubes.

Common names include sweet violet, English violet, Wood violet,  March violet and sweet pansy. I hope you like them as much as I do.

How I use violets in my work