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The violet is the birth flower of February. One of my favorite things to do is to admire the soft petals of a traditional blue violet. The swirling shades of blue and purple are mesmerizing. The fragrance exuded by these flowers is another side benefit of making them a part of your garden. This week, I’m thinking about the long history of this intriguing bloom. Enjoy!
A Little About the Violet
Way back in 500 B.C., the ancient Greeks were growing violets. These flowers were seen in many types of festivals as well as at funerals. Greeks and Romans used them in wine, foods, and medicines. They even made a love potion with violets. It should come as no surprise, then, that this bloom shows up in many Greek legends. The popularity of this versatile flower has endured through the centuries.
Are All Violets Violet?
The answer to this question is no. Many people picture a traditional bluish-purple bloom when they hear the word “violet,” but this flower comes in many other colors, including cream, yellow, pure white, and blue. Some violets have petals that feature two colors, such as blue and yellow or a powder blue/dark blue combination. All of the colorful combinations make violets a standout in any garden or window box. I like to plant a collection of traditional blue violets in my garden with one cluster of yellow violets in the center of the group. This makes for a dramatic picture!
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Where Do Violets Grow?
There are more than 500 species of this lovely five-petaled bloom. Most violets grow in the Northern Hemisphere or in Australia. You’re likely to be familiar with the blue violets that are plentiful here in America. In fact, they can be seen growing from Maine all the way to Florida.
Caring for Your Blooms
Violets grow in moist areas where they can enjoy partial shade. Choose a spot in your garden with well-drained soil that isn’t too sunny. An area of your garden that receives shade from a nearby tree can be an ideal location for your violets. Provide four to eight inches of space between the violets in your garden so they have room to grow. These flowers need a moderate amount of water to flourish. Pinching off their dead blooms will help with healthy regrowth.
Violet Facts You May Not Know
- A blue violet symbolizes faithfulness, while a cream violet conveys the message, “Take a chance!”
- African violets aren’t really violets. They belong to a family known as Gesneriaceae.
- The violet is the state flower of Illinois.
- Violets and Napoleon Bonaparte have a connection in history. After being exiled to Elba, Bonaparte stated he would be back before the violets bloomed. This is how he earned the name “Corporal Violet.”
- Violets contain a lot of vitamin C and are sometimes incorporated into desserts, garnishes, and other dishes. Violet syrup is just one example of a tasty creation you can make with these flowers.
Enjoy your violets in all colors and forms!