W&N watercolour in my Nature Journal 200gsm
Violet Family – Violaceae
African Violets are much loved amongst pot plant lovers, but this sketch is of some violets growing in my garden (Tarlton, South Africa), ‘viola odorata’, a delicate little violet flower on a long stem, easily picked and arranged in a small vase. And the more you pick them, the more prolific they grow.
This flower is native to Europe and Asia, but has also been introduced to other parts of the world. It is commonly known as Sweet Violet, English Violet, Common Violet, or Garden Violet. The sweet, unmistakable scent of this flower has proved popular throughout the generations, particularly in the late Victorian period, and has consequently been used in the production of many cosmetic fragrances and perfumes. The French are also known for their violet syrup, most commonly made from an extract of violets. In the United States, this French violet syrup is used to make violet scones and marshmallows.
Viola odorata is quite similar to other species of violet, but can be distinguished by the following characteristics:
- the flowers have a sweet scent,
- the flowers are normally either dark violet or white,
- the leaves and flowers are all in a basal rosette,
- the style is hooked (and does not end with a rounded appendage),
- the leaf-stalks have hairs which point downwards, and
- the plant spreads with stolons (above-ground shoots).