Photo: Marko Kivelä
Violets are old-fashioned little flowers and are botanical parents of the larger, showier pansies that bloom in warmer states like Florida in December.
The writer, Emily Dickinson loved wild flowers, and like the Victorians, she associated violets with modesty and fidelity.
These shy flowers inspired Emily to write poetry praising their courage; she identified with their vulnerability. However, many gardeners nowadays are not charmed by the common violet and do not allow it in their flower beds.
Nevertheless, the perfume of violets and their diminutive flower forms continue to inspire those who produce toiletries and greeting cards and floral decorative items. A posy of violets symbolizes sweet gentility and femininity.
It is interesting that the violet is the state flower of four American states, second in popularity only to the rose. Illinois chose it in 1908, New Jersey in 1913, Wisconsin in 1949 and Rhode Island in 1968.
Violets also grew in the woods and pastures of Medieval Europe, and chopped salads of wild onions and the weedy-type violet “Viola tricolor” were eaten at feasts. It seems appropriate that in a democracy even weeds can be state emblems.