You simply can’t help but smile at the Viola’s sunny heart-shaped face in your garden!
Large flowers, small flowers, pink, black, orange, blue with yellow and white, scented or unscented, with a roguish eye or with stripes, there’s a Viola to suit any mood. They flower early in the spring so that they bring colour to your garden early on and keep blooming for a while. By the time they’re exhausted, the first late summer and autumn bloomers are already starting their display. That makes the Viola an ideal garden companion: lots of flowers, lots of colour, little work.
There are more than 500 species, which mainly occur in the northern hemisphere in moderate regions, often in damp places with some shade. Violas are also able to grow between tiles: they really are indefatigable. Violas have their own family, and are the largest group within the Violaceae. The modern day Viola is derived from two very old species, the Quatre Saisons and the Russian violet.
The ancient Greeks and Romans cultivated them for lotions and Vinum Violatum, a viola wine.
In Shakespeare’s 'A Midsummer Night's Dream the 'juice of heartsease' (an English name for the viola) is rubbed onto the eyelids of someone who is asleep. As a result they fall madly in love with the first person they see when they wake.
You can eat Violas that have been specially grown for human consumption - they look great in a salad.
The Viola is the symbol of humility.
In perfumes the Viola is ‘the flirty note’ which comes and goes.