Each fortnight I have a chat with Sonya Feldhoff on ABC Radio about the botanical history of a different flower. We explore their origins, the myths and folklore surrounding them, correspondences which may be of interest to the listeners as well as medicinal, culinary, cosmetic and magickal uses of each.
At present, I'm getting a lot of email asking for more information about these flowers and I thought I'd open up a few blog posts so we have a place to keep this information. I will come back and add to these posts over time so if you are intetesed in a particular flower, you may wish to bookmark it.
This week, Violets (Viola) because we had such an interest in the connections of these and The Emperor Napoleon and Empress Josephine.
All violets: modesty, “pure and sweet art thou’”
Sweet (Blue): faithfulness
Dames Violet: Watchfulness
Dog’s Violet: First love
Purple Violet: You occupy my thoughts
White violet: purity of sentiment
Yellow violet: rare worth and rural happiness
50th Anniversary Flower (as are Yellow Roses)
Day of the Week ~ Thursday
a Zodiac Flower of those born under Pisces, Libra, Capricorn or Taurus
The official flower of the USA State of New Jersey
Myths & Folklore:
Cupid loved violets (which were originally all white) and the Goddess Venus, in a fit of meanest turned them blue after he told her they were even more beautiful than her, so they wouldn’t be so lovely.Zeus had a mistress named Io and so he could hide her from his wife, he turned her into a cow and created violets for her to eat as they are so lovely.
An old Greek belief is that it is an indication that the deceased had settled into paradise if violet, marjoram or rose grow particularly well on their grave.
In England it was believed to be very unlucky to pick the very first violets of spring. You must wait until there at least 12.
Wearing a wreath of violets will prevent deception. Southern England.
In many Northern European cultures they are thought to foretell misfortune. If taken into a house, they would cause bad luck or if taken into barn or heinous, for al the animals to die.
During the European Plague it was strongly believed that their scent attracted fleas and so this may account for these superstitions.
To dream of violets is a good sign meaning a change in luck for the better or advancement. It can also mean you will marry someone younger than you!
Most types originate from the Northern Hemisphere but there are species found in Australia, the Pacific and even South America.
During the First World War, 2nd July was proclaimed as ‘Violet Day’ in Australia and small posies and badges were sold to raise funds to assist the families of the fallen and those who returned. This tradition continued until 1928.
The Purple Violet was the symbol for the city of Athen over 2,000 years ago.
They were favourite of the Empress Josephine and Napoleon had them planted on her grave. Violets were adopted as the symbol of the Imperial Napoleonic Party and when Napoleon was sent into exile he famously said he was return with the violets of spring. He was toasted by his supporters in secret as ‘Caporal Violette’ On his death, a locket was found containing a lock of Josephine's hair and pressed violets.
Medicinal Folk Remedies:
The scent is said to sooth headache, induce sleep and peacefulness. Wearing them is suppose to prevent dizziness, to comfort a broken heart and to calm ones temper.
The Ancient Greeks made wreaths to wear for this purpose.
Necklaces of violets are thought to prevent one become inebriated.
*Check with a qualified herbalists but, Violets are used for cough suppression, to treat insomnia snd there is even research being undertaken due to the high level of very specific anti-oxidants they contain with the hope of finding use in the treatment viral conditions.
Violets prefer cool to warm climates, and wilt a bit in mid-summer heat.
In warmer areas, we recommend partial shade. They tolerate a variety of soils. Add a general purpose fertilizer when planting them, then once a month after that.
Soil should be moist, but not wet. Water them during dry periods, once or twice per week. Keep them well weeded.
Remove spent blooms to promote additional blooms and extend the blooming period. This will also keep the appearance neat and beautiful.
Violet are hardy annuals. They will often survive the first frost if it is light. They will not survive a hard frost or freeze.