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Sunday, 14 May 2017

A Potted History of the Violet...

Violet posy
Violets used to be cultivated in Starcross. The leaves of the flower known as Butterburr were used to make posies, which were boxed and put on the trains to Covent Garden Market. All that remains of the violet industry in Starcross is the almond-scented Butterburr; abundant in the Starcross hedgebanks.
Butterburr is also known as Coltsfoot. During World War 2, the leaves were dried and smoked as a tobacco substitute. Was Butterburr more or less likely to cause cancer than tobacco? 

Starcross Butterburr hedgebank Petasites fragrans

Devon Violet Nursery at Ottery St Mary is one of the few nurseries in the country who specialise [today] in growing sweet violets. [They] also have many other gifts for sale such as hand-made Devon Violet Soaps, Bath Bombs/Salts, Violet Perfume, Essential Oils, Candles, Incense, Napkins, Glassware, Pots and associated dried grasses.

 A Potted History of the Violet...  
The Viola Odorata was one of the first flowering plants to be grown commercially. It was noted that they were for sale in Athens 400BC being grown in specialist Nurseries in Attica. Throughout the centuries Violets have been a favourite flower, either for their perfume which scented the rooms and floors or their medicinal qualities which are still being researched today (eg. Viola Yedoensis).Most perfumes of Violets today are synthetic of course but the perfume evokes such nostalgic memories for so many people. Dawlish in Devon was the most important centre for the cultivation of Violets in 1916 and a special train ran from Cornwall to London carrying all the flowers on their way to Covent Garden Market every day. By 1936 there was a flourishing trade from this area and flowers were sent regularly to the Queen and ladies at the Court. During the war years the land was requisitioned for the growing of food,and Violets went out of fashion, sadly never to return. Until now. A lot of the old varieties have been lost, but [the Devon Violet Nursery is] are slowly bringing back as many as [they] can into [their] catalogue every year, so [they] are doubly proud of [their] efforts to reintroduce this nostalgic little flower back into our gardens and preserve a little of our English History at the same time.

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