Monday, 25 February 2013

The Not So Shrinking Violet

Yesterday I emerged from my sunday morning lie-in to be greeted by a trio of cavorting canines, who, having spotted that I wasn't dressed for the office, naturally assumed it was "walkies" time.

So I donned my fleece, my coat, thermal gloves, warm hat and woolly scarf and stepped out into the coldest, most bitterly ear-biting weather I've experienced for a long time.

violets in a grass verge february 2013
30 yards or so down the road I was greeted by a cluster of tiny purple faces peeping out of the grass.  The wild violets in the roadside verge beside our church were defying the weather and blooming prettily to cheer up anyone brave enough to be out of doors on such an inhospitable day.

The dog violet, the most widespread of the wild violets is a food source for the frittilary butterfly and takes pride of place underneath the copper beech hedge in my garden.   I didn't plant it there, it just arrived, and I'm very glad it did.

As soon as I arrived home, I delved into my enormous pile of wild flower books and found my copy of "The Weeders Digest" by Gail Harland.  Where I discovered to  my delight, that violet flowers are edible.

The Romans, allegedly were partial to a glass of two of violet wine and our medieval ancestors used them to make a kind of a pudding.  Violet flowers can also be sprinkled over chocolate cakes as an edible decoration (NOW you're talking!) or they can be used to make a syrup to pour over ice-cream.  As a small child, my daughter loved to snack on parma violets...I'm guessing that violet syrup would taste similar.

Sadly, there are not enough flowers at the end of the lane to make anything with at the moment...although I'm hoping there will be more blooms when the weather warms up....so here is a recipe to ponder while we wait.

Sweet Violet Syrup
2 cups violet petals
285 ml boiling water
680g sugar

  1. put the petals in a glass or china bowl.  Pour the boiling water over the flowers and leave to infuse overnight
  2. the next day, strain the water into a saucepan and stir in the sugar.  Bring the liquid to a gentle rolling boil until thick and syrupy.  Bottle in sterile glass jars, and seal.

If you'd like to introduce more wild flowers into your own garden, come and visit the Q Lawns stand E188 at the Homebuilding and Renovating Show from 21-24 March 2013 at the NEC near Birmingham.  Or take a look at www.meadowmat.com/what_is_meadowmat

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