A Bavarian Violet?

This fabulous warm spell lasted all week, and two days ago the first violets were spotted at the bottom of the garden…


I grow several different types of Violas in the garden beds, which mostly flower a little later. These are in the lawn and must be wild dog violets,Β Viola riviniana, as they don’t smell like Sweet Violets, Viola odorata.


…or are they? They do look so much like sweet violets.

I had a look at various sites on the internet and found that apparently dog violets hybridise with another darker viola (Viola reichenbachiana), which results in the Viola bavarica. A Bavarian violet! How lovely!

They are all very similar (to my eye at least), but the Bavarian one has a pale violet-coloured spur, whereas V. riviniana has a white spur and V. reichenbachiana a dark violet one. I’d like to think I have a Bavarian violet in my garden, as it would be fitting, but on taking a closer look mine still resemble Viola odorata most of all.


So why do they smell only very faintly? Any violet experts out there?!

Do you see wild violets near your home?

By the way, looking back at past spring photos I can say we are a full month ahead of last year, bloom-wise, if not more. And one or two weeks ahead of 2012 too!


44 thoughts on “A Bavarian Violet?

    • Air pollution is not an issue in my local region – in fact we live in an area designated as a “Luftkurort”, which is something like a climatic health resort!

  1. The more you smell Viola odorata, the less it will smell, somehow it stops the olfactory nerves from working after the first sniff! We have lots of violets in the garden here, they seed everywhere and I have found out that if the leaves are near where the Silver Washed Fritillary butterfly lays its eggs in the bark of trees, the caterpillars hatch out, come down the bark and feast on the violet leaves!

    • I’ve heard that about numbing the nerves too, so it must be true! It’s great when you find such a connection between plants and wildlife in your own little space. We have a little piece of woodland just beyond our garden and I discovered some Honesty growing there a few years ago – and only days later noticed several Orange Tip butterflies which apparently feed on it. I was so pleased when I then read that the Orange Tip caterpillars like garlic mustard plants which I had specifically left standing near our old compost heap!

  2. The violets are lovely! What a splendid sign of spring! It is crazy warm this weekend, in the low 70’s which is warmer than our summers! I will be out digging in my little patio herb garden, taking inventory and weeding. Happy Spring!

  3. Gosh! We get a lot of violets round here but I never knew there were different varieties …how ignorant of me, as there must be variations on every type of plant. They always make me think of fairies as I used to have a fairy activity book, and it had a recipe in it for violet biscuits πŸ™‚

    You have some truly beautiful close ups there, and in dazzling sunshine – yey!

    • Thanks – the sunshine was wonderful and warming. I always think of violet pastels that we occasionally ate as children… Violet biscuits sound nice!

      • I don’t think I ever made them in the end, but I’m sure they would have been very tasty – the fairies wouldn’t have got a recipe wrong, surely?!
        And those pastels … parma violets, weren’t they? Not sure if I liked those or not … very floral!

  4. I was never too good at detecting violet scents, pansies were the only ones which I could ever get a smell out of….. and even then it was only when I stepped into a greenhouse full! Maybe you are also among the violet-scent impaired 😦 sorry.

    • As long as it’s restricted to just violets…. I couldn’t imagine not being able to smell my peonies, the elderflowers or the lavender!

    • It doesn’t matter what type it is really, but I sometimes get inquisitive! The ones I grow in my flower beds don’t smell at all either…

  5. All violets are wonderful and we’re lucky because they grow wild en masse on our land (white and blue ones). The other day I treated myself to Viola odorata Charentes and the one plant filled the bag with such a strong perfume…that I almost drove into the ditch on the way home πŸ˜‰

    • LOL! I have also bought a new one (no name) and it smelt almost unpleasantly strong in the warm car… I can at least smell that one in the garden!

  6. It sounds as if your blooms are well advanced Cathy. I don’t think that we are that far ahead here but must look back on photos. That violet is such a glorious colour whatever its identity. Here the wild ones grow like weeds πŸ™‚

    • I saw a lot around the village yesterday, all the same as mine with barely a hint of scent… The colour and shape still makes it a dear little flower though. πŸ˜€

    • I wonder if any of your neighbours have them…. if so it won’t be long before they turn up in your garden too, but they are one of those plants that choose their spot carefully!

  7. We have lots of pretty Purple and also White ones all over this piece of land but usually they are quick to be replaced with grass or maybe I mow them 😦 When I mow the area between the house and river the scent is breathtaking not a fresh cut grass smell but wonderful scents from all the rest of the plants and grasses that make up the land here I never see mowing as a chore πŸ™‚ I wonder is I bought a Highland cattle calf if she would love it too πŸ™‚

    • When I talk to my Mum in England we compare constantly what has flowered in our respective gardens. I only seem to have come across wild violets since living in Bavaria though, so they must love the soil in this area!

  8. I’m catching up reading blogs tonight and I see where your pretty violets in a vase came from. These are lovely deep color and stand out perfectly in the sunshine. So you’re an entire month ahead on your blooms–wow! Enjoy them all.

  9. I adore violets, I have them in pink, purple, apricot and white. My favourite though is the wild Viola odrata which I didn’t plant but which comes up everywhere in my garden. What an exquisite but elusive perfume. Have you tried crystallising them? They are delicious.

    • All of my violets have spread around – especially the creamy yellow ones, but I agree, the wild ones are special. I’d love a pink one some day! I have never used them for cooking but do like the flavour. πŸ˜€

  10. I definitely do not see wild violets, Cathy, and they are just so beautiful. I have some indoor African Violets that give me pleasure. I don’t think they have any fragrance! I love the way the little violets are popping up in the leaves. Great photos. πŸ™‚

    • Thanks Debra. My Mum always has an African violet or two in the house, but I have never been very successful with houseplants! The wild violets are more transient and only flower for a few weeks.

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