The Violet Gazette
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Written by:  Norma Beredjiklian.
© 1995, 2000 All Rights Reserved.

Volume 1, Number 2
Spring 2000
On line Version


Violets on the Rebound

             Norma Beredjiklian, AVS officer and Editor of both Violet Gazette and the E-zine The Republic of Violet, writes independently about violet history and design, dogs, tech talk and women's issues from her "Hiddenbrook Cottage" in Herndon, Virginia.

  A shame to pick it
A shame to leave it -
The violet.
by Nao-jo
(dates unknown)

             As we speak, the first violets of spring can be seen in backyards, front lawns and woodlands. Personally, they never fail to remind me of a few of its unabashed American lovers: Thomas Jefferson, First Gardener and third president of the United States who grew them at Monticello, his home estate in Virginia; Eleanor Roosevelt, the beloved First Lady who wore violet bouquets at her husband's inaugurations, and the famous Gibson Girl, who displayed them on her hat whenever she attended her husband's trial for murder. Much has been written about these and other celebrities' predilection for violets, including that of our own mothers, grandmothers and great-grandmothers, who grew them, and delighted in giving their friends fresh, fragrant bouquets of violets, and sending violet-themed postcards.

             All that was then, you'd say. What about violets now?

Well, I'm pleased to report what many of us already know: violets are back. They're on the rebound, and triumphantly, after years of neglect, omission from horticultural reviews, and virtual disappearance from the marketplace. The catastrophes brought upon many lands by the 20th century's two world wars, the high costs of cultivation, the loss of expertise, the inevitable fashion shifts, etc. they have all been cited as main reasons for the violet's demise. Fortunately, the flower's allure has lingered and survived all the way into our new millennium. A renewed interest in heirloom flowers and wildflowers as well as a new focus on the arts of gardening, landscape design and other related disciplines, have made violets the "hot" flower to grow, research and incorporate in our gardens.

             Case in point: in recent years several national and international gardening magazines have discussed the "forgotten" violet and praised the few, heroic (or stubborn) plantspeople dedicated to keep it alive. Among the latest of such reviews I commend the February/March 2000 issue of the French Magazine Maisons Cote Sud for featuring Ellia Ascheri's "Un amour de violettes." (A love for violets). This beautifully illustrated article talks about the violet in Italy, brings to light the country's historical methods of cultivation, and introduces present-day violet growers in the area surrounding Udine. When reading articles such as this one, I become acutely aware of how much has been accomplished and in so few years, by the former International Violet Association and its successors, The American Violet Society and the IVA (Europe) through their hard work on behalf of violets. I'm proud to say this work will continue in the future.

             On this side of the Atlantic and in the first quarter of this year, new developments connected with the Violet bring us additional delight. Following AVS Board Member Kim Blaxland's comprehensive and much expected review of Native Violets in the March/April issue of The American Gardener--published by The American Horticultural Society (Alexandria, Virginia)-the AHS Chief Horticulturist and curator, Ms. Janet Walker, announced her next project, that is, a National Collection of North American Violets to be housed at the AHS' River Farm grounds, near Washington, D.C. This collection will include cultivated and native varieties. Ms. Walker's effort is the first of its kind in the United States. It deserves our full cooperation and applause as it matches The American Violet Society's mission and goals for 2000 and beyond: to restore the violet's deserved role in the horticultural and environmental landscape.

             Furthermore, The American Violet Society has extended its area of interest to other popular members of the genus Viola: violas and pansies. The AVS is also committed to offer its membership and general public a website that is a true gateway to the world of violets, unique and replete with archival and pictorial information provided both by recognized experts in the field and the enthusiastic membership. The Violet Gazette (in its online and offline versions) is a very important part of this enterprise. As in the past, it will provide the best and most accurate information available on the topic of violets, violas and pansies.

We hope you'll enjoy this Spring Issue and become part of the Violet rebound movement! 

Best wishes for a Happy and violet-filled Spring!


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