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This list has been Provided exclusively for the AVS by Peter Robinson

Amiral Avellan

Amiral Avellan

Raised by Leonard Lille at his nursery at Lyon (France) and introduced in 1893.   It’s named after the Russian Minister of Marine, when a Russian squadron under the command of Amiral Avellan arrived off Toulon, in the period leading up to the Franco-Russian agreement of October 13, 1893.

This cultivar has reddish purple flowers, which reputedly brighten as the season advances.   The flowers have a rather irregular shape and are very sweetly scented and are carried on stout erect stems.   At one time this was an immensely popular cultivar because it was an excellent garden variety that spreads fast, was neat and very hardy.


Baronne Alice Rothschild

Baronne Alice de Rothschild

A variety found in the gardens of the Rothschild estate at Hyeres in southern France.  Name after Lady Alice Rothschild by one of her gardeners.   It was said that the lawns of the villa were planted with thousands of violets.   Large blue flowers with long petals, and long stems.   It’s a good winter flowering violet, especial under glass as it then enjoys an extended flowering season.


An interesting violet which was raised by Emery Smith of California and first exported to Pitcher and Mander, Shortills ( New Jersey) in blocks of ice.   It is the   first cultivar of any great size.   Blooms are 2” across, on long stems.   It has suffered mixed fortunes over the years, mainly because it will not grow successfully in anything but light warm soils. The flowers are light violet blue, with long narrow petals, the upper two set wide apart and very fragrant.   Needs regular division if he plant is to maintain a neat graceful appearance.


Coeur d'Alsace
Photo Copyright: Clive Groves © 2000 All Rights Reserved.
Photo Courtesy of C. W. Groves & Son, Nurserymen, Dorset (UK)
Coeur d’Alsace

Introduced by Armand Millet in 1920, this violet was named to commemorate the unification of France with her lost territories following the First World War.   A seedling of ‘Rubra’ crossed with ‘Le Lilas’ with beautiful rosy pink flowers that are sweetly scented and borne on long stems.


Raised by F.   J. Graham at Cranforn, Middlesex (UK) during the latter half of the 19th century and introduced by Thomas Softly Ware (Tottenham and Feltham), Middlesex in 1863.   Deep purple long stemmed flowers, strongly scented, very free and reliable.

Czar Bleu

Another violet from the nursery of Armand Millet, raised in 1875 as a seedling of ‘Czar’.   It differs from the parent in that it has very firm, rounded petals, and it is darker in color though the scent is as pronounced, if a little more delicate.


If the violet that Don Garibaldi (Ano Nuevo Flower Growers, Pescadero, CA) is the ‘Giant,’ then the description is thus:

Raised by G.W. Boothby of Louth (Lincolnshire), England.   Deep purple blooms that up to 2’ across, produced more freely than ‘Czar.’

Irish Elegance

Supposedly a form of V. odorata ‘Sulphurea’ , with blooms that are a deeper shade of creamy buff, though this is not always the case.   The flowers are extremely variable with a vast number of differing colors reported and seen.   The change in color is probably related to the soil it is grown in.

John Raddenbury

Named after the first director of the Melbourne Botanic Gardens and introduced in the 1880s.   Bright mid blue flowers of a good form, it is vigorous and with good scent.   It can be a bit stingy with its flowers in autumn on certain soils, which can also produce a rosy flush to the flowers.

La France

Introduced in 1891 by Armand Millet.   A very fine violet.   It’s one of the largest in terms of flower size.   Very large dark violet-blue flowers on long rigid stems.   Its good compact habit is unusual in the larger flowered varieties.   It blooms early though in cooler districts it should be grown under glass.


One of the old, perpetual violets with deep color to the blooms, a free habit and very robust in cold weather.   The large flowers are dark bluish-purple, pointed in outline, and carried on long strong stems.   A very hardy variety that is resistant to pest and disease whilst still producing an abundance of flowers.

Madame Armandine Pages

Another perpetual violet introduced by Armand Millet in 1900.   Light rosy-pink flowers, fairly sweetly scented. Because of its smaller size and neat growth it is a very good violet for the rock garden.

Mrs. R. Barton

Grace Zambra named this violet after her cook whom she poached from the local hospital.   The blooms are white marked with violet, which appear heaviest toward the end of the flowering season.   Long stemmed with very free flowering and a good perfume.   Sometimes, wrongly named ‘Alassio.’


It originates in the Midi region (France).   This cultivar has carmine-violet   flowers which have good perfume and long stalks.   It’s a late blooming variety that thrives in a warm, sunny position, not suitable for cold regions.


Photo Copyright: Clive Groves © 2000 All Rights Reserved.
Photo Courtesy of C. W. Groves & Son, Nurserymen, Dorset (UK)


A lovely viole,t introduced around 1930, the blooms are quite unique in that they are lilac-mauve tinged with rosy pink and pale blue.   They are scented.   An excellent subject for a rock garden where to add impact, it should be given a prominent, carefully chosen spot.

Perle Rose

A cultivar that has been in existence since 1902 and one of the seed parents of ‘Coeur d’Alsace.’   It is supposed to be an improved form of odorata rubra, the improvement being in the color.   The flowers are deep coral pink, sweetly scented though appearing late in the season.   It has a compact habit and in milder climates it can bloom in March and April.


Princeses Alexandra
Photo Copyright: Clive Groves © 2000 All Rights Reserved.
Photo Courtesy of C. W. Groves & Son, Nurserymen, Dorset (UK)


Princess Alexandra

Probably named after Her Royal Highness, Princess Alexandra (eldest daughter of King Christian IX of Denmark) who married Edward, Prince of Wales in 1863.

The flowers are similar to ‘Amiral Avellan’ to which it is considered an improvement though it has a shorter season than ‘Amiral Avellan.’   It is larger, enjoying freer flowering and a unique perfume.

Princess de Galles

The most famous violet ever known and grown.   Giant, lilac-blue flowers often up to 2’ across with broad petals set close together.   They are borne on wiry stems of a very good length.   The flowers are very fragrant and vigorous.

Princess of Prussia

Named by its raiser, Mr. George Lee of Clevedon, Avon (UK) after Her Royal Highness Princess Victoria, eldest daughter of Queen Victoria who married Frederick, Emperor of Prussia in 1858.   Rich purple flowers on good stems, and with a nice perfume.

Quatre Saisons

A selection from the wild in cultivation since the 1700s, and originally grown for the markets of Paris.   Over the years, the early growers managed to obtain a fixed strain of this wilding.   In 1835, M. Jean Chevillon of Fontenay-aux-Roses, near Paris, obtained a ‘Quatre Saisons’ violet which was almost perfect.   It had dull violet colored flowers and a good perfume, all the qualities of a good cut flower and the form that exists today.

Queen Alexandra

Another cultivar named after Princess Alexandra, later wife of King Edward VII.   Large ultramarine flowers with a lovely perfume, on good long stems and an excellent early flowering variety.

Queen Charlotte

Introduced from Germany at the turn of the century and named after Charlotte Sophia, daughter of William Ferdinand, duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, who married George III.

Rawson’s White

Raised by the Reverend Arthur Rawson of Bromley (Kent) who was a leading amateur horticulturalist in the latter part of the 19th century.   Introduced by Henry Cannell and Sons, Swanley (Kent) in 1888.   Ivory white flowers, small and delicate with a good perfume and neat green foliage.   This violet is very free- flowering during the spring months.


Believed to be a selection of the pink form of the common violet.   Small, sweetly scented flowers favored with free flowering make a pretty addition to the rock garden.   Introduced by the distinguished French firm of Paillet of Chatenay around 1880.

Russian Superb

A profusely flowering violet that is at its best during the spring when it produces small purple scented flowers.   Something of an untidy plant if not kept well tended as it can produce numerous runners.

Saint Helena

A small, hardy violet with flowers of an indistinct pale blue, but with a stronger scent than any other garden violet.   The origins of this violet are something of a mystery, and described by Edward A. Bunyard as the “Riviera violet” though Gertrude Jekyll claimed that ‘it was given to her by an old lady’ in the village she lived in.   An unusual cultivar, giving its best in a rock garden.

Souvenir de ma Fille

Raised by Armand Millet in 1912 and named after his beloved daughter, Armandine, who had died on the 10th July of the same year although it was not introduced until 1914.   Lovely, intense blue flowers on long stems with a good perfume.   The flowers are nearly as big as those of ‘Princess of Galles’ and are produced in profusion especially under glass in colder districts.

Souvenir de Jules Josse

Supposedly introduced around the turn of the century by a grower in the Midi region of France.   Reddish-purple flowers with a distinct white eye, which are quite large and with a neat habit.

Tina Whitaker

Named after the wife of Joseph (Pip) Whitaker, who found it growing in the garden of their villa, Malfitone in Palermo, Sicily.   It would seem to have been sent to friends of the Whitakers in Kent (England) sometime around 1903.   It was eventually acquired by Mr. Baldwin Pinney on his nursery at Marehurst, nr Tonbridge (Kent) and exhibited at a meeting of the Royal Horticultural Society in 1922.

Flowers are huge and very fragrant, and of a pure amethyst color.   It makes a vigorous plant with many crowns although it needs to be grown in a frame to achieve good results.

Victoria Regina

The original was a true “Russian” violet, a cross between ‘Czar’ and ‘Devoniensis’ raised by George Lee in 1873.   Large violet-purple flowers, which can fade to a dark blue with age.   It is an early violet with long stems, forming a medium sized sturdy plant.   Named after Queen Victoria whom Lee sent a bunch every year on her birthday.


Named after the famous nursery of Grace and George Zambra where it originated in the 1930s.   A sport from ‘Lianne’ with rich rosy-red flowers, very sweetly scented, and on good stems.   It is a prolific grower with a lovely color that does well under glass.


Raised by Mr. Wells who was a gardener at Fern Hills, near Windsor and introduced in 1889.   An improved form of ‘Czar Bleu,’ it is an extremely robust and sturdy plant with mid-blue flowers.


Countess of Shaftesbury

Raised by J.J. Kettle at Corfe Muller (Dorset) and introduced in 1928.   It was reputedly found growing as a seedling amongst a bed of ‘Princess de Galles,’ which is almost certainly the parent.   The cultivar was named after the wife of the 9th Earl of Shaftesbury, a near neighbor of Kettle’s.   Large, bluish-purple flowers which have a very attractive center rosette of blue and rose.   It is highly scented on long stems though it can be something of a straggly plant.

Mrs. David Lloyd George

Mrs. David Lloyd George

Introduced in 1915 and named after the wife of the future Prime Minister who obviously, enjoyed the support of the Kettle family.   Another very attractive cultivar with violet-blue outer petals and an inner rosette of white and lavender, highly scented flowers on long stems and with neat, vibrant green foliage.

Reine des Blanches

The cultivar sold under this name would appear to be somewhat different to the one originally introduced. Given the descriptions we have for it, this semi-double form, as it exists today, suggests that quite possibly, it is not the original version.


Blanche de Chevreuse

An interesting violet in that the buds which are a blush pink, open to reveal pure white blooms which are flushed with pink in the center as it ages. A good variety for producing late spring flowers under glass. It does not produce many runners and is therefore, a very neat plant. Unfortunately, this violet is susceptible to mildew, which is its only real flaw.

Comte de Chambord

This variety has very large blooms for a double violet. Although the color is rather disappointing (a dirty white) it is scented and hardy, and it performs best in spring with a few odd blooms in the fall, if you are lucky. Listed sometimes as 'French Grey.'

Double Blue

An ancient cultivar, grown for centuries and possessing a charm all of its own, re-introduced around twenty-five years ago. While it does not appear in commercial catalogs it is believed it is still around. At the beginning of the XIX century, the French tried to grow this violet for the markets but it was found to be "not pleasing in bunches."

Double Rose

Another of the ancient cultivars, and known for centuries. The flowers are a coppery red. An extremely rare violet and jealously guarded in a few private collections. As is the case of other old varieties, it produces an abundance of seed.

Double White

This is the cultivar that has wrongly been named 'Hopleys White' or 'Hopleys Double White' and mentioned by such luminaries as Sir Francis Bacon. A good violet that is very hardy, compact and produces an abundance of seed. A lovely violet for any collection.

Note 1:   Violets were sold in bunches in the markets of Paris from around the beginning of the 19th century.   They had been deliberately planted in “beds” from 1750 with the intention of growing them for sale.    Before this, they had been gathered in the woods surrounding Paris for herbal medicines, for drying and for making pomades and other uses.   It was during the middle of the 18th century that “commercial” growers around Paris realized that money could be made from violets, and between 1750 and 1780 the wild violets were grown commercially and selections made from them.   These were known as ‘quatre saisons’ (four seasons) violets.   There were selected for their different colors amongst other things.   The town of Vincennes, Charenne, Bagnolet, Saint-Cloud, and Massy Palaseou were involved in this early flower production, with the main center at Fresnes les Rungis, and this later moved to the south of Paris to what is today regarded as the traditional home of the violet, namely Chatenay, Bourg la Reine and Fontenay aux Roses.   It would be some years before other violets upstaged the ‘Quatre Saisons’ at the markets, though it should also be noted that in the South of France, early forms of the Parma violet were already being grown.

© American Violet Society 2000
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