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Violets In The Press
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Latest Update: 27 July 2000

             The AVS is very pleased to bring you some press clippings concerning violets found along the way including foreign countries. We welcome your contributions to this section.  Just send us an email to:

LA NACION (Argentina's foremost newspaper)
"Countries" supplement
(Buenos Aires, Argentina, 16 September 2000) 

            The following article by Cristina L. de Bugatti (garden columnist), was published last September 16 in the supplement "Countries" of LA NACION. The American Violet Society has been granted the required authorization to translate it and republish it on its web site by the Editors of LA NACION (Buenos Aires, Argentina).


by Cristina L. de Bugatti, for La Nacion (Buenos Aires, Argentina)
September 16, 2000

(Translated from the Spanish by Norma Beredjiklian)

- It is said this species became Bonaparte's royal symbol
- Associations and other entities around the world intent on rescuing them from oblivion
- Violet's role in the kitchen also under study

               In an article featured many years ago in The Garden and Its Plants , the excellent Argentine Society of Horticulture' magazine, Mercedes Seré de Posadas made reference to the fact that "the most astonishing and lasting cult of violets took place during Napoleon's exile beginning at the Isle of Elba from where Napoleon assured his followers that he would return in the Spring, with the violets. From there on, the violet became Bonaparte's symbol and the emblem for all of those who wished his return. Violet bunches were openly worn in his honor. Newly created remembrances and violet accessories were into the market, and toasts for Caporal Violette -- who would return with the spring -- were heard everywhere. When historical facts confirmed such predictions, the women in the South of France welcomed Bonaparte with violet bunches and the triumphant welcome was duplicated in Paris upon his arrival in March 1814. The violet cult was kept alive but diminished during the Bourbon restoration, however, as soon as the Second Empire was in place, it was revived and led by Empress Eugenie (wife of Napoleon III). Empress Eugenie was herself an ardent violet fancier who sponsored and expanded this Napoleonic fashion reaching its peak at the funeral of her son, the Imperial Prince."

             I venture to say that the cult of violet still lives. As a result of a previous piece on violets in this section, I received a phone call followed by several e-mails from Norma Beredjiklian, an Argentine who has been a resident in the USA for several years - she lives in Washington, DC - telling me about The American Violet Society's activities and objectives: to promote the knowledge and cultivation of the genus Viola (violets, violas and pansies).

             The American Violet Society is a very important entity, with numerous members in the United States and the rest of the world. They hold workshops and international symposia. Past meetings have taken place in Washington, DC, San Francisco, Devon (U.K.) and Toulouse, France. Actually, it was in Toulouse, Medieval Capital of the Violet that Norma was inducted as Chevalier Premier Stolon into the city's violet fraternity, Confrerie de la Violette.

             The study of violets includes many disciplines. The main focus is on landscaping, gardening, its history and inclusion in the Arts and traditions as well as ethnobotanical uses by Native Americans among others. One new area of interest and development is the violet's culinary attributes which are, at present, being conducted by Debbie Whittaker, the AVS Viola Chef, and a famous herb gourmet.

             The AVS also offers the Violet Gazette, a journal that is charmingly designed and features important contributions from violet fanciers around the world.

             The information reaching us is clear and loud: violets are coming back. And because violet experts suspect some of the old and popular varieties have been lost, the AVS has launched a campaign to actively look for them in places where urban development might have respected certain interests and values: in Australia, in old cemeteries, in countries where violets were cultivated at one time, and even where there's no specific tradition around violet cultivation.

Violet Enthusiasts

             In her last email, Norma mentions Kim Blaxland, an Australian and a world known violet expert. Ms. Blaxland has recently traveled through the Andean areas of Chile and Argentina searching for wild violets.

             On the subject of violets and the information received, it's important to point out the presence of a neighbor, a physician living in Palomar (who also contacted me) and great violet enthusiast, even though he belongs to another organization.

             Norma proposes we join The American Violet Society. In fact, she's got several Spanish speaking members and is preparing a web page in Spanish.

             If you are interested, please contact The American Violet Society at:

             To access the Violet Gazette, please browse to: The American Violet Society Website at:

             The one violet I mentioned in my previous piece, the Viola parmensis odoratus, appears to be one of the lost varieties. I think that alone is a good incentive to form an Argentine Violet Society. Wouldn't that be good?"

The Washington Post
(Washington, D.C., Thursday, 20 July 2000)
World News, page A16

            In "Pop Icon Joins Evita as Argentina 'Saint'," Anthony Faiola, Washington Post Foreign Service Correspondent, reports from South America on the new type of celebrity cult which is gaining popularity these days:

            "Vicenta Gamarra, 62, walked reverently among the oversized crosses and religious offerings at a roadside shrine, clutching a bouquet of violets brought in homage to the saint with the punk blue hair. She rested the flowers on the very spot where Rodrigo "The Colt" Bueno, a wildly popular Argentine pop music star, was killed in a car crash after a hell-raising show and, if the Buenos Aires coroner's office is to be believed, more than one can of beer."

             Note from the Editor: Violet offerings to the dead is a ritual as old as time and still practiced by many cultures around the world. In this case, however, we suspect that since violets are not available at florist shops in Buenos Aires, the lady in question possibly made use of violets growing wild in that vicinity (Berazategui in the outskirts of Buenos Aires). One gets the impression the writer, much impressed by the simplicity and sincerity of this offering, chose to open his account of the event with this moving image.

LA NACION (Argentina's foremost newspaper)
"Countries" supplement
(Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1 July 2000) 

             The following article by Cristina L. de Bugatti (garden columnist), was published in the supplement "Countries" of LA NACION, (Argentina's foremost newspaper), on July 1, 2000. The American Violet Society has been granted the required authorization to translate it and republish it by the Editors of LA NACION (Buenos Aires, Argentina).

 A Nostalgia for Violets
by Cristina L. de Bugatti, for La Nacion (Buenos Aires, Argentina)
July 1, 2000

(Translated from the Spanish by Norma Beredjiklian)

             Evidently, commercial nurseries are achieving miracles these days with regard to garden plants. The right, wise use of temperature, light and humidity, in addition to proper soils and complying seeds willing to perform and produce as it is expected from them, have all conspired to erase the well known seasonal differences. As a result, we are now able to find plants year round.

             Given the new environments, it is quite possible that a few violets would dare to bloom in this far away garden. They refuse to flower in my house, but I still offer them my un-requited love. My rational explanation for their negative behavior is based on the suspicion that the soil in my lot has reached a high acidity level. A result, perhaps, of my attempts to improve the gravel-filled lot with excessive organic matter?

             Those folks who like to record all types of trivia, affirm that not too long ago, violets grew and bloomed in rustic sidewalks in the neighborhood of Flores (Buenos Aires) but later on, their fragility forced them to move away, and who knows where! Lately, we have even noted their absence in the sidewalks of Los Cardales. My cousins, who live in Mercedes (in the province of Buenos Aires) - and with whom I share a few family eccentricities --have discovered a few violet-filled fields in Roque Perez. They go there on special excursions, just to watch them lovingly until the day they also disappear from that spot.

             Of course, violets do exist and the French, once in a while, exhibit new varieties. Among those I am familiar with are the little, wild ones, of a deep blue color and very fragrant. Also, light blue and white ones, with long stems.

             Years ago, it was possible to find in our local gardens a variety we called 'Princess of Wales.' It was big, simple, with a pale pastel color, with long, strong stems, and very fragrant. There is another one, which I can only find in the locality of Mercedes: a low plant, of small heart-shaped leaves with big, white, double flowers and weak stems that can hardly support it, and a heady fragrance. It's the 'v. Parmensis odoratus, or Parma Violet (sic!), the only one whose perfume, I believe, modern chemistry has never been able to replicate.

             Well, enough! In these times of floral abundance, such nostalgic thoughts can be harmful.

The American Gardener Celebrates The Violet

             The March/April 2000 issue of The American Gardener, the prestigious American Horticultural Society's publication, celebrates our violet this spring with a comprehensive article on Native Violets written by Kim Blaxland, AVS Board Member, plant collector, author and photographer from Pennsylvania. This review includes contributions to the subject matter by Mike Hardman (AVS - Taxonomy Advisor). Congratulations to both Ms. Blaxland and Mike Hardman!

             The Native Violets theme is introduced by H. Marc Cathey, AHS' President Emeritus who recalls his childhood days picking violets in North Carolina, however, the golden brooch to this excellent feature is found on the last page with "Old, New, Borrowed, Blue" written by AHS' Chief Horticulturist, Janet Walker. Ms. Walker tells us how she came about to accept violets and grow them (thanks to the good tips from her friend and AVS member, Pippa Fog) and shares with us her new project: to curate a violet national collection at the AHS' River Farm in Alexandria, Virginia. For all purposes, this will be the first such collection in North America. A long cherished dream come true for many of us at the AVS, we are more than delighted at this prospect, and are able and ready to provide Ms. Walker with every resource and assistance. An accessible violet collection, set in varied landscaping environments will no doubt become a "mecca" for all violet enthusiasts around the world. Bravo, AHS!

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