The month of June was very special for me as President of The American Violet
Society. In my travels to the East Coast I was able to see Viola odorata
in the Bishop's Garden at the National Cathedral, in The Herb Garden at The
National Arboretum, and in the Enid Haupt Garden at The Smithsonian in
Washington DC. Across the Potomac River, in Norma Beredjiklian's garden
located in Herndon, Virginia. While in the New York area, at the New York
Botanical Gardens, The Brooklyn Botanic Gardens and Central Park in New York
City; and in sidewalk gardens in Brooklyn. And on my excursion to the Hudson
River Valley area, growing wild against a stone wall at the home of Kay
Verrilli in Rhinebeck, New York.
Granted, I was looking for violets in all these places, but I DID find
them everywhere I looked. Oh, did I forget to mention the herb gardens
at The Cloisters (New York)?.
As satisfying and enjoyable as it is to discover violets, the highlight
of my trip was my visit to the town of Rhinebeck, New York, and the
former Center of the Violet Industry in America from 1895 to 1950. My
host and guide was Kay Verrilli, with whom the former IVA had had
correspondence in 1997 when she executed an exhibit of the History of
the Violet Industry at the Rhinebeck's historic Quitman House.
Verrilli at historical violet display
housed at E.A. Coon Florist
Rhinebeck, New York (June 2000)
Courtesy of Annebelle Rice
Kay was kind enough to meet my train and to take me to the sites of the
greenhouses and businesses, and provide me with materials that had been
part of the exhibit. I was able to photograph the last violets remaining
in one of the original greenhouses. This was the business of F. W.
Battenfeld & Son, in the neighboring town of Red Hook. Their
business continues, but with hybrid anemones and Christmas trees.
However, they still grow one row of Viola odorata each year.
Kay Verrilli's efforts to record the history of violets in Rhinebeck for
the exhibit has provided a great service to violet lovers everywhere.
She gleaned articles from The Rhinebeck Gazette, collected photos and
artifacts, and compiled a booklet of "Violet Notes."
I am pleased we are able to share these materials with violet
enthusiasts worldwide through this Fall 2000 issue of The Violet Gazette
as part of the Violet Growing in America feature.
.And, our special thanks to Kay Verrilli for this treasure trove of
© 2000 Annebelle Rice, President
The American Violet Society
All Rights Reserved