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© 2000 All Rights Reserved.

Volume 1, Number 4
Autumn 2000
On line Version



             "Once upon a time, in America, there was a violet kingdom by a river. Its towns and villages were filled with dedicated people who worked the land and grew beautiful violets. They prospered, and their violets made them famous and wealthy. The violet kingdom lasted for one hundred years until the dark forces of war, fashion and forgetfulness vanquished it forever."


Dear Friends,

             This is not a fairy tale but the true story of a violet kingdom that grew in New York State's Hudson River Valley region and was known to all as America's center for the violet growing industry. These days we like to refer to that period in violet time and history as the "Rhinebeck story" after the area's "violet village" or "violet capital." And because we believe it's a story that begs to be told, our Violet Gazette team has looked forward for some time to the opportunity of bringing this unique account to our readers and AVS members.

             This summer, while in the planning stage of our "American Violet" feature theme, inspiration paid us a visit in the shape of our AVS President, Annebelle Rice touring along the East Coast in search for violets and on her way to "violet mecca" that is, Rhinebeck, New York. You can read about her "finds" in Violet Journeys. Annebelle's visit was not recorded for posterity with a simple "I wish you were here postcard" but with a package filled with materials gathered at the Museum of Rhinebeck History after a visit with its Director, Kay Verrilli. The collection of press clippings and magazines' articles covering almost 100 years of violet history turned to be a true treasure trove, and a challenge for this editorial team. In The Violets of Dutchess County we attempt to portray an agricultural saga that had its beginnings in the 1890s and continued with ups and downs well into our present time and which, by virtue of its unique time in history is now part of the American experience. From our Violet Gazette perspective, it represents the first installment in the "Violet Growing in America" series to be completed in Winter 2001.

             Violets the Year Round (a gardening guide) is an added bonus to the Rhinebeck report and was found among the archival papers. To be frank, we're not sure of its origins or who the real author is, but are almost certain it was published in the early 20s, and by the Rhinebeck Violet Association. We like the idea of "discovering" it and make it useful once again, just as it was intended in the first place. The authorship matter is under investigation and in due time we will credit the rightful parties. 

             Dr. Theresa M. Culley's Why Violets Are So Successful is the main feature of this Fall 2000 issue as well as her first and exclusive contribution to The Violet Gazette. Dr. Culley is the AVS newest Board member, and one of the organization's best advocates. At present she is engaged in post-doctoral viola research at her new post at the University of California-Irvine. Her enthusiasm about violets in America is truly inspiring; in fact, she plans, in the near future and on behalf of our society, to lead violet exploration activities on the West Coast. In this paper, Dr. Culley discusses the survival habits of V. pubescens, an American favorite better known as "Downy Yellow Violet" for which she's provided her own photographic work. We welcome Theresa's contribution, her commitment to the violet cause, and look forward to reading more of her work in the next issues.

             A fervor for violets has been in the American mind since colonial times. It was particularly well represented throughout the 19th century by several American intellectuals and poets, among them the naturalist and author Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) who liked to compare his own sense of loss to "a bunch of violets without their roots." Our Poetry Corner wishes this time to honor the American poet and journalist William Cullen Bryant (1794-1878) whose romantic poetry is "steeped in nature imagery paralleling the picturesque style of the Hudson River painters." Such attributes are well exemplified in his poem, The Yellow Violet. In addition, and in keeping with the American theme, Annebelle Rice has contributed historical information on why and how four states in the Union came to adopt Violets as State Flower Symbols.

             Finally, we present a whimsical take on that famous dilemma: --What's in a name? Is your name Violet? Chuck Lavazzi's amusing and original A Bunch of Violets measures up your chances of obtaining Dr. Watson and Sherlock Holmes' aid in a moment of trouble. We're sure this commentary at a common thread is bound to bring a smile to your face.

             On a recent visit to Burpee Seeds Company's Pennsylvania facilities, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the cover of their 1897 seed catalog featured a lovely illustration of the 'Princess of Wales' violets. Burpee Seeds, in business for 124 years as America's best-loved seed company, was a pioneer in seed and plant distribution to the entire nation. Mr. George Ball, Jr., President and CEO of W. Atlee Burpee & Co. has graciously granted us permission to feature that catalog violet cover on our Fall 2000 Index page to match the "American violet" theme. On the subject of illustrations, we wish to point out that most graphics in this issue derive from old American postcards popular in the early 1900s. These have been adapted digitally by Gary W. Sherwin, our webmaster and chief magician. As always, Gary makes sure the AVS homepage and the online version of  The Violet Gazette are top notch. We are forever grateful to him and to Annebelle Rice, and to those AVS friends who make it all possible every time.

             We do hope you enjoy this "American" issue, and take this opportunity to extend our best wishes to you and your families for a wonderful Fall and Holiday Seasons.


Norma Beredjiklian,  Editor



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