Does everyone out there remember the song "Sweet Violets"? I think I remember it more for the lead-in verses...there were different versions, but they all began by sounding as if a slightly naughty thought was about to be expressed and then quickly substituting something, well, prissier.
"There once was a farmer who courted a miss.
He took her to his farm and gave her a--
Lecture on farming and churning and butter and eggs..."
And so on up to the last incomplete couplet: "They would get married and raise lots of--Sweet violets!"
Growing up in the U.S. I didn't realize that "sweet violets" are actually a different species of violets than the blooms that are currently predominant in my front not-a-lawn. Sweet violets grow in England. The not-a-lawn does look a good deal like this picture, and has for the past two weeks. Frost didn't bother the violets at all. But if you get close to my violets, or if you find this photo at Morguefile and open it to its original "magazine" size, you can see a big difference. The leaves are similar, and the shape of the flowers is similar. My white violets are almost pure white, with barely visible blue veins; these sweet violets are two-toned. My white violets have almost no scent; sweet violets are known for their fragrance.
In other places around the Cat Sanctuary pale blue violets, and violet-colored violets, are also flourishing; the pale blue ones and the white ones seem to be more abundant this year than the violet-colored ones.
All three U.S. species (and others that don't grow where I live) are actually edible, as well as pretty. The main reason why people don't eat more of their violets is that they're too nutritious and can have laxative effects. I think we were meant mostly to enjoy looking at them...it's safe to nibble on a few violets, but not advisable to eat a lot of them.