Country diary: wild violets are an absolute joy, to us and the bees

Claxton, Norfolk: Intense blue spikes have covered half the lawn – but we can claim little credit for this

This spring I’ve been amused by our wild violets, which have spread suddenly across one half of the lawn. For anyone who has never met them, they are an absolute joy. Each flowering spike bears an asymmetrical corolla that comprises five petals of the most intense purple. Down the throat of the central spur is a delicious little nectary that bees apparently find irresistible.

If I crouch to sniff, it also yields this gentle odour, from which I judge them to be sweet violets, Viola odorata, the one common species in the family that has such a scent. It is highly evocative, bringing to mind my childhood when we used to buy those tubes of purplish sugar known as Parma Violets (a Derbyshire speciality, manufactured in New Mills).

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