Name: Violets -Viola odorata
Meaning – Faithfulness
Oberon mentions violets at his most poetic in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. There he refers to the shy, downward facing nature of the flower rather than its sweet scent:
“I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk roses and with eglantine:
There sleeps Titania sometime of the night”
In direct contrast, the Greeks saw the strong scent of the violet as sexy and so the violet, symbol of Athens, also became emblematic of Aphrodite and her son Priapus, the deity of fertility, livestock, fruit plants, and male genitalia. Priapus is marked by his oversized, permanent ‘Priapic’ erection. Not so shy now, violet.
In other mentions, the goddess Persephone and her companion Nymphs were gathering rose, crocus, violet, iris, lily and larkspur blooms in a springtime meadow when she was abducted by the god Hades.
Violets are delicious and easy to crystallise for historically accurate cake decorations. All you need is some violet flowers, egg white, table sugar and a small paintbrush. Here’s how to do it. If you are unsure of your flower identification then it’s a bad idea to eat them as many flowers which look quite innocent are toxic. Garden flowers may be subject to sprays and animal pee. You can buy edible flower selections now which removes the need for guesswork.