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Violet
I consider every plant hardy until I have killed it myself....Sir Peter Smithers

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Violets have been cultivated and used in cooking and medicine for thousands of years.  They are low-growing Perennials that are closely related to Pansies, and spread readily in the right conditions. They make an attractive and useful ground cover in shady situations, such as under trees.  In my area, Violets are prone to being thought of as a weed, as they spring up all over the place and are difficult to control.  However, in my opinion, if you have to have a weed problem, Violets are very much preferable to most of the other weeds I can think of.

Violets have fragrant flowers that are borne on stalks that rise from the leaves.   Their leaves are dark green and oval, kidney shaped, or heart shaped.  The flowers can be white, blue, purple, and rarely, yellow.  Violets flower in April and May, and prefer rich, moist soil and partial shade.  They self-sow readily and also spread by runners, and they may need occasional thinning. 

Violet leaves and flowers are often used as garnishes in chilled soups and for a festive touch in punches.  The petals can be candied and used to garnish cakes, fruits, and pastries.  The leaves are tasty enough to be eaten alone, but also work well when added to green salads.

To make candied Violet flowers, pick a large number of flowers and let dry on a paper towel for a couple of hours.  Beat an egg white to a froth, and color it with food coloring, if desired.  Using a fine brush, carefully coat each flower with the egg white, then pour fine sugar over each.  Blend the sugar in your blender to make it a finer consistency, if desired.  Lay each flower on wax paper to dry, then use as a decoration for your confections when the flowers are stiff enough to move.

Violet water is made by steeping leaves and flowers in water until it becomes fragrant.  The water can then be used in teas and in puddings and for flavoring ice cubes.

 

 

 

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