January 2010 Plant Profile: Viola odorata ‘Lianne’

The charmingly dainty Sweet Violet seems to have disappeared off the list of garden perennial favorites over the years. Having garnered the reputation of seeding themselves aggressively and being difficult to eradicate from lawns, many gardeners have come to despise violets. But modern gardeners are missing out by overlooking violets long history, their early spring show, and of course, their richly scented blooms that are best admired by taking gentle whiffs like Victorian young ladies were taught to smell their nosegays.
When I started working in the Soest Garden, I was tempted to rip out a large patch of this Viola thinking that it was the straight species, V. odorata, but studying the brochure, I found that it was a named selection of the species that had intentionally been planted.
‘Lianne’ is an old cultivar dating back to the early 1900’s. It was selected for its compact habit, vivid violet/blue color, long bloom period and its delicious fragrance that permeate the path between Bed 2 and 3 where small clumps have established. On top of these tremendous qualities, I’ve also noticed that it hasn’t really seeded itself in any of the other beds in the Soest Garden.

Family: Violaceae
Origin: Garden Origin
Height: 4-6”
Spread: 1.5-2ft.
Bloom Time: Late January-Mid March
Bloom Color: Violet/Blue
Sun: Part Sun-Full Shade
Water/Soil: Moist with a lot of organic matter.