Violas are generous plants. Not only are they easy to grow, adaptable, robust and hardy; they also provide the gardener with a seemingly endless and abundant flowering season, wonderful scent and such an array of flower colours, shapes and sizes, trying to choose is like being a child in a sweet shop. In short, no garden can afford to be without them!
Perhaps we are too biased in our zealous promotion of these little treasures, but to us they are plants with personality. Each face is different and collecting them can easily become as addictive as collecting Snowdrops or Auriculas.
How to order your Violas
Violas can be ordered for delivery between April and June using our online shop. They can either be sent to you through the post or you can arrange to collect your order either by visiting the nursery and garden, or from one of the many plant fairs we will be attending, please see listed on our courses and events page. Please note if you are visiting the nursery to purchase violas we keep a selection available for sale between April and June, however if you are looking for a specific variety please ring in advance to check availability.
A Potted History
Like Auriculas, they have had a long and colourful history, most notably during the 19th century when their popularity soared. Rapid developments in their breeding led to ever larger and fancier flowers, as gardeners toiled in pursuit of the perfect exhibition Pansy.
Violas don’t emerge from this flurry of breeding work until the late 1860’s and are, in fact, quite distinct from the pansies that came before. It’s all down to parentage: the Pansy had been developed from Viola tricolour (our native Pansy); whereas this new wave of Violas stemmed from Viola lutea and Viola cornuta. Violas had a number of benefits over pansies: plants were more dwarf and compact in growth, produced an abundance of smaller flowers (making them more weather resistant) and were reliably hardy and perennial. It was from this period that the ever popular Viola ‘Maggie Mott emerged, with its silvery mauve flowers and superb fragrance, a variety that we still hold in our collection today.
Around 1875 further developments in breeding led to the introduction of what we now know as Violettas. Dr Stuart bred a pure white Viola, entirely without rays or whiskers and with the added bonus of a particularly fine fragrance. It was famous plantsman, William Robinson, who recognised this plant as a new strain of Viola and featured them in a subsequent addition of the Garden Magazine. These new strains were given the group name of Violettas. We grow a number of Violettas at the nursery, of which Little David, Bryony, Dawn, Rebecca and Zoe are to name but a few.
The Bouts Collection
The Bouts viola collection was established in 1978 by Mark and Stephanie Roberts of Bouts Cottage Nursery. In 2011 they retired and we here at Wildegoose Nursery were fortunate enough to take on this wonderful collection.
Within our collection we have over 160 varieties, including many old favorites dating back to the 19th Century, through to modern introductions, two of which have been raised here at Wildegoose Nursery – Viola ‘Janette and Viola ‘Jean Jeannie’.
We believe there is a Viola to suit a whole range of garden situations - or indeed culinary - as the smaller flowered varieties can be used in salads and to decorate cakes. Violas make fantastic pot subjects, whether planted up as a collection of varieties in varying sized pots, or as one element in a mixed display. Within the wider garden, they make a great addition to the front of the border: using their taller neighbours as climbing aids. If it is under planting you are looking for, then it is the cornutas that you want. For the specialist grower we supply a good range of exhibition varieties too, please contact us if there is a particular variety you are looking for.
For your Violas to flourish, they need a good depth of soil for their roots to spread into. So if planting in a pot go for something at least 12” (30cm) deep and use a proprietary brand of potting compost. If planting in the open ground, make sure the soil is well cultivated, weed free and ensure you incorporate plenty of organic matter.
Violas need regular deadheading to maintain their long season of flowering and they benefit from a light trim and tidy in July if appearing leggy. Cut back to within 2 inches from the base in early autumn to encourage fresh new basal growth and to deter pests from overwintering in their crowns.
Violas can be susceptible to attack from aphids, slugs and snails, therefore treat with appropriate chemical or organic solution on first sight. Above all ensure plants are kept watered in hot, dry weather and if growing in pots, apply a liquid feed regularly. They will enjoy sun or part shade.
Viola ‘Jean Jeannie’