Now that I have your attention, I must confess that this is not a rude post about undergarments. Rather mundanely it is about the various flowers around the garden at the moment that happen to be blue.
So what makes flowers blue? It is down to pigments called anthocyanidins, blue is created by delphinidin. The colour that we perceive is the light reflected from the petals. Pollinating insects will see light differently. So first off a flower that has a colour named after it; the violet. The genus is viola and they are common throughout the northern hemisphere. Some of their five petals point downwards giving it a hangdog expression. A common hybrid is the pansy which tends to have larger petals and a variety of colours.
Violets are edible and have been eaten candied or in soups. They are also a food source for moths including the large yellow underwing, mentioned in this blog post here. I believe that these particular ones dotted around the lawn are dog or wood violet, Viola riviniana. It was voted the county flower of Lincolnshire for Plantlife.
You have probably heard the expression, “a shrinking violet” to refer to a shy person. Violets have long been associated with modesty as the flowers bow their heads shyly. The Romans believed that they used to be pretty maidens beaten blue by a jealous Venus and then transformed into flowers by Cupid. Christians believed that they bowed their heads as the shadow of the cross fell upon them. John Moultrie, a nineteenth century clergyman was moved to pen a short poem:
Under the green hedges, after the snow,
There do the dear little violets grow;
Hiding their modest and beautiful heads
Under the hawthorn in soft mossy beds.
Sweet as the roses and blue as the sky,
Down there do the dear little violets lie;
Hiding their heads where they scarce may be seen,
By the leaves you may know where the violet hath been.
Stay tuned for Part Two.