Sunday, May 19, 2013

Viola odorata 'Governor Herrick'

Viola odorata 'Governor Herrick'
If you buy a potted violet from a Garden Centre or a bunch of violets from a florist, chances are it will be this variety. It originated in the United States around 1910 and is thought to be a hybrid between V. odorata and the American native species V. sororia. Unlike the common garden violet, which incidentally has a better perfume, this variety has large deep purple flowers on strong stems and glossy deep green leaves. It is also said to be resistant to red spider mite attack though I have never found this to be a problem when growing violets.
It was named for Myron T Herrick (1854-1929) who was a Republican Governor of Ohio from 1904 to 1906 and later was the US Ambassador to France from 1912-1914. He returned to that post in 1921 till his death in 1929. During his tenure as Ambassador he becomes mates with a certain General Joseph-Simon Gallieni (1849-1916). Rose enthusiasts who like Tea roses will be familiar with the wonderful General Gallieni rose of 1899 which is still in cultivation today and is notable for its year round supply of coppery red, white and pink blooms which change colour depending on the season. 
Myron Herrick's biography is available online at the following:
 T. Bentley Mott. Myron Herrick, Friend of France. Foreword. Table of Contents.

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