In a Vase on Monday

I am joining in with Cathy’s meme at Ramblinginthegarden this week. I suddenly noticed that the bank of wild violets; Viola odorata, which has been delighting me with its elusive fragrance for days now is beginning to be more leaves than flowers. So I picked a bunch and added some lilac, pink and white ones, as well as some of my precious apricot violets: Viola odorata var. Sulphurea.

I’m afraid they didn’t stay in the vase for very long because I wanted to crystallize them.
First I snipped off most of the stalk, just leaving enough to hold them by. I washed them and put them on some kitchen paper to dry.
When the violets were dry  I whipped up the white of an egg until it was foamy. Then holding the violet by the stalk  I painted the egg white on with a pastry brush.  I used a cocktail stick to sort out the petals which stuck together. Then I coated  the violet with castor sugar. I think it is called superfine sugar in America. I cut off the stalks and I put the violets on greaseproof paper to dry.  They are crisp and brittle when they are dry and you can keep them for a couple of months in an airtight container. They make lovely cake decorations. I am going to use these for my daughter’s birthday cake next month.


I have to admit it is very time consuming. Violets are quite fiddly to crystallise but you can do any edible flower. I love crystallised rose petals.

If like Shirley Conran you think that ‘life is too short to stuff a mushroom‘ you probably won’t want to give up an hour to crystallising violets.  The Pianist was surprised that I didn’t have anything better to do,  especially as he thinks the violets look like dead flies. Sugar-coated flies though.   I like them and if you  crystallise them, (violets, not flies,) you get to eat violets which is lovely.

Thanks to Cathy for hosting this meme; In a Vase on Monday.  Her vase is called ‘Twist and Shout’; perhaps I should have called mine ‘Sweets for My Sweet’ in the words of the Searcher’s song. Sorry if that means another earworm for Anna at Green  Tapestry.

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40 Responses to In a Vase on Monday

  1. Julie says:

    Love this, I thought I would be commenting on your really pretty vase and read through to find a very funny post. The little Viola odorata var. Sulphurea is gorgeous too. 🙂

  2. I hope you will show us the cake when it is made! Lucky for me, I have some wild violets in my garden. They always remind me of the beautiful Empress Josephine who embroidered her wedding dress with violets. Too bad it was for that megalomaniac, Napoleon.

    • Chloris says:

      I didn’t know this about The Empress Josephine. I wonder how she kept the violets looking fresh. And of course she created the wonderful rose garden at Malmaison. So she had an awful taste in men but a wonderful taste in flowers. I have been to her birth place, La Pagerie in Martinique and I can see how her love of flowers started, coming from a beautiful island of flowers as she did.

  3. Robbie says:

    I agree with the comment above:-) I was drawn in by your beautiful vase in my reader, but to find out you were going to “crystallize” a viola-WOW! I’ve read about this ,but never seen it done before. I do hope you share the cake when you decorate it for your daughter:-)

    • Chloris says:

      Well the best you can say about my cakes is that they taste all right and they look home made. I don’t know how to make them beautiful though. My daughter is the cake maker in our family, she makes the most beautiful cakes I have ever seen.
      Crystallising flowers is not difficult but it is fiddly and time-consuming.

  4. pbmgarden says:

    Your short-lived arrangement was just beautiful. Repurposing the flowers for your daughter’s birthday cake is a nice idea. I used to live where many wild violets grew but no longer. I am the kind of person who thinks anyone might benefit from taking time to stuff a mushroom. It would be fun to experiment with crystalizing flowers.

    • Chloris says:

      It is fun and you can do it with any edible flower for decoration, but the best sort are the ones like violets and rose petals which have a delicious flavour

  5. Flighty says:

    Fascinating, I’ve always wondered how that was done. xx

  6. Alison says:

    I’ve never eaten a crystallized violet but I’ve heard they’re delicious. Great way to repurpose something that will eventually die anyway. I bet the cake will look wonderful!

  7. rusty duck says:

    Dead flies indeed. I think they’re lovely!

  8. Garden Fancy says:

    What a lovely, sweet product of spring! Thanks so much for sharing this traditional skill with us. There is a good article about using violets for cooking in the current issue of Country Gardens Magazine — I don’t know if CG is available in the UK, but I just read it here in the US. Here is a blog post about preparing the article, by the magazine’s editor:
    If you want to read it and can’t find the magazine, I’d be happy to scan it and email to you.
    Thanks for the springy post! -Beth

  9. Alain says:

    Thank you for telling us about it. I had heard of it but did not know how it is done. One edible flower that looks great of white icing is the flowers of borage. You stick them in with no tail and they don’t fade for a very long time.

  10. Cathy says:

    Chloris – I am gobsmacked! I have never seen pink or lilac violets, let alone apricots – where have they been? Where have I been? They are all absolutely adorable, in or out of the vase, naked or crystallised. Such soft, gentle colours, and ideal for crystallising too – I will have to look out for these colours. Are they readily available somewhere? Thanks for the link and for joining in.

    • Chloris says:

      I have had mine for years and always brought them with me when I moved. I can’t even remember where I got them from but Groves Nursery in Dorset sells them.

      • Cathy says:

        Thanks Chloris – I have had a quick look at Groves’ website. What am amazing selection – I am not sure where I could start!

  11. Kris P says:

    The violas and the vase you selected for them are perfect, Chloris. Like Cathy, I’ve never seen violets in some of these colors. I’m also impressed that you took the time to crystallize the flowers – I hope your daughter appreciates the cake!

  12. Your viola selection is beautiful! I never knew that there was an apricot viola – I love it! Crystallised violets is something I may consider, as I love violet and rose cream chocolates. I’m intrigued to try it out. Thank you for the “recipe”!

  13. Julie says:

    Wow Chloris – what beautiful violets you have. I would love to know more about them, where they like to grow and where you got them from. I am also really impressed that you have chrystallized them – I thought that only happened in books.!

  14. Chloris says:

    I can’t remember where I got them from I have had them for so long. I have two pink ones: Perle Rose and Coeur d’Alsace and they are both lovely. The apricot is my favourite and I found it in the garden of my previous home. I have never seen it for sale.They are very adaptable but they seem to prefer woodland conditions.

  15. bittster says:

    Chloris it’s not often I laugh out loud at the computer, but I did, and I suspect I would like the pianist. So you have nothing better to do than crystallize dead flies?
    I also have never seen violets in pink and apricot, and I think they’re perfect. I’ll keep my eyes open but it might be quite a search here in the US.

    • Chloris says:

      Well I hope you find some lovely violets, they are worth seeking out.
      They are not dead flies, they are VIOLETS. No flies were involved, although ever time I look at them now……

  16. Anna says:

    Oh now that’s a beautiful vase Chrloris, your daughter will be in for a rather specially decorated cake and I will be singing all day.

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Anna. Sorry, I don’t mean to keep mentioning irritating songs. It’s on my mind now and to make matters worse I can only remember the words to the first two lines.

  17. Annette says:

    I love that romantic and humble arrangement, Chloris! Also I always wanted to crystallize some but it seems quite time consuming. Lucky daughter!

  18. Chloris says:

    It is time consuming Annette, but you could start with rose petals, they wouldn’t be so fiddly.

  19. The apricot violets are stunning, I haven’t come across them before.

  20. Chloris says:

    They are gorgeous. My previous garden was owned by quite a well known nurseryman and the violets were growing there along with some of my other cherished plants that have moved around with me. I have never seen these violets for sale anywhere.

  21. Cathy says:

    I admire your patience in crystallizing them – they do look pretty in all those different shades! I have the apricot violets too – they spread like mad but the flowers don’t last as long as the others.

    • Chloris says:

      The apricot ones are gorgeous, everyone who sees it wants a bit. Perhaps they like your garden; mine don’t spread very quickly like the wild ones do.Crystallising violets does take a lot of time but it is fun to do. Just once a year.

  22. How delightful they look. and how posh your cake will look!

  23. Chloris says:

    I don’t think I have the necessary skill to make my cake look posh Dorris. My cakes always look misshapen and homespun. But the violets will add a bit of glamour.

  24. We thought about harvesting some flowers and doing the same, but the lack of time made me consider otherwise. Nice to see someone attempt the effort! Those pink violets don’t seem to be found here in eastern US, although purple, white, and white with purple hearts can be found.

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