Posted by: lensweb | April 8, 2014

Violets, violets, all the way

Violets, violets  all the way

Teresa Hooley (Mrs. F. H. Butler 1888–1973), a notable poet, was born in Risley. Her early life was spent at Risley Lodge and she also lived at Goldenbrook Farm, Risley. She is best known for a poem about World War 1 ‘A War Film’  Although her work is now out of favour, the poem below; My Lady of Violets is evocative of the era.

Mary Mother leaned from heaven,
Gazed upon my little wood,
Where the trees stood up to praise her
In the winter solitude.

Snow lay drifted on the branches,
And the undergrowth was snow–
White, all white, and far flung purple
Where the shadows slept below.

Mary Mother smiled in heaven,
Bent and brooded o’er the earth:
White as snow His stainless life was
From the day I gave Him birth.

Mary Mother sighed in heaven
(Long tree-shadows show a cross):
Purple glooms athward for sorrow,
Pain and sacrifice and loss.

Lovely thoughts of white and purple
Mary wove one winter day;
Where they fell, sprang up in April
Violets, violets all the way

By Teresa Hooley


The first violet in spring is usually Sweet Violet Viola odorata. It is flowering now at Manor Farm, Long Eaton, Stoney Clouds, Sandiacre and Risley Glebe. It has trailing shoots, heart shaped leaves with hairy stems and distinctive blunt sepals which distinguish it easily from the Dog Violets.

At Forbes Hole the Early Dog Violet Viola reichenbachiana is flowering. Named after Heinrich Gustav Reichenbach in the mid 19th century, it is a spring-flowering perennial of hedges and woodland. It looks similar to Common Dog Violet  Viola riviniana but the top two petals are erect, looking like rabbits ears, the veins on the petals are scarcely branched, the spur on the back of the flower is quite dark blue or purple and the sepals are pointed. Sepal appendages are present in dog violets, inconspicuous in the Early Dog Violet, large in the pale spurred Common Dog Violet especially noticeable in the fruit.

Marion Bryce 8 April 2014


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