Violet is made from equal proportions of blue and red, and it looks it. From blue it gets its darkness, from red, its vibrancy. The word violet comes from violette, the Old French name for Viola odorata, which has small, richly colored flowers of this hue.
Although purple is often used as a synonym, we prefer violet, which is how it’s described on the color wheel. With a breadth of rich hues that runs the gamut from very nearly navy blue to almost crimson red, this family offers gardeners a generous palette.
The diverse members of the violet family go together in perfect harmony and, with one exception, are welcome in any garden. The exception is the potent red-violet, which we call magenta. It is an electrifying hue that lies somewhere between red-violet and violet-red. While it is compatible with cool hues and with members of its own clan, the contrast with colors on the warm side of the spectrum is too powerful for most gardeners.
Perennial flowers in all the different tints and shades of violet are abundant from spring through fall.