"Daughter of Spring's pure virgin light,
That bringest unto me
More joys than Autumn's splendours bright
Of grove and sky and sea."
In the summer of 1907 the present writer arranged to carry out an experiment, to extend over three years, for the purpose of discovering those varieties of Violas which were most perennial in their character. It is well known that a great number of the most beautiful exhibition varieties will not survive over a single winter if left standing in the open. These varieties are often purchased because they look so effective when staged on an exhibition table; but disappointment very often follows, unless they get into skilled hands and are carefully propagated by cuttings each season. It cannot be gainsaid that varieties which possess the character of growing into clumps and surviving through several winters in the open border are most advantageous for many purposes. The trial, therefore, was undertaken with the object of discovering which varieties would behave in this way. The situation selected was in an open field of strong loam overlying clay situated in the county of Essex. The ground was dug deeply and manured at the end of the summer of 1907, and the plants were planted in the month of October.
The following well-known white flowered varieties were planted: Bethea, Countess of Hopetoun, Christiana, Duchess of York, Marchioness, Pencaitland, Purity, Snowflake, White Empress, Redbraes White, Virgin White, Alexandra, Mrs. H. Pearce, White Beauty, Mrs. A. D. Parker, Seagull, E. C. Barlow, Peace.
In the summer of 1908 all the plants were living, and a Committee of Inspection then considered the following the most effective rayless varieties: Snowflake, Purity, Marchioness, Mrs. A. D. Parker, and Countess of Hopetoun; the best rayed varieties being Alexandra and Duchess of York. Pencaitland, a rayed variety with heavy yellow shading on the under petal, was extra good, and so was Peace, which at times had a flush of pale lavender on the upper petals.
The following were planted: Cream King, Devonshire Cream, Iliffe, and Sylvia. The best were Sylvia and Cream King.
The following varieties are placed in their order of merit: Primose Dame, Sulphurea, Ardwell Gem, Maggie Clunas, and Daisy Grieve.
The following eleven varieties were planted: Kingcup, A. J. Rowberry, Bullion, Klondyke, Royal Sovereign, Canary, Grievii, Redbraes Yellow, Walter Welsh, Mrs. E. A. Cade, Wm. Lockwood.
The best rayless varieties were: Redbraes Yellow, Royal Sovereign, and Kingcup; the best rayed being Walter Welsh and Bullion, also Grievii, which was very dwarf and pretty.
Six varieties were planted, and the order of merit was as follows: Kitty Bell, Florizel, Belfast Gem, Lady Marjorie, Miss Harding, Ariel.
Seven varieties were planted, and they succeeded in the following order: Maggie Mott, Blue Duchess, Mauve Queen, Favourite, Ithuriel, Bridal Morn, Lilacina.
The following were planted: Ophelia, Chas. Jordan, Mrs. C. Turner, Admiral of the Blues, Royal Scot, True Blue, Archd. Grant, Councillor Waters, Jubilee, Blue Rock, Lady Warwick.
The best were adjudged to be Councillor Waters, Jubilee, Archd. Grant, True Blue, Royal Scot, Admiral of the Blues, and Ophelia.
The following were planted: Glencoe, Countess of Kintore, Dr. Macfarlane, Blue Cloud, White Duchess, Ada Anderson, Lady Grant, Mrs. Chichester, Mrs. J. H. Rowland, Wm.
Neil, Iris, Crimson Bedder. Those selected for special notice were: Glencoe, bright bronze; Dr. Macfarlane, purple and lavender; Blue Cloud, white with deep-blue edging; Ada Anderson, white with rosy edging; Mrs. Chichester, white with violet edging; Wm. Neil, rose colour, of very dwarf habit; and Crimson Bedder, a fine crimson purple variety. The foregoing, as already stated, is the substance of a report made in the summer of 1908.