In the Royal Gardens at Windsor, as many as 3000 Violet plants are cultivated in frames with exceptional success. The method of propagation practised there is by cuttings taken in September. The following details of cultivation have been furnished by Mr. John Dunn, under whose care the Windsor plants are grown: -
"The plants are propagated early in September by cuttings. These are inserted 4 inches apart, either in a cold frame, or on a south border where protection can be given them in rough, winter weather. The cuttings chosen are those possessing a crown bud, for these are usually plentiful at the time the runners are being removed from the plants grown for winter flowering. By this method strong young plants are ready for planting out by the first week in April; they have a great advantage over plants propagated by division in May, as practised by some growers. In April the young plants are planted in a border. Before planting, a liberal supply of decayed leaves is dug in, in preference to any kind of farm yard manure. During summer the plants should be syringed every afternoon or evening to encourage clean, healthy growth. Red Spider is the result of poverty caused by want of moisture. Slight dustings of soot should also be given during damp weather. The runners must be removed from plants intended for winter flowering in frames, so that good, plump crowns may be ready for planting in pits by the first week in September. The hotbed is composed of leaves, saved for the purpose, and trodden lightly together to the depth of 3 feet or more. Over this bed we place the compost 9 inches deep, consisting of loam and leaf-mould in equal parts. The leaf-mould is collected from plantations where the leaves have lain without fermenting, and thus they have not become sour.
"The plants are carefully lifted for planting in the pits, and, when planting has been done, a liberal watering is given to settle the soil about the roots. The gentle heat created by the bed of leaves soon promotes root growth. The lights are left off until the approach of frost, and although the bed is well filled with young, healthy roots, the plants have so far made very little top-growth. Violets treated in this way provide flowers all through the winter. Ventilation is given freely, and watering is done thoroughly when this is necessary, which is not more than three or four times during the winter months.
"At Windsor, 3000 Violet plants are cultivated in pits, and the success achieved is largely due to the liberal use of leaf-mould, and the system of propagating the plants in September.
"Only three varieties are grown; these are Princess of Wales, Lady Hume Campbell, and Marie Louise."
Plate 7. Sweet Violets
Top: Marie Louise, Princess of Wales.
Middle: Mrs. J. J. Astor.
Bottom: Marie Louise, Comte de Brazza.