Shakespeare’s love-in-idleness: A blackberry ice-cream viola

Viola cornuta "Coconut Swirl"

Yet mark’d I where the bolt of Cupid fell:

It fell upon a little western flower,

Before milk-white, now purple with love’s wound,

And maidens call it Love-in-idleness.

— A Midsummer Night’s Dream

This is the lovely Viola cornuta, a modern cousin of the deep purple violet Shakespeare knew and used in his play — Puck squeezes the juice from this flower on the young Athenians’ eyes to make them fall in love with the first person they see upon waking. “Shakespeare’s Flowers” identifies the plant as Viola tricolor, or Johnny jump-ups, a vibrant little violet-and-gold thing.  But doesn’t that description just fit?  Milk-white, with an infusion of lavender blue.

There are many shades in the “Sorbet” viola line — this one, I think, is “Coconut Swirl.” But I dislike that name (partly because I hate coconut) and think it should be called “Blackberry Cobbler,” after the single best ice cream I’ve ever tasted.  Much more fitting.  These are blooming now in every pot around my house — I can’t get enough of them.

Viola cornuta "Coconut Swirl"

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