At the centre of a crime, an unlikely suspect; the birth flower of February.
Near to our home in Devon were once many acres of land devoted to growing tiny violets, loved by Edwardians and a favourite of Queen Mary.
Business thrived and bunch upon bunch of sweetly scented violets were loaded onto the flower train in Dawlish bound for London. So popular was the scent, in 1910 Devonshire Violets Perfume was created by Young's of Torquay and sold in Boots, labeled "the sweetest perfume I have ever used".
Then the war came and there was less call for flowers and more need for vegetables. Prices soared and this is when a London train was caught carrying a hearse loaded with smuggled goods. Not tea or rum or tobacco, but innocent-looking flowers. Violets!
As a nation our tastes in cut flowers changed and I have never seen a bunch of violets for sale, though I think I would buy one if I did.
Violets are thought to have been first cultivated by the ancient Greeks who used the flowers for food, medicine and wine. They're said to symbolise modesty, spiritual wisdom and good luck.
Next time you see violets adorning a celebration cake, or discover them just minding their own business growing in a sheltered hedgerow, just imagine what an exciting time their ancestors have had!