Although there are nine species of British violets it is the Sweet Violet (violet adorata) and its poor relation, the Common Dog Violet (viola riviniana) that are most familiar to gardeners and walkers alike. The sweet violet, which appears in both purple and white varieties, has been cultivated for its fragrance for thousands of years, but it has an unusual property. Along with its scent the flower produced ionine which quickly dulls the sense of smell and can therefore help to cover up less desirable odours. By contrast the Common Dog variety is devoid of scent, produces stems up to three times longer (20cms) and only appear in a blue violet colour.
The word itself appears to have entered our language around medieval times and comes from the Old French – violette. In Roborough, where Violet Drive occurs as a street name it is one of a small group of florally inspired names, along with adjoining Campion View and Clover Rise.