Early Dog Violet (Viola reichenbachiana)
It may be just me and the way I use my camera but I always feel that it never does anything coloured purple justice! This Early Dog-violet looks decidedly blue and not its true deep violet colouring.
The Early Dog-violet certainly comes out early in the year being in flower in March and is a few weeks ahead of its close cousin, the Common Dog-violet which is more prevelent in April and May and it really that timing that I base my observations on as I find them exceedingly difficult to tell apart., The 'early' has a narrower flower than the 'common' and the 'early' has a darker centre with 'common' being yellowish in the centre. Both species grow in open woodland, on hedge banks and verges; the 'early' preferring shade whereas the 'common' can be found in more open areas and can occur on pasture and grassland too.
Tricky chaps, dog-violets, I hope have got this one right!
Find out more about the nature of Dorset at www.natureofdorset.co.uk