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The word Pansy comes from the French word pensées, which means thoughts. Over the years this has become associated with lovers and coupled with the Old English word, heartsease, symbolizes those lovers who died of a broken heart. Extremely romantic but not the least melancholy, nothing could be farthest from these cheerful flowers with its many attractive faces that bring such pleasure to the garden all year round. Not only that but these plants are easy to grow and will put up with the most amateur attempts to grow them.
They will tolerate any type of soil and most positions except deeply shaded parts of the garden. You don't need to go to a lot of preparation either; they will happily bloom in beds, borders or containers.
Most of us are used to the typical type of pansy with their multi-colored faces, rather like a tiger with its orange and purple stripes, sometimes with a smaller violet and white, which are termed more as Violas. These are the Monarch variety and have that distinctive face amongst a riot of color. Another variety that we find more familiar is the 'true blue' with the subtlety shaded hues of light to darker blue.
Then there are the pansies, which come in single colors and a wonderful rainbow array of color. One of my favorites of these is the 'padparadja' named for a jewel of the orient. One very unusual is the 'King of the blacks' a dark purple that looks black, an extremely robust plant that nestles amongst its green foliage. Single colors can be very striking on their own but have other uses. They also look lovely in a large urn, window box or in a single clump of the same color.
Fancies and other Varieties.
The Victorians loved to propagate these plants and make new varieties that became known as 'fancies.' One of these is the 'Jolly Joker' an orange and purple bi-color with a small flower. Then there is one aptly called 'Love Duet' a cream with pale pink and a rich rose face. I managed to buy something similar from a garden center about a year ago, only these were called 'Northern lights' and were an autumn/winter flower.
You can make your own flowers by setting a patch of earth aside or plant in a large planter with a few of your own favorite plants. Leave alone for a season and nature will do it's job, turning one color into a blend of one or more, sometimes to a wonderful effect, other times you might want to discard the result. My best result was a mistake. I put a cream variety next to a blue and ended up with a streaky blue fading to a pale mauve. I think I had placed them too near to a clump of tiny violas, which are of the same family. You can also get a similar effect with clover, though I've never seen it done in any gardening book. I even have a pink primrose.
Planting and Care.
Pansies will brighten up the garden all year long and make the brightest display even on a dreary winter's day. They are sturdy plants and many come back year after year. It's best to plant your chosen variety in spring and autumn, so you have a year-round display. I use a basic all-purpose compost and fill my sturdy wall baskets and planters with soil, although I do have some still in flower. These I allow to go on flowering, feeding the soil so I don't have to remove the plants. I deadhead regularly to get more plants and trim in autumn to stop the plants going straggly.
A good choice for an amateur is Universal hybrid 1 which will give good results time after time. Don't try for a fancy variety straight away, but if you are a seasoned gardener you might like to try this for yourself. Choose Clear Crystal for self-color and Jolly Joker for fun. Or the multi-colored 'Delft' has lemon, cream and midnight black, much like my' Northern lights.'
Mix and match pansies with other plants for a lovely effect, especially with a short-lived bulb such as tulips, the pansies will keep on flowering after the tulips die back. Pansies also go well with early spring flowers such as snowdrops or cyclamen adding a contrast in color and shape.
Another way to match them is in hanging baskets where they will make huge balls of colors. Or I've seen them in unusual containers such as chimney tops, miniature wheelbarrows, old fish tanks and even a bathtub!
Flowers should be fun as well as decorative. Pansies are happy flowers and a bright addition to any garden. Cheap to grow from seed or buy as plug plants from any garden center. With a bit of practice you'll be the envy of your neighbors.
The Pansy always reminds me of a little face, this wonderful little flower is a must for every garden. It comes in Yellow, red, purple, white, pinks all with white and black markings.
It flowers for most of the year and in the colder months it is one of the few flowers that will give colour in the garden. The Pansy will grow in most positions and most soils, however it does like some sunshine and compost. It is suitable for pots and in the garden.
Small perennial flowering plants in a wide range of colours and varieties. The pansy or pansy violet is a cultivated garden flower. It is derived from the wildflower called the Heartsease or Johnny Jump Up (Viola tricolor), and is sometimes given the subspecies name Viola tricolor hortensis. However, many garden varieties are hybrids and are referred to as Viola × wittrockiana. The name pansy also appears as part of the common name of a number of wildflowers belonging, like the cultivated pansy, to the violet genus Viola. One or two unrelated flowers such as the Pansy Monkeyflower also have pansy in their name.