National Garden Bureau honors pansy.
Who doesn’t like the pansy?
The National Garden Bureau loves it so much that it just declared 2017 the Year of the Pansy.
This tiny plant has a long history in our gardens. It became popular in the Victorian era of the nineteenth century.
Until then most people considered it a weed.
Today pansies are a hybrid plant cultivated from wildflowers in Europe and western Asia. Much of the collection and cultivation of pansies can be attributed to horticulturists in the UK and Europe more than two hundred years ago.
Nineteenth century Rochester, New York seedsman James Vick (1818-1882) often wrote about the pansy, and also received letters about this flower from his customers.
He wrote, “The Pansy is a popular flower with both florists and amateurs, giving abundance of bloom until after severe frosts, enduring our hard winters with safety, and greeting us in the earliest spring with a profusion of bright blossoms.”
It was the smiley face on this plant that Vick and his customers loved.Garden pansies (Viola x wittrockiana) are a mixture of several species, including Viola tricolor. Oftentimes the names “pansy”, “viola”, and “violet” are interchangeable.
The American Violet Society classifies modern pansies as having large-flowered blooms with two slightly overlapping upper petals, two side petals, and a single bottom petal, with a slight beard in its center.
Pansies are considered annual bedding plants, used for garden decoration during cooler planting seasons.
According to the NGB, “Pansies come in a rainbow of colors: from crisp white to almost black, and most all colors in between. They are also a great addition to your spring or fall vegetable garden as they are edible and pair well with lettuces. They can also be candied and used to decorate sweets or other dishes.”
Vick wrote in 1874, “The Pansies make such a beautiful bed, and are so interesting as flowers that we are anxious all should succeed with them.”
Then he wrote about the flower’s likeness to a human face. He said, “No flower is so companionable and life-like. It requires no very great stretch of the imagination to cause one to believe that they see and move, and acknowledge your admiration in a very pretty knowing way.”
Did he mean that these plants know you love them?