July 21, 2017

A New ‘Invention’

Pansies - Viola x. wittrockiana

Pineo Photo - Pansies - Viola x. wittrockiana

The pansy is a relatively new invention, according to “100 Flowers and How They Got Their Names” by Diana Wells. We have one Mr. T. Thompson, gardener to Lord Gambier who was Admiral of the Baltic fleet, to thank for crossing several varieties, including Viola tricolor, or Johnny-jump-up. In 1810, the book says, Mr. Thompson saw the “first ‘blotched’ pansy, ‘a miniature impression of a cat’s face steadfastly gazing at me’ as a stray flower in a bed.” Anyone who visits a greenhouse in this day and age likely will see tables of pansies – Viola x. wittrockiana cultivars – glowing in the spring sunshine, their colors running the gamut from pure white to what passes for black, a deep purple. Many are part of a series, such as the Clear Crystal Series and the Imperial Series.