Flower Tales-Pansies


“The plants closest to you are those from your childhood; those are the ones you truly love.”  

~V. S. Naipaul



Drip, DriP, DRIP….can you hear it.  The snow has begun to melt as temps are soaring into the 40s here.  Low 40s are normal for this time of year so I am ecstatic.  It looks like my Snow Go poem is working.  We have lost over two feet of the four feet of snow already.  This week it is supposed to cool off to just about freezing for the start of spring, but I am sure that will not last (wishful thinking perhaps).

This is my last annual flower tale for this winter, and I am saving my favorite annual, pansies, for last (actually IMG_6156hardy annual in my garden).  Pansies are actually considered a perennial, but sometimes grow more like biennials or annuals depending on your climate.

With this month’s flower tale, I am linking in for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day (GBBD) hosted by Carol@May Dreams Gardens on the 15th of each month.  I hope to return to showcasing garden flowers blooming this time next month for GBBD.  

What is commonly regarded as the garden pansy refers to a large-flowered hybrid plant cultivated from several species including the Viola tricolor (Johnny Jump Up), a wildflower of Europe and western Asia, (known as heartsease) that was introduced into North America.

Many times you will see pansies listed as Viola x wittrockiana from the Violet family  (Violaceae).  And it is not uncommon to hear people use the terms pansy and viola interchangeably.  But the pansy has larger multi-colored flowers, while the viola has smaller flowers.

There are now a wide range of pansy flower colors including black.  The typical pansy flowers are single with five rounded petals.  Blooms can be a single color, a single color with black lines radiating from the center or have the dark center also known as a “face”.





IMG_5841The name pansy is from the French word pensie, meaning thought or remembrance. The pansy is a delicate looking flower often thought to have a “face” thus the idea of remembrance.







Growing Conditions

I love watching pansies grow with my early spring bulbs.  I try to grow pansies every year from seed.  They grow best in full to partial sun in well-draining soil.  Regular watering, fertilizing and deadheading can help increase bloom production.

And because pansies don’t like it too hot, they are best planted in spring in the North and winter in the IMG_5654South.  You can direct sow them in the ground.  But I start mine indoors in late January so I can plant them out in early April.  They can take up to 12 weeks to grow large enough to flower.

The pansy can grow to 9 inches in height. The green, notched leaves are oval-shaped.

Pansies are hardy from zones 4–8.  They can survive some freezing and snow cover, but do best if mulched in areas with lots of snow.

Pansies are usually free from pests but can be susceptible to mildew, aphids and slugs.




Folklore and Tales

Pansies are symbolic of the Trinity because the flowers often have three colors.

IMG_2032They are considered the symbolic flower for the first wedding anniversary.

Violas, which the pansy is descended from, were cultivated by the Greeks for herbal medicines.

Young American settlers were said to make dolls from pansies.  The flowers were used as the face of a doll, with the leaves as skirts and twigs as arms.  They were called pansy dolls.

The pansy is the flower of Osaka, Japan.

In the early 19th century, Lady Mary Elizabeth Bennet collected and cultivated every sort of Viola tricolor with the help of her gardener, William Richardson.  She introduced her pansies to the horticultural world in 1812.  The flowers were further cultivated in 1813 by Mr. Lee, a well-known florist and nurseryman.

By 1833, there were 400 different pansies available to gardeners.





DSCN0999Both the leaves and flowers of pansies are edible and can be used as a garnish.  They are said to be high in vitamins A and C.

A syrup can be made out of the flowers, and the flowers can be used to flavor honey and salads.

The flowers can also be used as a dye.




Language of Flowers

In the language of flowers, a pansy given to a beloved means “I am thinking of our forbidden love”.  It also refers to someone thinking about you and loyalty.


pansy collage


Do you grow pansies?  If you do, have you ever eaten them or any other “edible” flower?



In A Vase On Monday 


DSCN9800 Even with the temps now reaching the 30s and 40s, it is still impossible to forage in the garden.  Thankfully I have a few more indoor bulbs blooming to make a vase.  Here is Hippeastrum ‘Minerva’ again.  It gave me another bloom, and just in time for St. Patrick’s Day.  So I decided to get down my Irish Teapot from where I keep it on display.  It is Wade Porcelain made in Ireland, more specifically Northern Ireland.  My mom had it, but never used it, and she gave it to me with a matching vase.  I am not sure where she acquired the pieces.



 minerva collage 1

I first staged it with a silk scarf I bought when I was in Ireland in 2008.  I love how it brought out the colors and created a great contrast.



 minerva collage 2

But as it began to open more, I placed it in my living room again.  I added the dark green leaves from my Peace lily or Spathiphyllum that were from another vase.  And even though the boxwood greenery has dried, it still is green and perfect to use as a filler.  Once the flowers opened more, the vase really glowed here.

I am joining in with a few memes this week as I prepare this vase:  Cathy@Rambling in the Garden for her wonderful meme, In a Vase on Monday, Today’s Flowers hosted by Denise@An English Girl Rambles and Judith@Lavender Cottage who hosts Mosaic Monday.



Next up on the blog:  

Next Monday, it will be time for another Seasonal Celebrations wrap up post.  I hope you will join in.

I am linking in with Michelle for her Nature Notes meme at her new blog just for Nature Notes.  It is a great way to see what is happening in nature around the world every Tuesday. 



I am also joining in I Heart Macro with Laura@Shine The Divine that happens every Saturday.

All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Gardens Eye View, 2010-2015.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only.


  1. Sara D.B. says:

    Thank you, Donna, for this beautiful and interesting post! Who wouldn’t love pansies and violas? Their colours are really “one more beautiful than the other”.
    I have some of them every summer, and when I was living abroad, I made small Finnish flags in our garden with blue and white ones.
    Have a lovely week!

  2. Joyful says:

    Beautiful! The pansy has been one if my favourite flowers since young childhood. The would greet me on the morning dew in my way to school. I now grow them each year but haven’t seen a black one yet. I bet it is very pretty!

  3. Anca Tîrcă says:

    Thank you, Donna, for such an interesting post on pansies!I have just planted some purple and white ones today, lovely flowers! I like your Monday vase, too, very elegant!

  4. Lea says:

    Very pretty Amaryllis! Love the Pansies!
    I buy pansy plants in the Autumn to have Winter color. They will bloom here in zone 7 until the Summer’s heat kills them. Unfortunately this year something (deer, I think) ate the plants. Only one or two survived (out of twelve) and they are just now recovered enough for a few blooms. I have never tasted them, but the deer must have thought they were pretty good!
    Happy Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day!

    • Donna says:

      Yes deer do love then Lea. I used to plant them in the fall and deer would get at them even in winter. They would dig through the snow to get at them. So now I only plant them in pots and keep them up on my back stairs or porch where the deer don’t go.

  5. Debbie says:

    I love pansies and do grow them each year. I have not ever eaten them. This year I am taking a class at a local nursery to make a pansy wreath. I am so excited!

    • Donna says:

      It is Christina….today it is snow and 20s and it looks like Sunday will be the same, but at least these winter days are fewer and far between with 30 degree temps now the norm….if we could get to our normal 40s we would have all this snow gone soon.

  6. Alistair says:

    Donna, great post with loads of information. Pansies,violas, we normally plant up tubs of these in October to give a show the following Spring.
    They survive the Winter but often look the worse for wear by the end of Winter.
    Although they perk up a bit for Spring I am becoming tempted to just wait until the beginning of March, buy fresh young plants (very inexpensive) from the garden centre and they will look great for three months before planting up with Summer plants.

    • Donna says:

      I wish our plants were inexpensive here but they gouge us for plants which is why I grow them from seed. Love to see yours once you plant them Alistair.

  7. Tina says:

    Pansies are such…happy flowers, don’t you think? It’s a bit hot here for them–they’d require more water than I’m willing to bestow, but I enjoyed reading about yours. I didn’t know about the first wedding anniversary thing–way past that now. Happy blooms to you, Donna.

  8. susan troccolo says:

    I can only imagine how happy you are hearing that sound! I’m so grateful for all my friends in the eastern part of the U.S. Thank you for this delightful post on the delicate, yet tough little pansy. They are my go-to flower for so many things. They tolerate the cold, they grow profusely, they double up so well with other flowers. I often stand in awe at the color combinations!

    • Donna says:

      I do adore them especially because of all the colors Susan…and they are fun to combine several colors in one pot. Still cold and snow here…and spring is still delayed by about 2 weeks. I have a ft of snow left and I expect it won’t be gone until the first week in April now given the forecast for the rest of March.

  9. Poppy says:

    Pansies are such pretty flowers, aren’t they? They’re so delicate and sweet and always make me smile. Your photos are phenomenal, thank you! And, I love the quote; it’s SO true! Among my favourite flowers are lilacs and peonies, which grew in my mother’s garden, the latter, I would bring to my teachers in the spring, wrapped up in silver foil. Sadly, they don’t thrive here in our Mediterranean climate, and I miss them terribly every spring!

    Thanks so much for sharing!

    Visiting via Mosaic Monday,


    • Donna says:

      That is sad that you can’t grow them there Poppy….I am glad I could share my pansies with you! And what lovely flower memories you have.

  10. Kris P says:

    The Hippeastrum is a luscious color and your made the most of it in your arrangement, Donna. Your quote at the top of the post rings true with me too – pansies were the first flowers, or plants for that matter, that I fell in love with as a child and that love holds true to this day. I always plant at least a few, even though our weather isn’t entirely hospitable to their culture.

    Best wishes with your spring melt!

  11. Cathy says:

    I was pleased to have grown pansies and violas from seed this season (for the first time), and particularly to see flowers some flowers on the violas in autumn, having sown them at the end of August. Good to hear about their origins from you. As with other vases, your hippeastrum today looks wonderful in its vase/teapot with its short stem, and the touch of greenery was all it needed. You must be so excited watching that snow disappear!

    • Donna says:

      Cathy, how lovely that you have pansies and violas too from seed…..I am 2 weeks delayed here but I have enough Hippeastrum to last until the end of March….then I hope April will bring some spring blooms finally for a vase.

  12. Judith@Lavender Cottage says:

    I’ve always loved pansies for their little faces and the fragrance. Any idea why the stems curl when I cut some for my ceramic pansy ring Donna? I’m thinking I might have to wire the stems to pieces of toothpicks so they’ll sit properly in the ring.
    Cute idea to use your shamrock teapot for a vase – hope something can take its place for the 17th so you can brew tea in it. 🙂
    Thanks for linking to MM.

    • Donna says:

      No idea why the stems curl Judith as I have never cut mine, but I would think it is a survival technique of some kind perhaps. I hope to use the shamrock vase soon too if we ever get rid of all our snow.

  13. Susie says:

    The coloring and shape of the teapot work perfectly with the Hippeastrum ‘Minerva’ and the peace lily foliage really sets everything off. Violas I planted in fall sprang back once the days started warming up a bit. I should taste them.

  14. Cathy says:

    Pansies are such pretty plants and you have a wonderful selection Donna – lovely photos. The vase is great too. Glad your snow is melting!

    • Donna says:

      Can’t wait to plant our my pansies in about a month Cathy….I will be transplanting them this weekend as they are growing bigger.

  15. Lavender Dreams says:

    What beautiful photos. I have a small pot of violas on my table right now. But daffodils bring back memories from my childhood. Enjoy your week my friend! Hugs, Diane

  16. Julie says:

    Thank you for another interesting post Donna – I do love your flower focus posts. I have never grown pansies from seed – I have always assumed they were difficult. I am going to get some seeds and try this year as they are such great little flowers to have in the garden. I also love the tiny violas – they can pompous quite a big scent. Well done for joining in with a vase again – it sounds like it will be getting easier for you too quite soon. I will keep my fingers crossed that the dripping continues.

    • Donna says:

      Pansies really are very easy to grow I find Julie….they germinate fairly quickly and slowly get their leaves. They are a bit slow to grow into flower taking about 12 weeks or more, but well worth the wait. Soon, probably in April, I will have a vase of garden flowers.

  17. Pamela Gordon says:

    What beautiful photos you shared. I love pansies and often have them growing in my flower beds or pots. I like to buy them in early spring for colour and because they are cold tolerant in our late springs. I have heard they are edible but have not tried them or any other edible flowers. Thanks for visiting.

  18. Jackie Smith says:

    That mosaic with the heart in the center is absolutely spectacular. Loved the quote about childhood flowers, as I just saw a Bleeding Heart plant today and was tempted to get it because that is what my mom used to grow near the front door!

  19. Linda Hubbard says:

    What a sweet post. Who doesn’t love pansies and their darling little faces? I learned a lot! Thanks. Your amaryllis blooms make a beautiful bouquet. Very special!

    • Donna says:

      Thanks Lee…our weather turned cold and snowy again and they are saying spring will be delayed now for a couple of weeks. I still wait somewhat patiently.

  20. Glenda says:

    What beautiful flower mosaics – Thanks for sharing. Have never tried to grow pansies myself, but many times have bought some already potted and in bloom.

  21. nicole says:

    I thoroughly enjoy pansies! They have such a character about them! They bring me great joy in the spring as I usually get a pot from my mom every spring! I hope all of that snow melts for you all very quickly! Here is to the season friend! Nicole xo

  22. catmint says:

    great info on pansies. Johnny Jump Ups are among my top fave flowers. This post reminds me that they haven’t jumped up in my garden lately as they used to do. Don’t know why, they had naturalized, but the only thing you can expect is change and unpredictability so I’m not surprised, just miss them.

  23. Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti says:

    I’ve always loved pansies! They look like smiling faces to me. I never heard of their symbolic meaningrepresenting the Holy Trinity–that is beautiful! Your Wade porcelain teapot also looks beautiful with flowers in it! Happy St. Patrick’s Day, Donna!

  24. Life Images by Jill says:

    pansies are such a lovely little flower that take us right back to our childhood. I love their sweet faces but have never had much growing them in my garden. This is such a bright “welcome to spring” post.
    Have a great week and thankyou for stopping by my blog.

  25. Beth says:

    Your pansies are beautiful — I’m so impressed that you grow them from seed yourself! Thanks for sharing all the information about them, as well as your beautiful St. Patrick’s Day bouquet! -Beth

  26. Carolyn Bush says:

    Lovely post Donna. It is so true… we do love the flowers from our childhood! And Violas are one of mine! We called them Johnny Jump-ups as they seemed to literally jump up through the grass in the early spring… only to disappear as the the temperature climbed. Definitely a Spring bloom here.
    So nice to be back at blogging… today is my first day… and it feels good!

  27. Angie says:

    It is recommended here that if you want pansies to bloom in winter you have to buy them already in bloom October time or else they hold back until spring. They are pretty wee things and although I have grown them in the past, they are slug fodder in my garden and for that reason I give them a wide berth!
    You’ve a lovely wee selection and thanks for all the info, much of it is new to me, very interesting.

    • Donna says:

      They are know to be slug fodder indeed Angie….glad you enjoyed my selection. I keep the slugs at bay by planting them only in containers.

  28. Psychelyn says:

    Honestly I have never tried any edible flower except maybe when I was a kid 🙂

    Your post about pansies is very informative. I didn’t learn this much about them until now. Thanks to you.

  29. Alain says:

    Thank you for a very interesting post.
    I grow johnny-jump-ups, Labrador violets and a couple more that I need to identify. In a previous garden I used to grow the Confederate violet, Viola sororia. Being a Southern belle, you would think it would not do well in Canada but in fact it was quite invasive. But I regret not bringing it with me as it was a very useful and attractive plants. A good ground cover in the shade.

  30. Beth @ PlantPostings says:

    I love Pansies, Donna, and you have some beauties! Are all of those in your garden pots this year? Simply lovely. Also, the vase arrangement is so graceful. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

  31. Helene says:

    I am very fond of pansies and have them every winter. I usually buy them late autumn and they will flower through the winter here in London. By the time we get to May or June I usually throw them away, not worth keeping over the hotter period. Thanks for all the lovely info, I have eaten sugar candied violas, but never tried with pansies 🙂

  32. Pam's English Garden says:

    I love their smiling faces, Donna, and enjoyed all the information here. I’m growing them from seed for the first time this year, but they are not doing well. I believe they have damping off disease. I over-watered them, maybe This has never happened to me before so I need to do some research. I’ve decorate salads, etc, with nasturtium, but don’t t think I ate one. Nearly spring, yoohoo! P. x

    • Donna says:

      Oh I am sorry Pam to hear this. They do take a long time to grow into a viable plant. I am having better luck using my seed starting cell system that allows me to water from beneath. Usually I grew them in a plastic salad bin I recycled after using the lettuce. Let me know what you find out.

  33. Laura Hegfield says:

    Same weather here Donna… and the winds, oh my they are really something coming through the woods! I have eaten pansies, violets, and nasturtium in salads and lavender in sauces and sweetened with sugar in cookies! I cannot wait until they bloom here! Thanks for sharing the love up-close with I Heart Macro ♥

  34. Ramblingwoods says:

    More great information for me. I do have these in hanging baskets every years and they are so pretty, but I didn’t know much about them..Thank you Donna..

  35. Indie says:

    I always remember Johnny-Jump-Ups in the garden when I was a kid. I love both violets and pansies. Such pretty and delicate looking flowers! I like the small violets better, even though they are less noticeable. Maybe it’s because we had them growing up, and that endears them to me?

    • Donna says:

      Tatyana I love learning new lovely flower stories and this is sweet. A perfect name for this flower. Thanks for sharing it.

  36. Dee Nash says:

    I love pansies and violas. Like you said, they are sometimes grown as perennials here, but more often overwintering annuals. Sometimes, they even set seed which is nice too. Love yours. Happy Bloom Day.~~Dee

    • Donna says:

      They are a versatile flower indeed Dee….so glad you enjoyed mine. I have about 30 growing from seed right now that are just little plants waiting for about another month to be put out to flower.

  37. Janet/Plantaliscious says:

    Hi Donna, I love violas, so much more attractive than pansies, which always seem a little brash in comparison. I inherited some lovely ones and nthey merrily self seed all over the garden, making me smile. I’ve never eaten the flowers or leaves though, must give it a go!

    • Donna says:

      Hello Janet….hope you are well and spring is showing itself in your garden….I also love violas…such cute little flowers you should give a nibble to. I am just about to transplant about 30 violas and 30 pansies today for the first full day of spring. They are still growing in my basement under lights waiting for our snow to melt but alas it is snowing again today. So we wait!

  38. Corner Garden Sue says:

    Hi Donna,
    I’m glad to hear your snow is melting. I enjoyed your post on pansies and violas. I have never grown either from seeds, but usually get pansies from a local nursery. I am not sure if I’ll get any this year, because we’ve had some unexpected expenses, and I am trying to cut back a little. I have but some of the blooms in salads before.

    Thanks for your comment on my last post. It is fun seeing what all is coming up, and soon, spring will progress further for you as well.

    • Donna says:

      Sue, I know what you mean about expenses so I decided to grow many of my flowers from seed. Our snow is now holding at 1 foot still here as the winter weather has been back for the last 2 weeks of March. Here’s hoping spring will come to the NE soon!

  39. Casa Mariposa says:

    My dad used to tell me stories about eating pansies as a kid. He said they were delicious. 🙂 I scattered some viola seeds in the garden last fall and hope they germinate. They usually satisfy my pansy longings.

    • Donna says:

      Oh I bet your violas will grow….I just transplanted about 30 viola and 30 pansies. Now to wait for the weather to plant them out.

    • Donna says:

      I have been enjoying the amaryllis so much this winter and they really are quite versatile….absolutely I will include your post in my round up….the post will be up tomorrow Jean. Indeed we are having subtle changes except for the weather it seems which did not get the news that spring is here. 🙂

  40. Jennifer says:

    The snow is almost gone here. The temperatures are still quite cool, but getting warmer.
    I adore pansies and I think I finally have the perfect spot for them. They seem to do really well in the window boxes at the side of the house. I can’t wait to see their happy looking faces again this spring.

    • Donna says:

      Oh how very lucky Jennifer….we are still in that cold jet stream so spring is delayed or very, very slow to appear. Oh I bet your pansies are lovely in window boxes…a perfect happy spring flower.

    • Donna says:

      Darrielle so glad you enjoyed my pansies….they are so pretty to grow and such a delight to eat…thanks for your visit.

  41. Patrick says:

    I’m trying the Cool Wave Pansies which actually look more like violas to me. There are 4 in a 2′ basket with 3 other six pack of large purple and white which I think will be overwhelmed by the Waves. I highly recommend them, my dear friend.

    I’m looking forward to a new technique whereby I’ll be putting two of them in ice cubes for a different spin. Will show them on my blog real soon.

    I appreciated your thoughtful comments on my last post. Meant a lot.

    • Donna says:

      My dear Patrick I wish I could be there to give you a big hug and plant some pansies. I can’t wait to see this new technique. And I am trying the Cool Wave pansies too. I just transplanted some from the seedlings growing since the end of January. Now if we could just get some warm weather, I could plant them out in a couple of weeks. I look forward to your next post to see all those pansies.

  42. Chloris says:

    I love pansies too Donna, they come on such a wonderful range of colours. Your flower arrangement is so pretty, hippeastrums look much better if they are cut down and put in a vase. I am trying some from seed at the moment, one of my plants set an enormous amount of black seeds.
    I hope your snow will all be gone soon.

    • Donna says:

      I never tried growing the Hippeastrum from seed but I may have to Chloris. Thanks for the snow melting wishes….can you believe it we are in the 20s again and lots of snow still here.

  43. debsgarden says:

    Yes, I grow pansies, and yes I have eaten them…as a garnish. I have also eaten the leaves of their close relatives, violets, which grow in abundance here. They are delicious; they taste like spinach!

  44. Kathy Sturr of the Violet Fern says:

    I do not intentionally seek out pansies but I always end up with a few – can’t resist them. I love Johnny Jump Ups and even though I plant them every year they never seem to jump around this garden – they jumped plenty in my Maine garden. I’ll end up with a few Jump Ups again because I keep trying. What a beautiful teapot Donna and I am so glad you are actually using it – in the best way possible – to display those spectacular blooms! We still have snow and even though it rained and seems a bit warmer it doesn’t seem to be melting. I am getting discouraged at an alarming rate – time to break out my seeds and start planting – lift up my spirits! My blue jays are back however, and I just bought a new large bag of peanuts.

    • Donna says:

      It is discouraging as the snow really is hardly melting…now a few days in the 50s would help. I am hoping to get some Johnny’s to jump up in my garden year to year so I grew a few from seed and hope to plant them in the garden where they will seed every year.

      The red-winged blackbirds are fighting over territory so spring is closing in….just another week or 2 and I think we may see the shift for real Kathy.

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