pansies i have loved (part 2)

pansy-paletteI ADMIT TO BEING A CREATURE OF HABIT, even stubborn (just ask my sister). So when I heard that the two varieties of violas I intended to use this spring were “not available this year” (a phrase I do not take kindly to), it was not pretty. When all alternate sources proved dead ends, I was forced into a whole new palette…no easy feat when your house is painted the darkest olive with the hottest red-orange trim. Sigh.

viola-terra-cottaThere simply was no ‘Terra Cotta’ (above) nor any of my most-favorite-ever viola, ‘Blue Bronze’ (bottom of page) to be had, and it was too late to start them from seed when I found out.

As I mentioned last year about this time, I have rules for everything, including how to grow violas and pansies (as if just being stubborn isn’t enough, I’m also sometimes rigid). The pansy-and-viola rules involve the scale of the containers I like them in (low, preferably bowl-shaped, as you can see in this other post as they awaited planting) and the number of varieties per bowl (one, and only one, period).

By now I hope you know that when I say “rules” I do it to poke fun at myself; do as you wish in your own garden, and have fun doing so. But if it’s rules you want, well, then, here are mine.

This year’s elements in A Way to Garden’s pansy-and-viola palette (top) are four: a solid-orange pansy called ‘Delta Series Pure Deep Orange’; an intermediate-sized pansy with a reddish-and-gold bloom called ‘Panola Series XP Fire,’ plus two violas: ‘Sorbet Series Black Delight,’ which I have grown for many years, and cheery yellow ‘Sorbert Series Baby Face Primrose,’ whose blotch is darkest purple. As I said, it’s hard when your house is not a simple color combination; both Jack (the cat) and I have our dwellings painted quite vividly, as you can see below (that’s his place at left; mine across from it to the right).


We’ll see how it all sorts out as the newly potted bowls fill out in the coming weeks; meantime, I’ll be here with visions of ‘Terra Cotta’ and ‘Blue Bronze’ (below) still fixed in my head, being the cranky kind of thing a person without her best-loved pansies can be…until the new ones win her heart, that is. What charming little pansy and viola faces have won yours this spring, or in springs past?


    1. margaret says:

      @Chiugal: Wonderful! Like a giant version of the viola ‘Blue Bronze’ that I love so much and miss. Oh, dear, there I go yearning again…

  1. entangled says:

    I had Chigal’s Blue Butterfly last year, except it was called Karma Blue Butterfly. Enormous flowers on that one. I prefer the smaller Historic Florist Mix, but that would violate the rule about only having one kind per container. ;-)

  2. margaret says:

    Welcome, Josh, and here’s the issue: As you might have already suspected from the headline, tee hee, you are not my first. Seriously, though, I love seeing what’s going on at Beekman1802’s new site, thanks, and really look forward to the doings in May together there for your “garden party” event.

    @Welcome, Entangled. Even I can be swayed, sometimes, by a group of such pretty faces. :) See you here soon again, I hope, and bring more treats like that link.

    @Johanna: Apparently the wholesalers my local nursery uses imposed a 5-flat minimum on each of those two varieties on the teeny plugs (which is a TON of tiny babies) and it just wasn’t practical. We didn’t know in time for me to get the seeds and sow a flat of each (a seedling flat of each, not a plug flat, so many fewer plants). Next year!

  3. Nancy says:

    I love the violas that look like Johnny-Jump-Ups…don’t have a good way to paste it here. I have not seen them since 2005…

    1. margaret says:

      Well! And welcome, Iris. Obviously you have bloody marvelous taste. :) What a nice greeting for me to awaken to this rainy spring Saturday, just as the first Narcissus are opening and life feels pretty good. Thank you. And do make the trip again, yes? We will be waiting for you.

  4. susan says:

    I love the rule of only one color(I do not follow rules well, but I like this one for pansies), for years I only planted purple pansies. I not sure of their names, but purple is my favorite. Will be shopping for them this week, can’t wait to plant.

  5. Joan says:

    The blue bronze pansies are just gorgeous. I’m glad you had a photo–I keep coming back to look at them. I love your new choices too. The oranges the past few years have been perfect. I have purple, white and orange pansies and voilas blooming now that have wintered over–they’re tough little plants.

  6. Meg says:

    I have usually skipped pansies…I love them but I teach school and this time of year is so busy that there is just time for my tried and true bulbs and quick peeks at the perennial bed to see what’s poking up. But this year I need need NEED color so I’m diving in. My question…how to I plant them and then plant annuals mid May or early June? Don’t they overlap enough to make that tricky?

    1. margaret says:

      Hello, Meg. Here the pansies and violas get to be pretty much done in by the heat that comes on in June, so I time my warmer-season annuals to replace them, and just swap things out. I often shop for my warm-season stuff then hold it here and water it until I’m ready to use it, rather than miss out on the stuff I want. I grow all my violas in pots; I sometimes “recycle” some of the violas into the ground after their pot duty, since they are inclined to come back the next year, or sow around.

  7. heather says:

    You’ve inspired me – even if it is a little cold here in Canada, I went ahead and planted up a couple of my garden urns to welcome Easter. I love your mass planting of one colour and copied your idea with “Halloween II”, a very dark purple/blue which contrasts nicely with the grey of the cement urn. In the front I filled a “rusty” iron planter with “Apricot Shades”, a mix of coppery colours. It all turned out great. Thanks

  8. Kassie says:

    I have been trying to find my favorite pansy, Imperial Antique Shades, without success. They are shades of salmon, dusky pink, etc. Instead I just brought home some johnny jump-ups that are a nicely weird off-purple, but surprisingly, are labelled with the Antique Shades labels! Nice taunt, Ward’s !! Very happy today– my first daffs opened, and I’m seeing the tips of my peonies coming through…it really is spring now.

  9. joey says:

    I adore pansies … hard to choose a favorite … I want them all (so end up with lots) and also love ‘terra cotta’ … a favorite, favorite … that also compliments my house.

  10. suzanne says:

    Another antique vase. Ilove it! Pansies my most favorite and I think are named Cobalt blue . Put mine in on St. Pats day along with the peas. Suzanne

  11. chigal says:

    It drives me bananas when the seed catalogs only offer the flower I want as part of a mix. There’s always something salmon I’d never plant, in the mix! Too much salmon loaf as a kid.

  12. lisa aka.carrot-juice says:

    i just returned from a local grocery store garden centre… they had ‘psychedelic blue butterfly’ pansies, and i’m very disappointed to report that they do not have that delicious brownish colour. the pictures that the seed company provides is absolutely breathtaking, and i’m so sad because i was sooooooo looking forward to planting these beside my brilliant blue door on my brown house! they would have been perfect…. i was actually going to paint a container to match the flowers. ha ha ha!

  13. lisa aka.carrot-juice says:

    p.s. my darling little shih-tzu is named pansy, because she has black splotches on her little furry white face. she’s just as sweet as a pansy too…

    1. margaret says:

      Welcome, Lisa. Yes, a big disappointment this year. Next year I will get the seed or ask the nursery to special order them for me. I am very disappointed this year w/my pansies and violas, really not exciting. And every nursery near me had ones I didn’t really want. Sigh. Next year.

  14. chigal says:

    You’re right! My psychedelic blue butterflies (from bought seed) are just blue with yellow, and the black “whiskers.” No gorgeous bronzy happenings like the pic, although it could be that they’d only get that much color in full sun? And they’re not huge, except by violet standards. I was just thinking about saving seed this year and came back here to see if anyone had theories on the outcome of planting seeds from a hybrid like this. Maybe I will anyway, but wtf? (pardon my french)

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, Connie — I was thinking about which colors I want to do this year. So many great choices. Hope to see you again soon!

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