This cheery winter-flowering bedding has been adding some cheery colour outside our kitchen door since last autumn.
#013 : Viola x wittrockiana
and Viola cornuta hybrids and cultivars
Lord Gambier and his gardener William Thompson who bred what we would recognise as the Garden Pansy.
In Latin 'viola' means 'violet' or 'the colour violet' - did the flower come before the colour or the colour before the flower? Anyone know? Violas and Pansies are closely related to Violets . . . more about those to follow soon.
I went to a local nursery that grows masses of Violas and Pansies for winter bedding and containers. You can pick up a tray and fill it with the colours that take your fancy – it's like being in a flowery pick-n-mix sweet shop!
I selected mostly variations of purples and blues, with a dash of cream, orange and yellow – the colours closest to the original wild Heartsease, V. tricolor.
What I could not select was the weather – Violas and Pansies hate damp, mild damp and rain that wets their petals and encourages mould to grow where their leaves touch the soil.
I've carefully dead-headed and picked off any mouldy leaves so hopefully as the weather improves they will flower cheerfully for many more weeks . . . they share pots with Wallflowers, Heuchera and Tulips.
So, what's the difference between a Viola and a Pansy? The answer is very little, as they are all part of the same botanical genetic Viola-soup; what matters is size - Pansies are large; Violas are petite and in general have many more flowers on neat compact plants more suited for containers.
I couldn't resist buying a few of the beautiful pinky-red shades of Pansy, the ones with ruffled petals that look as if they've been hand painted. I think
And I'm looking forward to there being enough flowers to pick . . . like these from last year, just after I bought the plants.