As a wildflower that was first noticed in the 1400’s, this cheerful little flower became the most popular flower in the world by the mid 1800’s when many color varieties had been developed from its parent flower, the Viola. Their name in French, “Pensee”, means Loving Thought, and if a lover was near (and a bouquet of pansies were as well), the lovers could communicate without talking. The German name for these cute flowers with their human-like expressions is Little Stepmother or “Stiefmütterchen”, from an old folk story.
They appeared in Shakespeare’s plays as ingredients in love potions, and on Art Nouveau and Victorian era postcards to forward the senders thoughts and well wishes.
Pansy themed pottery and china was very popular in the Victorian and Art Nouveau eras. Look for vintage pieces at garage sales and antique stores – they make wonderfully whimisical serving pieces. Adorn your cake or tart with candied fresh pansies from your garden.
Here is an example of a c.1890’s Celluloid Photo Album with a pansy design.
They are one of my favorite flowers! They thrive all fall and winter here in Southern California and only finish blooming in the hot start of summer. They are very easy to grow and thrive in sun, part sun and sometimes a bit of shade. They just need water, fertilizer and some removal of the spent heads.
They will just keep on blooming.
Here is an antique Carlsbad Oyster Dish with a fabulous Pansy motif:
And a hand painted c.1900 German cup and saucer:
They make darling bouquets and sweet arrangements for your tiny vases but a big impact with their color and sunny personality! * * *