Showing posts with label pansies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pansies. Show all posts

Monday, June 12, 2017

1896 - Part Three: Summary of Whittrock's "A CONTRIBUTION TO THE HISTORY OF PANSIES"

This is the final part of Whittrock's article.  

The two previous installments, with delightful illustrations, are:

  • 1896 - Part One: Whittrock's "A CONTRIBUTION TO THE HISTORY OF PANSIES"
  • 1896 - Part Two: Whittrock's "A CONTRIBUTION TO THE HISTORY OF PANSIES"



AS the chief result of our investigations, we see that the Pansies of the present day form an aggregate of very different forms of plants produced by hybridisation between various species of the genus Viola (sect. Melanium). 

Their original stock was V. tricolor, L., but several other kindred species of Viola have been crossed thereon, and one among them, Viola lutea, Huds., to such a degree that it has probably had a larger share in the production of the Pansies of the present day than V. tricolor. Thus in their entirety they cannot exactly be compared to what in systematic botany is termed species or variety. 

They certainly should not be called by a name formed according to the rules of binary nomenclature. If a general Latin name seems desirable, I should propose Viola x hortenses grandiflorze, when “ x " signifies the hybrid nature of the forms belonging hereto; the word “hortenses” that they are garden plants; and the Word “grandiflorze,” that they are large-flowering; this to distinguish them from the small-flowering garden Violas of the type of Viola odorata, L.

On comparing the Pansies of the present day with their wild ancestors, we shall find that as regards form, the most conspicuous characteristic of the Pansy flower is that its cross diameter is almost the same as its long diameter, or that it is nearly circular, while in the parent species the flower is constantly much longer than it is broad. The large cross diameter of the Pansy flower is a consequence of an excessive development, more especially of the middle petals. It not unfrequently happens that these petals are the largest, which is never the case in the parent species.

As regards the spur, the Pansies generally follow the short-spurred parent species, Viola tricolor, L., V. lutea, Huds., and V. altaica, Ker. Only a very few Pansies are longspurred,‘ these showing their descent from some of the long-spurred V. cornuta, L., V. calcarata, L. (or V. stricta, Dicksons 8; Co.).

In respect to colouring, Pansies show a far greater variety and wealth than all the parent species, whatever variety of colour a couple of these may present. There is scarcely any colour or shade—with the exception of green, which is so unusual a colour in flowers—that it is not represented in one variety of Pansy or the other. Selfs are white, yellow, red, violet, blue, brown, and black. The colours most difficult of production for the Pansy-raisers are pure blue and pure red. There are now, however, blue Pansies of several kinds. Clear reds in fiery-red and blood-red are still a desideratum. 

 Many-coloured Pansies, as is well known, exist of almost innumerable kinds. That which is common to nearly all of them —but is not found in the parent species of the Pansy—is the large dark blotch at the base of the three lower petals. These blotches are evidently derived from the dark rays of the wild ancestors of the Pansy.

Whatever variety of colour the Pansy may show, one part of the flower is always of the same colour, viz., the so-called eye, or that part of thelowest petal, which is immediately in front of the entrance to the spur. This eye, called by botanists the honeyguide, is always bright yellow, and is the same in all Pansies, even in selfs. This yellow spot, which is the guiding star to insects when visiting the flowers— which is of such great importance for the fertilisation -—seems to have reached such a degree of resistance to all the changes of outer life that it will not give way to anything.

The same seems to be the case as regards the colour of the spur, as in all Pansies which I have had the opportunity of examining—even the pure white, pure yellow, &c.—the spur, at any rate towards the tip, is coloured with violet of a lighter or darker shade.  Why the violet colour so perseveringly remains through all circumstances on this limited spot, is not easy to explain. It is probable that it serves as a kind of protection for the honey contained in the upper part of the spur.

Finally, let us see what problems are still to be solved by the Pansy-raisers in the immediate future.

Foremost amongst those we must place the question of making the Pansies perennial instead of annual or biennial. A remarkable step in this direction has already been taken by the English and Scotch Pansy-raisers, who, with very good results, have used the perennial V. cornuta, L., for crossing with garden Pansies. Much. however, still remains to be done. Those species of Viola most suitable for Pansy hybridization are undoubtedly V. calcarata, L., and V. altaica, Ker, as. both have a very powerfully developed perennial stem, have large and beautiful flowers. and can both of them without any difficulty be cultivated in our gardens. Another species that deserves recognition is Viola latisepala, Wettstein, lately introduced into our gardens from the Balkan peninsula, a perennial species which, on being cultivated here, has evidently thriven remarkably well.

Next to obtaining perennial Pansies, we must place the aim of producing good varieties that come true from seed. In many places these attempts have been crowned with tolerable success, more especially in respect to the selfs ; but very much still remains to be done.

No pains have been spared of late by the Pansy cultivators of Great Britain to increase the charm of the Pansy by obtaining perfume as well as beauty; but by a more extensive use of the odoriferous alpine species. Viola cornuta, L., and V. lutea, Huds., var. grandiflora (L.). Vill., for hybridisation, doubtless much may still be done in this direction.

Probably in direct opposition to most Pansy-raisers, I consider it most desirable to obtain more variety as regards the form of the corolla of thePansy. For sixty years the Pansy cultivators have almost unanimously endeavoured to make the corolla of the flower as circular as possible; and it is undeniable that the corolla type obtained by these means, and now reigning almost supreme, is beautiful —ay, very beautiful; but this fact does not prevent other forms of tho corolla from being as attractive to the eye that has learnt to admire those products which Nature herself offers us.

As in a wild state Viola tricolor, L., produces pelorias both with and devoid of spurs, the raising of Pansies of a similar structure should not present insurmountable difficulties. A similar form has long been under cultivation from V. odorata, L.   If, in addition to this, we remember the existing forms of the double Pansies which, by suitable cultivation, may doubtless be greatly improved, it seems to me that it is very probable that our gardens will be in time adorned with Pansies which give the impression of wealth and variety, not only as regards colour, but also in respect to form. .

At all events, it may in truth be said that—even if only remembering what has already been done--the garden Pansies plainly prove what hum1n intelligence, coupled with skillful perseverance, can perform in a department where it is a question of giving pleasure to millions by caring for, improving, and multiplying plastic forms of these lovely plants which Nature, even in the North, so generously offers us. 

Professor V. B. Wittrock, Stockholm.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017


This second part of V. B. Wittrock's article ... 



IN the thirties, one of the favourite flowers of the English was the Pansy, which competed with the Rose itself for popular favour. Both distinguished amateurs and talented nurserymen devoted themselves to the cultivation of the Pansy, and gained one success after another. The English horticultural societies offered prizes for the finest flowers. Every nobleman, every owner of an estate wished to have their special collection of Pansies, and the nurserymen, who were well rewarded for their pains, did everything they could to keep alive the interest of the public by constantly producing new varieties. 

In the middle of the thirties (1830s) the price for new and good varieties was 5s. a plant, and for specially excellent ones a far higher price was paid; £10 was offered for the seedling of “Metropolitan”, and refused.

Those varieties raised from 1820 to 1836 certainly possessed larger and more brilliantly-coloured flowers than their wild ancestors, but as regards the form of the flower no change was made, it being still more or less elongated in the same way as in the wild Viola tricolor, L., or V. lutea, Huds.    

During the latter half of the thirties, however, a change took place, as, dating from 1836, the first object of the British Pansy raiser  was to get the flowers as circular as possible (fig. 122).

In The Floricultural Cabinet and Florists' Magazine of the above-mentioned year, this quality is described as more to be desired than all others, and but a couple of years elapsed before this ideal was attained. The magazine just mentioned of 1838 and 1839 contained several figures representing new varieties of Pansies, and among these we find at least two, viz., Ne Plus Ultra and J. Burley's Lord Durham, the flowers of which were almost perfectly circular.

In the beginning of the forties the interest for Pansies rose to such a pitch that special 
horticultural societies were formed solely devoted to this plant.

The Hammersmith Heartsease Society held its first Pansy show in 1841, and continued them for a long course of years.  At the present time (1893) it has been succeeded by a society having the same objects in view, called the London Pansy and Viola Society.  In 1845 the Scottish Pansy Society was formed in Edinburgh, which has shown such vitality, that from that day till now it has continued its activity with great success.

By these two Pansy societies, formed in the forties, certain demands were made on the 
Pansy flowers, which were to be complied with before the flower could obtain a prize at the shows. 

The principal demands were:
  1.  The flowers should be circular.
  2.  The petals should be even, thick, and velvety.
  3.  The colour should be either uniform (selfs), or else but two (belted flowers).

But besides these, several other requirements were enumerated, and, curious to relate, these demands were fully realized in a large number of varieties raised at that time.  Indeed, for about twenty years these show Pansies reigned almost supreme in Britain. All other varieties produced by the Pansy-raisers were discarded and ruthlessly destroyed.

The effects of this partiality in time, of course, became apparent. However interested the British public might be in the charming flowers of the forties, it must at last become evident that the numerous so-called new varieties continually appearing were, in fact, but a constant repetition of the five well-known types.  The need of a change in this respect began to be more and more obvious.

Salvation then came to this lovely English flower from France and Belgium in the form of an 
entirely new class of Pansies, viz., the so-called Belgian or fancy Pansies. Here we find just what is wanting in the show Pansy, viz., great variety of colouring, the brilliant colours being prevalent, and a distribution of colour not only according to the old well-known scheme, but also on a number of others that agreeably appeal to our inherent love of beauty.

In the early thirties the English Pansy was introduced into France, and was there cultivated

by skillful horticulturists, who took great pains in further improving it. Among these Pansy-raisers let me mention Miellez of Lille, and James Odier, the owner of Bellevue Castle(this is an amazing recent story of the building) near Paris.  From the latter come the Odier Pansies, remarkable for the enormous development of  the blotches on the three lower petals, which is so characteristic of the fancy Pansies of the present day, and specially for those belonging to the Cassier, Bugnot, and Trimardeau classes.

In Belgium they also strove to improve the English Pansies in the thirties, and partly in the same way as in France, without regard to the laws of beauty laid down in England.

The French fancy Pansies were brought before the English public in the early fifties by John Salter, but gained scarcely any approval.  By the prejudiced English they were dubbed “French rubbish",  and it was only in 1858 to 1860 that the interest of the British public was aroused by a whole series of brilliant French forms of Pansies chiefly imported from the florist previously mentioned, Miellez of Lille.

These fancy Pansies were cultivated by eminent horticulturists in the north of England and 
southern Scotland, where the centre of the cultivation of Pansies had been removed in the latter half of the fifties, in consequence of a destructive disease which had laid waste numerous Pansy grounds in southern England.  New and splendid forms were now raised in great numbers, more especially by the activity of William Dean of Shipley, and Downie, Laird and Laing of Edinburgh, and in time these Pansies became so general and popular, that in 1871  The Scottish Pansy Society decided to offer prizes for this class of Pansies at their shows.  Special rules of beauty were fixed which the judges had to follow when considering the several merits of the fancy Pansies on exhibition.

But now—as in former times with the English show Pansies—it happened that the limitations outside which it was deemed there could be no beauty, were far too narrow. 
The perfectly-circular form of the flowers was still one of the chief demands, the edges of the petals were to be without waviness or unevenness of any kind, and—most remarkable of all no other Pansies than those provided with large blotches were entitled to a prize as fancy Pansies.  

This last rule has certainly greatly contributed to the fact that, in spite of their varying colours, the fancy Pansies have a tinge of monotony about them.  The large dark blotch is seen everywhere, and in many cases this blotch is so large that it almost covers the entire surface of the flower (fig. 123). The general public has shown broader views in their ideal of beauty; and doubtless this is the cause why the fancy Pansies are being superseded by the far more unassuming but more natural bedding Pansies and the tufted Pansies or Violas.


The bedding Pansies are characterized by flowers of a smaller size, but at the same time they flower more richly and longer than the typical fancy Pansies, and have their lower growth and are more branched. By these peculiarities they are specially adapted for the production of numerous flowers, and make particularly pleasing beds, and it is from this fact they have their name. The original bedding Pansies Were direct descendants of the fancy Pansies, and, as a general rule, bedding Pansies are but richly flowering, more dwarf-like fancy Pansies.

The tufted Pansies or Violas have essentially another origin. They are derived from the English Viola lutea, Huds., as also from the Pyrenean fragrant V. cornuta, L., both crossed with garden Pansies. 

Their characteristics are: 
  • a more perennial habit ; 
  • a tufted growth; 
  • smaller flowers which are not circular, and 
  • generally spread an agreeable perfume.
Cross-breeding has undoubtedly always played a great Idle in the production of new forms of pansies, but in most cases without any plan, insects crossing varieties cultivated near each other. The horticulturists have simply made their selection among the numerous forms which have arisen as a result of this crossing performed by Nature herself. The tufted Pansies, on the other hand, have chiefly to thank for their existence Pansy-raisers, who themselves undertook the hybridization.      James Grieve of Edinburgh, in 1862 and 1863, crossed Viola lutea from the Scottish hills with the ordinary show Pansies of that time; and about the same time William Dean began working in a similar way in the north of England.

From these and similar hybridizations not a few of the tufted Pansies are derived, more especially those in which yellow is the prevailing colour.  Viola cornuta, L., has played a still more important part than V. lutea.  Dating from 1863 it has been used by different Pansy-raisers for crossing with varieties of dark Pansies in particular. 
Thus, in 1867, Dicksons & Co. of Edinburgh produced the, relatively speaking, large flowering dark purple Vanguard, concerning which it is stated that it is derived from hybridizing V. cornuta, as female, with a dark purple Pansy as male flower. About this time B. S. Williams of Holloway sent out his noted Viola cornuta Perfection, and somewhat later the fragrant Sensation. These and other hybrids of V. cornuta were afterwards used for further hybridization with suitable Pansy varieties; and by these means—more especially thanks to Dicksons & Co. and to Dr. Charles Stuart, of Hillside—a considerable number of new varieties of tufted Pansies were raised in the seventies. 

During the last two decades a most interesting kind of tufted Pansy has been raised, viz., the Rayless Violas, which have flowers of but one colour, free from the ordinary dark rays or streaks, whence their name. The first time I find any mention made of them is in 1881, when in The Garden Wm. Robinson related that at Laing's of Stanstead Park Nurseries, he saw two kinds of such Pansies (Hybrida tribe and Golden Queen of Spring). Not until the very last years of the eighties did they become more widely known. 

Then appeared Charles Stuart's well-known Violetta, a very small-flowering almost pure-white fragrant tufted Pansy, the product of a cross between Viola cornuta, L, as the female parent, and the Pansy Blue King as the male plant. Dr. Stuart lays special stress on the fact that in hybridization with V. cornuta it should be used as the female, and thePansy chosen for the occasion as the male plant, if a progeny be desired resembling V. cornuta as regards perfume and perennial duration. Violetta has in turn produced a numerous offspring (among others, the celebrated Sylvia), which, together with other rayless tufted Pansies, play an important part in the shows of the Scottish and English Pansy societies.

Besides the species of Violas already mentioned, in very rare cases Viola calcarata, L., has been used for the improvement of the Pansy.

Viola calcarata Vill. [as Viola zoysii Wulfen]
From Dicksons & Co, of Edinburgh, a statement has reached me that Viola stricta has been used for the same purpose (Ariel, stricta alba, Indiana, etc., are said to be derived from this species; but it is evident that this Viola stricta cannot be the Viola stricta of the botanists.

Dicksons & Co. declare that their Viola stricta is an Indian species.  In consequence of this statement, I wrote to the author of the Flora of British India, Sir Joseph Hooker, concerning the matter, and in reply, he says, "There is certainly no Indian species remotely even allied to the cultivated Pansies."

It has been mentioned above that a. double Pansy was known even to Parkinson, the old English writer on horticulture (1629).  In the present century double Pansies have now and again made their appearance, among which the most known is probably Good Gracious, a variety which was cultivated largely in Ireland and Great Britain in the middle of our century, and “Lord Waverley" from the Hale Farm Nurseries, near London, in 1876.

Into Germany the English Pansies were introduced during the thirties, but it was not until the fifties and sixties that the German Pansy-raisers began to produce new varieties. As an instance, let me mention Negerfurst, the product in 1861 of careful selection made year after year by C. Schwanecke of Oschersleben, and Kaiser Wilhelm, introduced about 1872 by Chr. Lorenz of Erfurt. At the present day the German cultivation of Pansies ranks very high.

The northern limit of the Pansy is attained in Norway where it has been cultivated with perfect success in several places in the arctic region, in East Finmark at 69º or 70º north latitude.

(to be continued with a summary)

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Friday, March 31, 2017

19th c. - Pansies...What's In A Name?

A lot, I think, is in a name!  

In today's seed trade a name can make or break a sale I have read.  But how can you ignore names from the 19th century that are so magnificently awkward to our ears?  

(Plus, the word bloched has added a "t" in the last 100 years.)

How about Bugnot's for a name?  

Was there a Mr. Bugnot, famous for pansies?  I'll have to look and see. :-)

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

1844 - The Pansy, Grand Duke of Russia; A Lovely Litho

My mother always bought me a pot of pansies for my birthday so they have become a flower that always makes me feel good when I see them.  While I buy my own now, her gift is always there.  This litho stands out for its charm!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

1884 - D.M. Ferry's Pansies - Collection of the Nine Best

Tis the in Connecticut!  I have some flats out on the porch but the snow is still piled where they are to go.  Perhaps a big pot this year?

I am researching lettuces at the moment but when this colored plate turned up in the D. M. Ferry catalog on the way to an illustration for Early Tennis Ball lettuce I could not resist!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Pansies in the WW I Trenches and Other Images

I promise not to put up any more pansy cards this year.  Scout's honor.

I thought I had harvested most all currently available but I worded the ebay search differently tonight (pansy lady) and turned up some interesting images, many French.

This one was WW I.

 The next one reminds me of the creepy flower ladies in the
 last post who were in some other plant.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Surreal and Creepy, Charming and Sappy Pansy Art - Plus Other Weird Stuff

Pansies are heavily used in cards since they mean, in the language of flowers, "thinking of you" more or less depending on what author and from what period you are looking at.

While most are like the first card here, this one is nicely done.  The others  are a selection of cards I found interesting...from perfectly sappy to perfectly weird; the strange womens' heads on the dark pansy down below is evil looking!

Was the muscle man picture glued on a pansy a message?

I think my best find for odd is right below, Baby For Sale"  with the huge pansy below indicating thinking of you? What is this saying?

The next one might creep you did me.  The top lady is demented.

Why would the publisher flip the image on this fair maiden pansy?  The card above the creepy one faces the other way.

I hoped to find the whole alphabet, but only found multiple S and P.
Nicely painted though.

Know your signaling flags?  (These are pretty looking nonsense.)

The next one was illustrated by Francis Brundage.
Interesting life!

Anyone old enough to remember Andy Devine and his weird piano playing cat, Midnight? Midnight was in a dress (as I remember) and I assumed some sort of device  to keep it upright and trapped so it pounded the piano and made cat faces. It all came back to me as I looked at the next card!! 
When I Googled it  some clips on YouTube turned up from Andy's Gang, the TV show that are very odd.
They were as strange as I remember.  I used to have to turn the channel sometimes.