Showing posts with label pansy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pansy. 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.

Sunday, May 21, 2017


was working on gathering illustrations for a more specialized history of the Show and Fancy pansies when I found this article in The Gardeners' Chronicle of 1896.  This one is more "fun" so I jumped ship to do this one first!

As usual, my interjections are in italics and reddish brown.

OPINIONS vary among botanists as to the origin of the cultivated Pansies. Charles Darwin discussed the question in his Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication, but arrived at no definite conclusion, saying on p. 369, “Hence, after having carefully compared 
numerous varieties, I gave up the attempt as too difficult for anyone except a professed botanist.”

My own investigations have led to the following conclusions :—

The botanists of ancient days knew of only one kind of Viola, namely, Viola odorata, L., and those of the Middle Ages were acquainted with no other.

The Heartsease, or wild Pansy, Viola tricolor, L., was first mentioned and described by O. Brunfels (1533), and L. Fuchs (1542), both Germans.  The latter relates that “Herba Trinitatis”— the name by which the Heartsease was then known—was not only found wild, but was also cultivated as an ornamental plant in the gardens of Germany.

1542 - De historia stirpium commentarii insignes... , Fuchs

The name Pansy, so far as I have been able to make out, is used for the first time in botanical literature in 1537, by the Frenchman Ruellius, where it occurs in the Latin form Pensea.

B. Dodonaeus, from the Netherlands, is the first to use the name Viola tricolor for the Heartsease.

From the works of Dodonaeus, Dalechampius, and Gerarde, we learn that during the latter part of the sixteenth century the Heartsease was used as an ornamental plant in the Netherlands, France, and England, and that the flowers thereof showed no slight variety of colouring.

Parkinson, in 1629, describes and delineates not only the common Viola tricolor, but also a form with double flowers from gardens in England.

From the middle of the seventeenth century Viola tricolor has existed as an ornamental plant in Italy, Denmark, Sweden, and Poland.

We learn from J. W. Weinmann, Ph. Miller, and D. Villars that Viola tricolor was a very general ornamental plant in Germany, England, and France during the eighteenth century, and Weinmann’s Phytanthozoa Iconographia, published in 1745 (with coloured plates), enables us to form an exact idea of the appearance of the Pension at that time, as the eight coloured figures representing Pansies show flowers that are neither larger nor otherwise coloured than the varieties of Viola tricolor growing wild.  (BELOW)

Phytanthoza iconographia -Vol.3 -pg 595

Besides those small flowering V. tricolor Pansies already mentioned, from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century more large-flowering kinds were cultivated, even if but seldom, of Viola lutea, Huds., growing in the mountainous districts of Germany, Switzerland, and England.  
Seboth, J., Graf, F., Die Alpenpflanzen nach der Natur gemalt,  (1839)

 C. Clusius, the renowned botanist, in 1583 gave the first description of this plant from specimens cultivated in the gardens of J. Camerarius, of Nuremberg. In the celebrated Bishop’s garden, at Eichstett, in Bavaria, four varieties of large-flowered V. lutea Pansies were cultivated in 1613, all being delineated in the gigantic Hortus Eystettensis.

Bessler, Basilius, Hortus Eystettensis,
vol. 1: Primus ordo collectarum plantarum vernalium, t. 21, fig. II (1620)

J. Parkinson mentions the great yellow Pansy as in cultivation in England in 1629.

From Holland and Poland there are also statements concerning the cultivation of large flowering Pansies in the seventeenth century, doubtless Viola lutea.

That this species was cultivated in England during the eighteenth century is proved by a statement by Ph. Miller in the Gardener's Dictionary.  Miller certainly calls the Pansy in question V. calcarata; but as he expressly states that it came from the mountainous districts of North Britain and Wales, there can be no doubt that the true V. lutea, Huds., is really meant.  Viola calcarata, as is well known, is not found in Great Britain, being a native of the Alps.

All the Pansies of the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries may be called wild Pansies, as in all essential points they resembled those growing wild; and it is only in the present century that, thanks to the action of man, those numerous varieties of garden Pansies have been produced which, in their display of flowers, so vastly surpass their wild relations.

The Pansies of the present day were originally raised in England. In the early days of the present century several amateur horticulturists in England began to pay special attention to the Pansy, as for instance, Lady Mary Bennet, of Walton-on-Thames (1810), Lady Monks (1812), and Lord Gambier, of Iver (1813 or 1814), who instructed their several gardeners— of whom Thomson, of Iver, deserves special mention—to obtain as many varieties of Wild and cultivated Pansies as possible.   (I think there may be some confusion here, as Lady Mary Bennet became Lady Monck...or maybe not.)

Seeding was now undertaken on a large scale in specially suitable soil, and from the seedlings thus obtained those with the largest and most beautiful flowers were selected; and continued selection was made in this way year after year. By these means no small number of unusually beautiful and large-flowering varieties. were obtained, which were undoubtedly largely hybrids, that, without any intervention from man, were produced by insects which, on visiting the flowers of the different varieties and species cultivated side by side, caused a rich cross-fertilization. 

The species of Viola cultivated were those native to England, viz., the common Heartsease, Viola tricolor, L., and the yellow large-flowering Viola, V. lutea, Huds.

Winkler, M., Sudetenflora, t. 11 (1900)

The last mentioned was cultivated on a large scale at an early date, as is proved by a statement made in 1819 by Dean Herbert, the well known horticulturist and botanist, that “the great Heartsease,” which, under the name of Viola grandiflora, was then sold at Covent Garden, was identical with V. lutea, Huds., from Yorkshire and Durham.

A circumstance specially favourable for the formation of new varieties of Pansies, is that the hybrids of species of that section (Melanium) to which belong the two species just mentioned, as a. rule are more or less fertile, while hybrids of species belonging to other sections are generally sterile.

Reliable statements prove that dating from 1816, Viola altaica, Ker, a native of Siberia and the Caucasus (illus. below), was cultivated in England. It is more than probable that this species played some slight role in producing some of the Pansies of those days. Several authors have even ascribed so much importance to the part played by Viola altaica in the origin of the Pansies that they consider it their real parent. This is, however, in my opinion, a mistake, as, with the exception of bearing large flowers, the Pansies of our century have scarcely a single characteristic in common with Viola altaica, and this species seem always to have been—as it still is—a great rarity in European gardens.

1816 - The Botanical Magazine - Viola altaica

During the twenties and the thirties, the cultivation of Pansies became more and more general in England. J. Harrison tells us that from 1827 to 1833 nearly 200 new varieties of Pansies were raised; while Charles Darwin relates that in 1835 there were 400 named varieties of the Pansy on sale in England.

An account of the then demands on a good Heartsease was given by J. Paxton in 1834: 

“ The flower-stem must be of sufficient height and strength to raise the flower above the foliage of the plant; the petals of the flower large, flat, and without notch or fringe on the edge. The colours must be clear, brilliant, and permanent. The eye should be small compared with the size of the flower.” 
V. B. Wittrock, Stockholm.
(Dr. V. B. Wittrock was the Director of the Botanic Gardens, Bergisland, Stockholm, Sweden.)
(To be continued).

Well, it will be continued if I can find the next part!!

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.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

1922 - Pansy Seed Worth More Than Gold!

"Men have fought, have suffered, have betrayed friends, have undergone untold hardship, have perished in the pursuit of gold worth but $20 an ounce and all unawares have made a football of fortune that lay  close to their homes. It seems a far cry from gold to pansies, but pansy seed is worth from $30 to $50 an ounce, more valuable than gold. Why not dare all to gather pansy seed?

How many acres of placer ground will yield $5000 net a year, year in and year out? Not many, possibly, even in the best of ground, for gold is exhaustible. Yet within Portland's city limits is a pansy farm that pays its owner $5000 and more a year net, and he farms six .acres. His seed cleanup on each acre averages about 16 pounds each year, and this 16 pounds of seed sells for $3000. "
From the article at the end of this post.

In the September issue I published a brief account of the pansy seed enterprise of E. J. Steele, Portland, Ore.    
AMERICAN SEEDSMAN has been fortunate in securing several pictures of this form and its products and these are reproduced on this page.

The three small views show workers harvesting seed in one of the gardens, beds covered with canvas to hold moisture for germination, method of curing seed. The largest picture shows a basket display of Mr. Steele’s choicest blooms, and the other a close-up of the plants in bloom.

Mr. Steele's finest pansy is the “Irene", a henna-hued bloom. He has also perfected a ruflled pansy, the “Masterpiece”, and hopes soon to present a bloom rose-pink in color.

"Concentrate your efforts on the extra fancy stock", advises Mr. Steelc. "Anybody can grow pansies, but not everyone can create something newer, finer, diflerent. In the creative field lies the greatest profit in the growing of pansies.”

Mr. Steele has in his file the names of a large number of “live" customers for his seed. The demands for seed have become so great that he is unable to fill orders for certain varieties.

He has been in this business for nearly 30 years and is conceded to have the largest pansy farm in the world. There are about two million plants set out at one time. The seed is picked by hand  with one acre yielding about 16 pounds of seed.

Here is the link to the full, large PDF of the Sunday Oregonian article below.

The Unitarian Register, Volume 101,  had this news that mentions Steele.  

I just found this 1918 ad.  Seed prices certainly fall once they are no longer "new"!!!!!


Now, this trade card is for Broom's Soap...but it is a Pansy Girl!! 
 Might as well stick it here for you to  enjoy.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

The New Pansies of 1835

I have begun to poke around looking for pansy art and gossip and I found this wonderful series of publications with these to-die-for tinted engravings.  You should go to the Biodiversity Heritage Lab to view the 19 volumes of  The Floricultural Cabinet and Florist's Magazine.  I noticed while dipping into many of them that the calceolaria was a very popular flower in the 1830s.  Are calceolaria at garden centers now?  You know how you don't see what you aren't looking for often?...maybe I just haven't noticed them.  They are fascinating in engravings!

That carnation below is something, too!!  I have only seen wimpier streaked carnations in real life.  Why do I only see blah carnations in stores? Perhaps I do not go to the sort of stores that have them.

I like the white ones that are everywhere and adore the smell, but I could fall in love with flowers like this boldly marked Princess Clementine!! Who was she?

I believe this is she.