• Laurel Contributor

Winter Pansies

by Jeannie Chambers


Let’s rock! Diminutive Pansies take center stage during the fallow season of Winter.


With a real name like Viola x wittrockiana, the pansy sounds like she’s got a split personality. The word pansy comes from the French word, pensee, meaning thought, or remembrance.

A very sweet looking flower, delicate, diminutive, and some people tend to see it as a weed. But bring in its Latin name wittROCKiana, and you may understand why this flower is featured in the Winter Issue. Granted, the name wittrockiana is actually derived from the Swedish botanist, Veit Brecher Wittrock after being studied at length by Lady Mary Elizabeth Bennet and James, Lord Gambier, but I like to think the Pansy is rockin’ the garden scene in winter when almost all of the other flowers have taken a long winter’s nap.

Although these plants are considered perennial, they usually die off like an annual after the second year of growth. This is just another trait of its anthem: Live hearty, then die. Okay, I made that last part up, but think about it. They’ve got a name like Pansy – they’re made fun of for being weak looking and weedy, but underneath, they’ve got this super-hero type attitude that says ‘I’ll show them!’ and they do. The rest of the flowers back off silently and die away while the Pansy lives on through the most brutal time of the year. Take that, all other flowers!

Pansies can thrive in zones 4-8 and can survive light freezes and snow. If a long snowy period is forecast, you can put a little mulch on.

Consider the mulch like the robe a prize fighter wears when waiting to get back into the ring. Where do you think Rocky got his name? Wittrockiana, of course.

After getting the witts knocked out of him anyway. Okay, I made that up too.

The little dark, almost black blotches on the face of the flower are often called faces. I remember as a child thinking the Pansies talked to one another in the garden.

The Pansy has been the topic of many poems and artwork over the years and is deserving of every accolade given. Did you know that Margaret Mitchell named the heroine of “Gone with the Wind” Pansy before changing it to Scarlett?

Enjoy a small winter garden of pansies and let them rock your world as you remember those you love.

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