Friday, November 28, 2008

Garden Plants in Profile: Pansies

Gardens can be a drab gloomy place during winter months, however with some careful planning and the right mix of garden plants, a colourful, garden with a warm feel can be achieved with ease. Pansies are one species of plant that can be often overlooked throughout the colder months of the year but with a little care and attention can provide a great source of winter colour.

Pansies a type of 'viola' are part of a broad range of garden flowers that can even include hybrid species such as 'viola x wittrockiana' or 'viola tricolor hortensis'. All variations of the viola fall under the pansy umbrella and come in a range of vivid colours such as gold, orange, purple, red, violet, white, and yellow. There is even a black pansy although in reality it is actually a very dark purple.

Of course, with years of careful breeding, many variations on these colours are now available. Pansies have a distinctive flower pattern consisting of five petals with contrasting markings in the centre of the flower surrounding the stem This pattern is often referred to as 'the face'. Incidentally, it is this 'face' gave the pansy its name. The French word for pansy is pensée, which translates as thought. This petal arrangement always follows the same pattern with two overlapping top petals, two side petals and a single bottom petal, which has a small indentation in it.

The first 'universal' pansies arrived in gardens during 1979 and were well received due to their ability to flower during the winter months. These pansies could be planted and grown during the summer while still being able to flower throughout the winter months. These types of garden plants were bred with some specific intentions in mind. These were, to withstand winter weather conditions, to stay small and to be able to flower when days are shorter.

Garden plants such as a pansy grow best when they are facing the sun. They can survive both short freezes and temporary snow cover. Planting in containers and using rich soil and mulch can dramatically help get the best from your pansies. Planting pansies in large numbers throughout beds or in containers and hanging baskets provides a great way of helping to protect against cold while offering a wealth of colour in gardens that can often seem drab sat this time of year.

Brightly coloured pansies stand out more during darker days. Mixed citrus pansies for instance, give a blast of colour for long periods and are perfect for well-drained soil and love lots of sunlight. Another example of this family is the Matrix pansy that comes in a dazzling array of colours, and along with all our other bedding plants, grown only from F1 seed type.

If you want something a little different to the traditional pansy however, perhaps the frizzle sizzle pansy is the garden plant for you. The plants differ due to their frilly edges that can appear similar to ruffles. Again, perfect for beds and all types of container, no matter what style of garden you have these pansies will make the perfect accompaniment. Another distinctive yet beautiful pansy variation is the Red Wing. This gorgeous plant has two dark red top petals that resemble wings and can be planted in a variety of locations adding to its versatility.

Of course, for maximum effect it is generally advised that opting for lighter coloured pansies will stand out more on darker days. Colours such as white, primrose and sky blue offer maximum effect, providing a welcome warmth and sparkle on a dull day. Using a mixed pack of winter pansies could prove to be a good bet as a fair mix of plants will be found in these packs. Using a mixture of colours will also stop beds or containers from looking staid and help make your garden area more eye-catching,

No matter whether your garden is large or small, favours hard landscaping, or has bed, borders, and rockeries, pansies are versatile enough to be used throughout. These garden plants are perfect in pots and can be a colourful companion when placed adjacent to garden furniture or garden ornaments. Pansies can be a cheerful, lively addition to almost any setting and are sure to bring a smile to your face when the weather turns grey.


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