Section Articles

Pansies - for every lady

In England, these lovely flowers are a real symbol of Valentine's Day - they are given to each other by lovers and put into congratulatory letters. Particularly shy people simply send a dried flower with a name in an envelope - this is quite enough for their feelings to be understood by the addressee, and the author of the message felt some reassurance. This is probably why the old English name of this plant lives so long - “Heart 's Ease ", which means" heart tranquility "," heart simplicity "," heart lightness ".

Viola Tricolor,

John Keese, lithograph,

~ 1870

This tradition dates back to the times when modern pansies did not yet exist - large, double, corrugated, with or without eyes, and only their wild ancestor, Violet tricolor was grown (Viola tricolor) - a small and more inconspicuous plant of meadows and fields, littering grain arable land and garden lands.

Europe is the center of distribution of the tricolor violet. This species is distributed throughout its territory, from Scandinavia to Corsica, in the western part of Asia, in Siberia and the Caucasus. Thanks to English settlers, it naturalized in America - in particular, it is found in large numbers in the vicinity of Washington.

To date, about 500 types of viola are known, tricolor violet is only one of them. The flowers of the tricolor violet consist of five petals - the lower one, white, with clearly visible purple veins, two lateral, yellow, and two upper, deep purple. This structure of the flower was the source of many names born to different peoples, but similar in nature: Goldfather and Goldmother (Godfathers and godfathers), Hens-and-roosters (Chickens and roosters), Bird's eye (Bird's eye), Tree-faces- under-a-hood These are just some of the names, about two hundred of them are known in total. Nothing speaks more eloquently about the general attention and love for this plant.

In pagan Russia, many two-colored plants were called Ivan da Marya. Along with the tricolor violet, this name is endowed with the mariannik oak (Melampyrum nemorosum), having brightly colored purple and yellow bracts, and a few more plants. The origins of the name "pansies" are not exactly known, but time has brought to this day the old Slavonic legend about the village girl Anyuta with a kind heart and trusting radiant eyes, who died in longing for an insidious seducer. At the place of her burial, pansies grew, in the petals of which all her feelings were reflected: in white - hope, in yellow - surprise, in purple - sadness.

Violet tricolor

Back in the 4th century BC. the Greeks began to use this humble plant for medicinal purposes. For the procurement of medicinal raw materials, syrups were cooked, with which many diseases were treated. Violets were an indispensable component of a love drug, which is sometimes associated with the appearance of the name "heart's ease" many centuries later. They were grown in gardens, added to salads and sweets, and used in cosmetics.

According to legend, one day several mortals saw Aphrodite bathing. The angry goddess turned to Zeus for intercession, who did not punish them with death, but turned them into violets. This is how the ancients explained the resemblance of a flower to a curious human face.

L. M. Bonnet. Pleasure.

Jupiter and Io

Another ancient legend tells how Jupiter (Zeus) fell in love with the daughter of the earthly king Inach - Io, famous for her beauty and inaccessibility. She could not resist the mighty thunderer, but incurred the jealousy of his wife, Juno (Hera). To save his beloved, Jupiter hid her under the guise of a snow-white cow, but this made her inconsolable. Trying to alleviate the suffering of the unfortunate woman, Jupiter ordered the earth to grow exquisite food for her - a delicate violet, which later became known as the flower of Jupiter and became a symbol of girlish bashfulness.

In the Middle Ages, violets acquired a religious meaning.Christians saw in the three lower petals of the flower the all-seeing eye of God the Father or the three faces of the Holy Trinity. In many ancient European herbaria, they are given the name Herba Trinitis (Trinity Herb), Trinity Violet (Trinity Violet), Trinitaria. In Russia, she was respectfully called "Troicin Light".

In Christian art, she symbolized humility, St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153), adviser to the French kings, who played an outstanding role in the formation of the Catholic monastic order of the Cistercians, called the Virgin Mary "the violet of humility." In the 17th century, the Trappist Order emerged from this order, which gave the violet a three-color terrifying symbolism - a flower reminiscent of the frailty of life. They were planted in cemeteries in memory of the dead. In the northern provinces, until now, white pansies are never given or used in bouquets. But at the same time, the flower served as a symbol of fidelity, it was presented to lovers and placed in the images of pansies, as in a frame, their portraits. And sometimes they even decorated coats of arms with them - King Louis XV granted the coat of arms in the form of three pansy flowers to his court physician, doctor of surgery François Qenet, better known as the founder of the economic school.

Until now, in France, the old name of pansies is in use - pensees, from the word penser (think). By nightfall and in damp weather, pansies tilt their flowers, protecting the front of the flower from raindrops and dew, as if in deep thought. In French, this word came from Latin pensare (reflect, brooding). In England pensee transformed into pancykeeping the same meaning.

In France and Germany, they saw the face of an evil stepmother or simply a woman punished for curiosity in a flower. And someone imagined the stepmother in the lower wide and significant petal, in the other two on the sides - her own daughters, and in the upper petals - two stepdaughters.

They guessed on pansies, predicted the future of love relationships by the number of purple veins on the petals of a flower: four veins meant hope, seven - eternal love, eight - inconstancy, nine - parting, eleven - early death for love.

In many European countries, they were endowed with the mystical power of a love potion. It was believed that you can take possession of the heart of the chosen one, if during sleep you splash a few drops of flower juice on him and stand in front of him at the moment of awakening. The one he sees first will become his lover. In Yorkshire, the name of the pansies "Love in Idleness" has survived since that time, which they received for the power of love spells attributed to them. This plot was used by William Shakespeare in the play "A Midsummer Night's Dream." In the play Hamlet, Ophelia says to Laertes: "... and these are pansies, for clarity of thought."

Illustration for a collection of poems

"Romance of nature"

Anna Louise Twamli,

England, 1830s

Nowhere has pansies achieved such popularity as in England. In the language of flowers, they meant "concern", "absorption", "loving thoughts." Poets of the Victorian era have dedicated many lines to them. The most famous of them, Elizabeth Barrett-Browning (1806-1861), writes in the poem "A Flower in a Letter":

Pansies for all the ladies ... (I got it

That no one who wears such a brooch

Will not notice the lack of jewelry in the mirror).

But let's not get ahead of ourselves, this already applies to cultural pansies.

The first who began to grow them in his garden from seeds and described this plant in detail was Prince William of Hesse-Kassel. At the beginning of the 16th century, he tried to breed garden varieties. It is known that Vandergren, the gardener of the Duke of Orange, managed to get five varieties in the 17th century.

At the beginning of the 19th century, Lady Mary Elizabeth Bennett, daughter of the Earl of Tankerville of Walton-on-Thames, decided to please her father, an ardent lover of plants, and for the celebration of dancing and boating on the estate, with the help of her gardener, she planted in the garden a flowerbed in the shape of a heart with wild pansies and decorated the terrace of the castle with them.Her gardener, William Richardson, began collecting seeds from the largest and most beautiful specimens and sowing them. They were freely pollinated by insects and produced new varieties that piqued the interest of gardeners and breeders.

Almost simultaneously, in 1813, Admiral Lord Gambier and his gardener William Thompson in Buckinghamshire began to select tricolor violets with large and unusually colored flowers and cross them with other species - violet yellow(Viola lutea) and just described and brought to Europe Violet Altai(Viola altaica). The first results differed little from the wild type, but in 1829 Thompson discovered flowers with expressive spots-eyes on the petals, and named the variety "Medora". From him was born the variety "Victoria", which has become widespread throughout Europe. This is how the first hybrids, classified today as Vittrock's Violet, appeared. (Viola x wittrockiana), and Thompson secured his place in horticultural history as the "father of pansies." The scientific name of pansies was given a little later, in honor of the Swedish professor of botany Veit Brecher Wittrock (1839-1914), director of the Bergen Botanical Garden, who deeply researched the history of these plants and wrote a book about it.

Violet Vitrokka

By 1833, Charles Darwin already numbered more than 400 varieties of pansies, including fragrant ones, which inherited a delicate aroma from yellow violets. This diversity was indicative of the remarkable progress of floriculture in England, but garden magazines of the time lamented that many garden owners "the poor pansies were still condescending to be noxious weeds." D 1839, pansies were widely marketed and industrialized. The ability of new hybrids to reproduce by seeds predetermined the success of this crop.

The wild tricolor violet is odorless. The famous English botanist John Gerard wrote in 1587: "The flowers are similar in shape and appearance to violets, and for the most part the same height, three different colors - purple, yellow and white, because of the beauty and splendor of which they are very pleasing to the eye, for the sense of smell they give little or nothing."

According to a German legend, once they had a wonderful scent, and people came from everywhere to enjoy it. But they trampled all the grass in the meadow and deprived the cows of feed. Pansies began to ask God to help the cows, and then the Lord took away the scent from them, making it even more beautiful in return.

The delicate scent of pansies is most pronounced in the early morning and at dusk. The most fragrant are the yellow and blue varieties, which are closest to the parental forms. In England, the perfumery scent of pansies has become the most popular. Is it for this that the British awarded them another name - Ladie's Delight (Ladies' Delight)?

In the middle of the 19th century, many varieties of pansies were obtained in Scotland and Switzerland, hybridization was carried out along the path of increasing the size of plants and flowers, and breeding forms without dark spots and veins. By the end of the century, Scottish grower Dr. Charles Stewart had accomplished this task, producing pansies with flowers of a solid, smooth color, without spots. Presumably, he used for crossing horned violet(Viola cornuta) from the Pyrenees.

Already in the 1850s, pansies crossed the Atlantic and quickly spread to North America, where they were called Johny Jump Up, with different variations: Jack-jump-up-and-kiss-me (Jack-jump -and-kiss-me), Pink-eyed-John, Loving Idol, Call-me-to-You. In America, pansies became an enduring symbol of free-thinking, which was widely reflected in the literature of the time. In 1888 U.S. mail catalogs, pansies are represented as "The most popular of all seed-grown flowers"... Sales exceeded 100 thousand bags a year, which is a very large figure even by the standards of the modern market.America contributed to breeding, at the beginning of the 20th century large-flowered varieties of red shades with flowers up to 10-12 cm in diameter were bred in Portland (Oregon).

Violet Vitrokka

For a long time, England and Scotland held the lead in the selection of pansies. By the middle of the 20th century, the initiative was taken up by Germany and Japan, where pansies of new colors were born - pink, orange, two-color. In the land of the Sun, the plant received the name Sansiki-Sumire, becoming a symbol of the city of Osaka and for a time surpassing in its popularity the pride of Japanese garden culture - chrysanthemum. Japanese breeders have created heterotic F1 hybrids characterized by rapid growth, early and long flowering, increased viability and disease resistance. It is these varieties that make up most of the modern industrial assortment of Vitrokka violets.

In the early 70s of the last century, Parisian breeders Bugno, Sainte-Briet, Casier and Trimardier bred varieties with huge flowers and such colors that were previously considered impossible. The Trimardier varieties had flowers twice the size of the usual ones, and Kasier received varieties with a marble color. They had increased endurance and began to supplant the old English varieties. Today, France and Germany are leading the way in introducing new varieties of pansies. Thanks to German breeders, corrugated, wavy and orchid-colored pansies with widely symmetrical flowers, giant varieties with unusually early flowering, appeared.

Over five centuries of breeding and hybridization, pansies have acquired the widest range of colors among the annuals. There are purple, red, blue, bronze, pink, black, yellow, white, lavender, orange, apricot, burgundy, purple. The height increased from 6 to 20-23 cm, the plants began to bloom profusely. Monochrome or two-color, satin or velvety, they look at us with their funny faces, sending greetings to the Victorian era, when the first English gardeners started breeding pansies, so that for many centuries they gave people the joy of heartfelt communication and ladies' delight.