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Pansies, Violas & Johnny-jump-ups - Charming Color for Fall! 

By Karen England

“…and there is pansies, that's for thoughts.” - Wm. Shakespeare 

As I write this article I am in the midst of planting this sweetest of all plants that I call by the “Old-fashioned” name of “Heart’s ease”. Pansies, Johnny-jump-ups & Violas are all members of the Violaceae family of plants, most of which are perennials that are routinely treated as annuals. 

Although Fall is the perfect time to plant them, they can be used in other seasons of year just as successfully. They should be grown in full sun and/or partial shade with regular watering. I have Johnny-Jump-Ups (Viola tricolor) that reseed every year in container gardens, cracks in concrete, and all over the yard. I greet them when they appear as if they were dear friends, smiling at their cheerful presence because they really do give one’s “heart ease” as the name suggests. I plant them from both color packs amd from seed packs, and today I am using them as a cover planting over a large bed of Daffodil, Dutch Iris and Ranunculus bulbs. The violas will give long lasting color now and the bulbs will easily come up and bloom through them. 

As long as you do not use pesticides you can eat violas to your “heart’s ease“! Pansies, violas and Johnny-Jump-Ups are all fun edible flowers. I freeze the smaller viola blossoms in each of the cavities of an ice cube tray (use distilled water for the clearest ice) and they make beautiful floral ice cubes to cool and decorate cold drinks. Similarly, I also use the larger Pansy (Viola x wittrockiana) blossoms in an ice ring to go into a party punch. I usually decorate my cakes with the fresh viola flowers since I never have enough time to candy them. However, candying the blossoms is another good way to preserve them and requires only a small clean paint brush, superfine sugar and egg whites (or meringue powder if you are concerned about salmonella). First, lightly beat the egg whites and use the brush to paint the viola flower completely with the egg white. Next, dust the blossom with the
superfine sugar to coat. Set aside to dry completely. Store in a single layer in a dry place. Use to decorate cookies, cakes and candies. Another trendy use is to add the viola blossoms to your next mesclun salad for spectacular addition to lunch or dinner. 


Karen England has been “Spreading a little Sunshine” for Sunshine Gardens, Inc. for 30 years! She is happy to answer your garden questions by email - kengland@pacbell.net. She and her husband garden together at their home in Vista. 

Karen England is the "Queen of Edgehill Herb Farm". www.edgehillherbfarm.com.

 

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