In the Spotlight

tolly-beckWritten by Tolly Beck
Tolly Beck is the horticulturist at Lasdon Park and Arboretum in Westchester County. She was formerly a horticulture educator for New York Botanical Gardens in the Bronx and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Rockland, NY.

In the Spotlight

   Pansies are often sought after plants for spring gardens and containers. The lovely colored flowers with their happy faces are a welcome sign that winter is soon over and spring is on the way. They withstand cold temperatures well so they make an ideal flowering plant for a season that can be very variable.
   The origin of today’s pansies dates back to the early 1800’s in Iver, Buckinghamshire, England. It was here that Lord Gambier and his gardener William Thompson began to cross a variety of viola species which were the ancestors of the pansy. In 1839 William discovered a cross that began the new species of viola, V. x Wittrockiana. The pansy of this new species was named ‘Medora’. This pansy and future pansies became popular with gardeners and breeders throughout Europe. Their popularity spread to North America and pansies were described in an 1888 mail order catalog as the most popular of all flowers grown from seed.
   Pansies are best grown in a well-drained soil. They prefer a cooler location which morning sun will provide. Plants should be watered in well when planted and not allowed to become too dry.
The Shop at Lasdon is currently selling 4” pots of these cheerful plants as well as flats of pansies. 
If you are longing for a sign of spring, plant pansies!