If you want to insult a man, call him a pansy. It's one of those words that can be used in mixed company and stings without the need to resort to profanity. But the only man that will take umbrage with being called a pansy is a man who hasn't grown one in a garden before. A man that gardens knows pansies are tough. Pansies are among the few annuals you can plant in your garden in the spring that will take the cold and rain and keep coming back. This year I grew 'Violet Wing' pansies that came in the plant sample box that Ball Horticulture sent out to garden communicators to trial in our gardens.
Like many men would, I tossed out informational material provided with the box of plants without reading it. I mean, who needs instructions to grow plants? They're pansies. I've grown pansies before--it isn't that hard. It wasn't until a couple of weeks ago when I was preparing this post that I realized I should have read the information packet.
Apparently, "Cool Wave" is more than just a marketing term. It actually describes the growth habit of this series of pansies. These are "spreading" pansies and are selected to be grown in container gardens to trail over the sides of your pots.
All summer long I kept wondering what I was doing wrong and why these pansies kept falling over the sides of the self-watering planter I was growing them in and touching the deck. At first I thought maybe they were so long because they didn't have enough light, but the container garden is in full sun. So that couldn't be the problem.
Since we had a horribly hot and dry summer, I thought maybe the pansies were falling over the sides of the planter because of the heat. It almost drove me mad trying to figure out what was going on with these plants. Had I read the information Ball Hort provided, I would've know they're suppose to spill over the sides of planters. They reportedly spread a good 30 inches, making them ideal for containers and as a ground cover. They're also suppose to be pretty hardy and will return in the spring in some gardening zones.
Another feature of this pansy that I really liked was the way the light-colored petals of the flower start off a creamy color and slowly this blue tint appears and spreads in the lower petals. One day you have creamy white blooms and the next time you look at them it looks like an ink pen leaked in your shirt.
I was also surprised by how well 'Violet Wing' performed in the container garden considering the drought we experienced this year. Normally, I'll plant some pansies in the spring and tear them out in the summer when they stop blooming when it gets hot. But these guys kept blooming all summer long and never stopped. They were still blooming two days before I wrote this when I finally tossed the plants in the container garden in the compost pile.
If you're looking for a "spiller" in your container garden combinations, give pansy 'Violet Wing' a shot in your garden. It is one tough pansy.
Got a favorite pansy? Do you prefer the large-flowered types of pansies, or do you prefer the smaller blooms of pansies like 'Violet Wing'?