As many of you know Reel Gardening has introduced a new flower into our Autumn Bee Food Box. This is extremely exciting as autumn approaches! It is the perfect time to get your hands on some of that good organic Pansy seed and start planting.
Pansies are vibrant, beautiful and easy to grow and can flower throughout autumn and winter in most of South Africa. How exciting is that! This means we can have beautiful flowering gardens in the colder months, so lets get growing!
Many people call them little faces; this is because the colouration of the delicate petals resembles an enchanting little face on the pansy flower. They are also known as ‘Johnny-Jump-Ups’, ‘Monkey faces’, ‘Peeping Tom’ and ‘Three Faces’. The flower is often talked about in literature and is a well-loved favourite in South African gardens, and it has quite an interesting history.
Pansies are hybrids derived from the viola species. Their history will always be linked to their ancestor the Viola. The Pansy (with the face) we are familiar with today originated in 19th century England. A Lord and his gardener started crossing different variations of the Viola. The gardener William Thompson was the breeder accredited with the creation of the modern day Pansy. Clear pansies without a face were bred around the mid to late 1800’s by Scottish grower, Dr. Charles Stewart.
The Pansy derives its name from the French word pensee, which means “thought”, the belief was that pansies could make your lover think of you. The Victorian meaning of sending pansies is closely linked to the French meaning, as it is to think of love.
In Ancient Greece they were associated with love and fertility and even used in love potions. This continued all the way through to the Shakespearean era where the pansy featured in some of William Shakespeare’s plays. In a Midsummer Nights Dream Pansies were used as a love potion and played a significant role creating a central theme throughout the play of love manipulation.
The association between Pansies and love doesn’t end there. According to legend Pansies only gained their coloured varieties when cupid shot an arrow into the white Pansy. Even King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table consulted this magical flower; certain traits of the flower could foretell a change of heart, constant love or even tell if there will be prosperity.
Pansies have held a fascination with creative breeders and they continue to produce new breeds of the flower. In the past 50 years breeders have created new shades of pink, rose or orange and different bicolour creations. The Pansy is still wildly popular so you can just imagine all the breeds yet to come.
Hermia and Lysander. A Midsummer Night’s Dream, John Simmons, 1870, Watercolor heightened with gouache on paper laid down on canvas, 89 x 74cm, Private Collection. Found at: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Simmons-Hermia_and_Lysander._A_Midsummer_Night%27s_Dream.jpg
The Pansy will continue to amaze you, not only do these flowers have a fun and interesting history, but they are also durable and can grow through all seasons and are a great autumn flower. They smell amazing and are well known for their beautiful perfume-like fragrance, which you and the bees will love!
They are a beginners gem as they are easy to grow, can grow almost anywhere and don’t need much space This means you can plant them in hanging baskets, bags, pots, or directly in the ground. Pansies love sunlight so choose a spot that is going to receive full sun in autumn/winter. If they don’t receive enough sunlight the plant will become weak and spindly.
Pansies love loamy soil with lots of compost! (Click here to visit our Soil Blog to find out what type of soil you have in your garden.) Our Reel Gardening pansies are simple to plant, like all our seed tape, just cover the tape with soil up till the coloured strip water the tape daily initially then sparingly through winter, and watch them grow.
Remember to remove dry old flowers to make space for new growth and to prevent seed formation so you have your beautiful flowers blooming for longer. Pansies also don’t often suffer from diseases or insects, which is a great bonus.
Why include it in our Beefood Box?
Our Beefood Boxes are designed to be the ultimate pollinator attractors. They are easy to grow flowers that will bring bees and other great pollinators into your garden.
Our Autumn Bee food box is especially vital to assist in preserving our dwindling bee numbers during the time when food sources are most scarce. We all know how important bees are as pollinators maintaining a balanced eco-system and supporting our own food chain. So how exactly does having autumn/winter flowers the bees are attracted to help in preserving their numbers?
Honeybees collect nectar and convert it into honey to feed their larvae. They store honey in the hive to provide food for winter and for times when there are few nectar-secreting flowers available. When nectar is in short supply, bees will eat the honey stored in the hive. When that honey is finished, the colony will starve. Starvation can be prevented by making sure that bees have lots of food from nectar yielding plants, especially over winter so that they don’t have to deplete their honey reserves. The bees’ sensory capabilities help them find nectar by directing them to flowers of specific colours. We have carefully selected the best mix of flowers that will attract and feed the honey bees.
Not only will you be helping to save honeybees and getting great pollinators into your garden there are many other fun and fascinating reasons for you to start planting you very own autumn Pansy garden, such as:
They are beautiful, making your garden a visual gem, especially as they can bloom in winter when everything is usually dry and barren.
The flowers are bright and come in various colours which attracts beneficial insects to your garden such as pollinating bees
They are easy to grow!
They are edible and go great in salads, puddings, teas, water infusions and cake decorating.
They have a beautiful fragrance which is said to be perfume-like and the most potent scent belongs to the blue or yellow pansy flowers.
They are relatively disease and pest free.
They are great for other skin ailments (including eczcema and sculp conditions improving hair quality), allergies, inflamation, sore throats and may even help protect from cancer. They have a good dose of potasium and phytonutrients, flavonoids and antioxidants.