Sunday, April 6, 2014

Vintage Violets

As spring approaches, I am starting to make excuses to drive by my favorite plant nurseries on the way home from work.  Inevitably, I'm drawn to some of my favorite flowers--violets and pansies.  Their colorful, cheerful faces brighten any gardenscape or windowbox.

Viola tricolors have long been featured in vintage ephemera, including greeting cards and postcards.  A favorite of floral artists, the flowers are known by many romantic nicknames including heartsease, come-and-cuddle-me, Jack-jump-up-and-kiss-me (or Johnny jump ups), tickle-my-fancy, love-true, herb-constancy, love-in-idleness, Jack-behind-the-garden-gate, call-me-to-you, kiss-her-in-the-buttery, and kiss-me-ere-I-rise.

The original word for pansy can be found in the French language:  penser.  The flower is associated with good fortune--or good things happening when one is in the vicinity of this plant.  Some of its non-romantic nicknames include Kit-run-in-the-field, biddy's eyes, and godfathers.

In homeopathic medicine, violets have been used to treat heart weakness.  Violets are also used to garnish food, including cakes, cupcakes, and salads.

No matter what you wish to call them, violets add a vintage sweetness to the garden, and their saucy faces ease the most winter-depressed hearts into gladness.

Source:  "Romance in Bloom", Country Gardens Early Spring, 2014, 83.