Columnist on “A parade of pansies – and violas” • Stephanie Hudak, gardening columnist
The pansies, violas, kales and mustards are strutting their stuff in the city containers and you all need to check them out. To be fair to the “supporting staff,” there are a fair number of euphorbias, ferns, and foxgloves also looking good. But this time we are going to talk about the big, bright and colorful cast of characters – pansies and violas. Although it may well be too late to find any of these special plants in garden centers, you decide which ones you like best now and ask for them to be available next season.
Hands-down winner – and my personal favorite – is Sorbet Lemon Chiffon. This dainty, soft yellow viola has outperformed every other pansy/viola I have ever used. It “weighs in” at 6 inches by 6 inches – not very big by most standards. But what it does is bloom, bloom, bloom – and is not bothered by extreme cold or the increasing warmth of early summer days. Then there is its buttery yellow color which coordinates so well with red, orange, blue, purple, white – well, maybe not the orange – but you get the idea.
A new viola for me this year is Penny Marlies. I fell in love with the subtle purple and gold colors. While other pansies have an “in your face” attitude, Marlies seems to say “I’m classy and don’t need to shout.” Just add some plants with texture, like Red Russian Kale, and it will be the star of the show.
If you are a true pansy fan, check out Nature Frosty Rose. The face isn’t as large as the Matrix or Delta variety but the color is so special – soft shades of pink to rose. Mix that with a gray Dusty Miller plant and you have a winning arrangement . Another beauty that is performing well is Panola Silhouette Mix – a combination of light yellow and lavender blooms, which looks so good with yellow snapdragons. While dark-colored plants normally look like “black holes” in a plant arrangement, Ultima Purple Lace is a worthy addition, even if you can only appreciate its elegant beauty up close. It has deep, dark purple petals, trimmed with a fine white line and sporting a yellow center.
Here are more great violas and pansies whose names alone should get you excited. Go online and check them out. How about: Sorbet Ruby & Gold Babyface; Penny Peach Jump-up; Sorbet Blueberry Cream; Penny Primrose Picotee; or Sorbet Coconut Swirl. And the pansies: Dynamite Blue Jeans, Dynamite Blueberry Thrill or Delta Neon Violet. There are so many awesome pansies and violas available on the market that there is no need to just live with the same old plain yellow, red and purple ones. True, you will have to search for these plants but they will be worth the trip.
Almost forgot to tell you that the first word in the names of these plants is their “series.” So when you look up Sorbet, Penny, Dynamite, etc. it will show you lots of other color variations – how exciting is that? Now you might just have to make your garden bed a little bit bigger.
Check out my blog site (madisoncontainers.blogspot.com) if you would like to see photos of these plants. I’ll be adding more information each week so check in often. Or better yet, take a walk around town and see the containers in person – the map on the blog site tells what is in each container. Isn’t technology great?
“Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine for the soul.” –Luther Burbank
Printed in the January 31, 2013 edition