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I can’t imagine a spring salad without historic pansies gracing my plate.,,,

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I have been growing old-fashioned  pansies (historic pansy growing with Chard 2014) in our Urban Potager for many years. I have grown a variety of other pansies. and the colors and faces could never compete with these dainty beauties.I usually pair them with my spring vegetables.  This spring I mixed them with  Coreopsis “Mahogany Midget,” Alyssum,  two types of  Kale, Cilantro,  and Red  Romaine lettuce. They make me smile every time I walk by their garden bed.

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This historic pansy mix is available from Baker Creek + Seed Savers Exchange. I plan on saving seeds from my favorite colors this year. A few years ago there was only one place that sold the historic pansy mix! They were in a package of only 25 and the thought of not seeing their beautiful faces each spring would be something I dearly miss! I will let them stay in this bed this year and see if they reseed. I have had no luck in having them reseed in our weather, but you never know.

IMG_8330A potager is flowers, herbs and vegetables mixed together to create an attractive edible garden. I love mixing all the textures; I am enjoying Red Russian + Lacinato Kale mixed with the pansies this year.

IMG_8276I put the dinosaur kale towards the back of this garden bed and edged with the historic pansy and alyssum.

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The  Red Russian Kale mixed with flowers adds contrast in our edible garden bed. This bed would be suitable for a front yard in the city. I will see how it lasts throughout the growing season. Our intense humid, summer heat can be difficult for many of our plants. This summer may be a bit cooler than usual. I am keeping my fingers crossed.

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The colors are so unusual, and their faces are intricately detailed.They are like little presents from the garden for the mix always surprises you from year to year as to which colors will show up.

IMG_8417I am enjoying the colors in this mix for 2015. Next year, I will start a bed just for seed saving to see if I can get a mix of these from my garden for future plantings. I will always have these in our garden even if the seed companies don’t feel they are worth saving.

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To me when they are floating in a garden they look like a “living” watercolor painting

IMG_8304I love the golds…

IMG_8270They come in so many different shades + detailed faces … I love them all!

IMG_8303I love how they blend away from their faces with a mottled mix of soft colors…

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According to Dr. James Duke ( author of The Green Pharmacy) pansies are an outstanding source of bioflavonoid rutin( read more about rutin). If you eat pansies, it will “lessen your susceptibility not only to bruising but also to glaucoma, hemorrhoids, and varicose veins.” He claims more rutin will be found in the white and yellow pansies and less in the blue /violet colors.  Pretty interesting that we can take care of some of our ailments with beautiful flowers in our vegetable beds!

IMG_8423Pansies make beautiful salads. Don’t you think?

IMG_8445These little gems from our past not only provide us with pretty faces they keep our bodies healthy….so make sure you make room for historic pansy in your potager.  You won’t regret it, trust me.

Written by Robbie

M.S. Education, , Organic Gardener, soil + nature lover, former modern dancer

54 comments

  1. First up I read the title for this wonderful post as “Hysterical pansies”. I was waiting for the punchline for half a post before I realised my error! Goes to show how busy we are here. I might have to grab some pansies to scatter around Sanctuary. Truth be told, I haven’t even been up to see Sanctuary in over a month! Life is so busy (and so cold) that we congregate in our kitchen at the kitchen table near the ever basking warmth of Brunhilda slaving away making websites and phone apps like little (underpaid) elves in the North Pole. I think we might have to take issue with our working conditions soon and go and picket Santa! Hope your summer is blissful and that everything is going well for you Ms Robbie 🙂

    1. Hi Fran!!! That is me jumping up and down:-) I stopped by your site and wondered if you posted again:-( I love you new blog and all you both are doing. It looks great. Hysterical Pansies- me lately for I have not been posting much or getting anything done for the blog= I just can’t get to the computer.
      I know your time at the “table” creating will be changing when your warmer weather hits sooner than you think. Ours is going along rather quickly. As each bloom/food passes-another takes it place + I ponder… it moves quickly:-( Must be I am getting older but the years go pretty fast after 50!
      Yep, Santa needs to “match” your account! Does he provide a 401 k (match) for his busy little elves-hmm-he needs to:-) back at ya, don’t work too hard + do get out there and visit Sanctuary-she misses you:-)

      1. Steve is out there now watering the glasshouse and seeing if there is any spinach left (rats ate most of it 😦 ) to put in tonights quiche. I have to pull a website rabbit out of a hat today so not much else on the cards aside from that :(. With you on the speed of years passing. This one is zooming away and pretty soon we will be back to the heat of summer (and me complaining all over again 😉 ). No time to post at the moment. Every waking hour seems to be spent trying to satisfy our lecturer. He is a most demanding “Santa” 😉

      2. I don’t envy your Santa-glad my Santa(s) are in the past. I love learning, but under pressure these days, I suck! I use to juggle a lot of stuff with all my kids, work etc…but now-I can’t seem to even get a post up for I get too frazzled with things around me-LOL..busy is for young people. I can multitask still but not as efficient as in my younger days. Now I trip over my own feet and have to make sure I don’t walk into a glass door! I have a crooked finger from being jammed, fell in the garden over my own two feet—-I hope your life slows down soon:-) But you are a few years younger than my 57-I am now as of May! How the hell did that happen-I am closer to 60 than 50-LOL

      3. Yep!!! I have slowed my work/walking pace- for I trip over the cracks in the road these days—- but I must add, I learned to fall in my dance training so I “collaspe” very gracefully-lol! Just can’t function like an octopus these days as I did when I was younger multi-tasking:-)

  2. That’s beautiful. I will be going out looking for pansies this weekend to plant with the mizuna and kale in the beds.
    (Plus I love that Coreopsis “Mahogany Midget)

    1. Make sure you don’t eat that Mahogany Midget-lol-just kidding:-) They really are sweet little pansies. You can grow Mahogany Midget from seed very easily. I started mine under lights this past spring.The little bees just love Mahogany Midget. They are all over it in the garden!

  3. Robbie, really gorgeous photos, I love the colours and faces of your Pansies, I haven’t grown historic types before but you inspire me to try. I can see why they make you smile. I have not eaten one either, what do they taste of?

    1. They speak to you too-Julie!:-) It seems today the pansies at the garden centers are just big blobs of color that flop over and have no character:-) These little ones just draw you into them and each one is different. I am dead heading them and hoping to save seed this summer. Chiltern Seed out of Uk has some that I grew out one year and they had the unusual colors.
      check this article from Chiltern Seeds-
      http://www.chilternseeds.co.uk/item_1280w_viola_x_wittrockiana_historic_florist_pansies_mixed_seeds
      I am so happy they are trying to save this mix for it really is special and part of our history:-)
      I have not doubt your photos would be amazing of these little beauties:-)
      They taste pretty good + it is fun decorating your salads with them:-)
      I bet they would be pretty on a cake,too!

  4. I agree with you that pansies are so heart-warming – and smile making! I like the scent of alyssum, though I know some who don’t and I grow it as a ‘filler’ most years. Although you will always find pansies in tubs by my door Robbie I have never eaten them! [Yes, even in winter!] Such a salad as the one in your beautiful photo would have me so busy admiring and wondering about it that it might never make my mouth 🙂 I must add ‘find historic pansies’ to my list of things to do! I’m still so hoping your photos make it to a coffee table book – I would buy it and gift it!! xoxo

    1. awww…that is so kind. I know what you mean, I have a problem cutting their little cheerful faces off to put in a salad, but they do make a great salad. They taste pretty darn good too in a salad. I love the healing benefits for they were made for us to admire and use for healing. I love alyssum this year for it provides for the little bees when nothing else is blooming. Something about pansies and alyssum that make me smile even more:-) If you do find the mix, make sure you save seed. These are ones that were saved from the original pansies our grandparents may of grown. If you look at the ones at the store or at the garden centers , they are boring and have no personality-tee hee-they speak to me!

  5. I have eaten nasturtiums for ages, and I know violets and roses are edible, but how did I miss pansies?? The print on your site is quite dark on this monitor, so maybe I missed something, but is it only the older (historical) varieties that are edible? . . . before I poison myself or something . . . 🙂

  6. Those pansies are some of the best colours I’ve seen for ages. I love the soft, russet tones in so many of the varieties you have growing. It’s interesting to read that they are good for glaucoma. Looking at their faces reminds me of the very ancient belief of associating healing properties of plants with whatever part of the human body they look like….

    1. That is fascinating!I just found out about the glaucoma from the ” Green Pharmacy” book. I grew some other types a few years back and just did not like the colors and the faces were not as cheerful. If you get a chance to grow some save the seed for they are hard to find:-) I am saving seed this year:-)

  7. They’re so friendly! Violas and pansies both just look so cheerful. They’re a winter flower here, and I could stand to grow more of them…who am I kidding? I could stand to grow more of most everything.

    1. 🙂 lol-I read that this mix is one they have tried to create from one 150 years ago-unusual colors, rounded petals.:-) But they do taste the same:-)

  8. I love your pansies they are so pretty. I must admit I had never thought of eating them. I had no idea they were so good for you. You have inspired me, next year I will grow more. Gorgeous photos as usual.

  9. They are so pretty, Robbie! I’d have trouble eating those cute faces, I think. Very interesting about rutin – I take gingko biloba, which apparently has it as well. Your gardens always look so healthy – a beautiful work of art! Lovely post!

  10. I had no idea there was such a thing as historic pansies. I guess these are essentially “heirloom” pansies. Anyway, I love them. The faces look like comic book characters expressing intense anger!

  11. ‘A potager is flowers, herbs and vegetables mixed together to create an attractive edible garden’… so very well put!
    Didn’t realize that pansies can be consumed… now I need to go hunt for some to put on my potager…
    And yes, exquisite images… 🙂

    1. awww-Lrong-so good to hear from you:-)It truly is that simple. I might add that I read we are to select the most attractive to be in our potagers:-) I did plant some snow peas that were purple and very attractive, but tasted horrible. I would add to that definition that they need to taste good too-LOL:-)

  12. Oh, just beautiful Robbie! Are all pansies edible? I have a pot out in the garden of those “living watercolors” and I wouldn’t mind a taste. I bought mine at the nursery, though. I think I’m going to have to try growing some next year! You inspire me so.

  13. I’ve never eaten a pansy but love them mixed with the alyssum. Did you direct sow the alyssum? I need to give that seed combo a try. It’s so pretty. 🙂

    1. I sometimes munch on the ones I am deadheading:-) I love eating my vitamins fresh, but I have to admit it takes a bit to feel comfortable eating flowers. I use them more as the years roll on and since I read “rutin” is useful to our health, I put them in salads all the time. Yes, I direct sowed the alyssum around the pansies. I started the pansies in January + placed them out in the early spring. I trimmed the alyssum back and have been dead heading the pansies to keep them going + plan to save seed from these this year. I look forward to reading + seeing your photos of pansies + alyssum. I agree they look pretty good together. A nice surprise this spring. I plan on mixing them together from now on in the spring:-)

  14. You have made me SO HAPPY! The photos of these gorgeous pansies are STUNNING! And your planting scheme is inspired!
    As always, you create a space for me to explore where I feel totally at home and at peace. Your garden and your ethos melds with the one I share in my own garden.
    But…..I do not grow these fabulous Pansies and am suffering from Historic Pansy ENVY!
    I am hoping that the company you say stocks them might ship them to me. x

    1. They are really lovely + I might add the pansies they sell today can’t even compare. They don’t taste too badly either-lol If you do photograph them or cook with them-do send me the post for I can hardly wait to see what you do with them! You will be having some fun with these “dainty beauties.” You have such an eye. They really are that pretty. I also started dead-heading them this spring-summer and they are holding up in our heat. Years past- I would just let them die back when our weather was getting too humid. I just assumed they were unable to handle our “midwest” heat spells. I saw a you tube video on seed saving pansies. He suggested dead-heading them. Why didn’t I think of that! I have them all summer now.
      I can’t wait to plant them next summer all over the yard now that I know the heat does not hurt them if you just dead-head them. I love the colors for you don’t see them in modern day pansies.
      Can’t you see them on a cake? They are stunners:-)

      1. Ah dead heading….a nightmare of a chore when you are rushing and than a heavenly task when you have time. But, yes, the flowering goes on so much longer when we do it.
        I wish I could put into words why those little flowers make me so happy….but they just do. They seem so, so perfectly to express what I love about gardening and flowers. I just adore them! x

      2. me too! I have some ( seed) in my fridge and freezer to make sure I am never without them + I plan on saving some next year. A year ago, I could not find them any place:-( I only found 3 place, seed savers exchange, baker creek + Chiltern (UK). They make me smile every time I walk by them:-)-in fact, I need to head out right now and dead head them! I want them in my garden for fall:-)

    1. Karen! Have not heard from you in awhile:-) Yep, they do ship to UK, but I found a seed source here too where you live-

      http://www.chilternseeds.co.uk/item_1280w_viola_x_wittrockiana_historic_florist_pansies_mixed_seeds

      I have both types and want to save seed from them next year:-) Need to hop over to your blog and see what you are doing this summer. I can’t wait to see what you do with these flowers in cooking and photos-it will be amazing! I have no doubt:-)

      1. Hi Robbie, I can not thank you enough for sending me the link to Chiltern Seeds. I know I am sad and I should get a life, but….every night I look at the Chiltern Seeds website on my i pad in bed! Oh, those Violas are so, so lovely! I am going to place an order very soon. I am like a child in a sweet shop and I am beside myself with excitement! I have used that company many years ago and forgotten about them and of course ordering from them will save me so much in shipping charges.
        I feel that I have neglected my blog just lately. Like you, other stuff has been going on and time has just disappeared. I have had one open day in my garden which was a lot of work and I am planning more. I like the idea of people visiting and it is nice chatting to other gardeners. But it is a lot of work trying to make everything as close to perfect as is possible.
        Bless you for the Viola link. I am totally in Viola heaven.
        Karen x

      2. Oh-Karen-you are not sad:-) I do the same thing! In fact, I feel my garden is my “art” and the flowers are my medium:-)Before Kids, I was a modern dancer- the flowers in the garden are my dancers:-)for timing in the garden is like choreographing a dance:-)…they all have their moment and each is needed to make a great show!
        I am slowly getting over the “perfect’ thing for sometimes a flower wanders where it wants and oh, something wonderful just happens + I discover “hmmmm” that looks good together! Many years ago, there was a choreographer that used “chance” to create his dances. He use to throw coins and where they fell is where the dancers would start etc…He was quite good + sometimes I love that about the garden. You just find a flower and try it with another and it may wander and show you a new way of looking at your garden:-) I am looking forward to your dancing pansies!

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