Heartsease (Violas):
“I pray, what flowers are these? The pansy this, O, that’s for lover’s thoughts.”
~George Chapman Quotes
Heart’s ease! one could look for half a day Upon this flower, and shape in fancy out Full twenty different tales of love and sorrow, That gave this gentle name.”
~Mary Howitt Quotes
“Who are the violets now
That strew the lap of the new-come spring?” ~Shakespeare: Richard II
“Look at us, said the violets blooming at her feet, all last winter we slept in the seeming death but at the right time God awakened us, and here we are to comfort you. “  ~Edward Payson Rod
The modern day pansies are descendants of the wild viola tricolor also called heartsease. There are many nicknames for this plant that include: love-in-idleness, call-me-to-you, three-faces-under-a-hood, godfathers and godmothers, flower o’luce, banwort, jack-jump-up-and-kiss-me. We have always called the smaller violas johnny-jump-ups.
Violas, violets, and pansies are my absolute all time favorite flowers.  Though admittedly, I have many favorites.  I often start violas and pansies from seed because I can get more varieties this way, but I also purchase the plants.  I prefer the miniature violas to the larger pansies but love both.  To my delight many of the smaller varieties self-seed freely.  I’m not surprised they have been used in love potions. An old belief is that if the flowers were placed on the closed eyelids of a sleeping person they would fall in love with the first person they saw upon awakening.
VIOLA ODORATA is an ancient heirloom, which the Greeks used in love potions, and beloved by our grandmothers and their grandmothers because of its sweet perfume, delicate purple to deep bluish purple flower and heart-shaped leaves.” Quote from an interesting looking site that sells heirloom violet seeds called Cherry Gal:
I always thought the flower in the crannied wall referred to in the famous poem by Tennyson was probably a violet or some member of the viola family.
Flower in the crannied wallI pluck you out of the crannies,
I hold you here, root and all, in my hand,
Little flower -but if I could understand
What you are, root and all, and all in all,
I should know what God and man is.” ~ by Lord Alfred Tennyson
This is interesting regarding Napoleon Bonaparte and violets: 
Napoleon Bonaparte loved violets. When he married Josephine, she wore violets and on each anniversary Napolean sent her a violet bouquet. Josephine maintained an extensive garden of violets which became the rage in France. In 1814, Napoleon asked to visit Josephine’s tomb, before being exiled to the Island of St. Helena. There he picked the violets that were found in a locket around his neck after he died. The French thus chose the violet as their emblem, and Napoleon was nicknamed ~Corporal Violet~ or ~Le Pere Violet~ meaning ~the little flower that returns with spring.~
In modern times, a story has grown up around Napoleon Bonaparte and the violet.  While in exile on the island of Elba, he supposedly confided to his friends that he would return to France with the appearance of the violets in the spring.  (Such flowers may have had a special significance for the deposed Emperor, since he had once used them as an amorous emblem of his love for Josephine.)  His partisans rallied around the symbol of his triumphant return and secretly referred to him as Corporal violet.  To determine a loyal supporter, the question was asked of a stranger: –Do you like violets?  If the reply to the query was Yes (Oui) or No (Non), it revealed one who did not know of the plot.  If the answer was –‘Eh bien,’ the loyalty of the person to the case was affirmed.
Magical Attributes: “Violets are affiliated with the planet Venus OR Pluto and are associated with the nymphs of ancient Greek myth as, in the Odyssey Homer says that Ogygia is “beautiful land of parsley and violets.” Violets are also associated with death and rebirth through the story of Attis.
Violets are useful in love spells and may be carried as an amuleti to increase one’s luck in love. Try combining them with lavender for enhanced effect. Also useful in spells for protection, wishes, peace and healing. In the language of flowers, violets represent faithfulness.”
“They are all in the lily-bed, cuddled close together– Purple, Yellow-cap, and little Baby-blue; How they ever got there you must ask the April weather, The morning and the evening winds, the sunshine and the dew.” ~Ellen Mackay Hutchinson Cortissoz
“The beauteous pansies rise In purple, gold, and blue, With tints of rainbow hue Mocking the sunset skies.”  ~Thomas John Ouseley Quotes
The beloved English poet William Wordsworth had a lovely garden at Dove Cottage still preserved today where many old fashioned herbs and flowers grow, among them violas.
“The garden has always been a mixture of planned plantings and the happy accidents all gardeners enjoy. Today Dove Cottage Garden is a semi-wild garden planted naturally in the spirit of Wordsworth with native and cottage garden plants. Honeysuckles entwine Rosa Rugosa and climb the cottage walls. Ferns and ivy grow among rocks and in the crevices of the terrace wall. Native English primrose (primula vulgaris) root in tree stumps; the old well is surrounded by Osmundine fern and Helleborus orientalis. Native daffodils, bluebells, mosses and other plants referred to by the Wordsworth family in letters and journals….”
“Heart’s ease of pansy, pleasure or thought, Which would the picture give us of these? Surely the heart that conceived it sought Heart’s ease.” ~ Algernon Charles Swinburne


  1. Mona Risk // January 14, 2012 at 10:32 AM  

    What a lovely post and pretty pictures. As children we used to keep dried pansies between the pages of books.

  2. Bianca Swan // January 14, 2012 at 12:07 PM  

    I love pansies. Beth, your post was simply beautiful, very interesting and informative.

  3. Patrice // January 14, 2012 at 2:40 PM  

    Beautiful, Beth,
    The info with the pictures was a nice touch.

  4. Pamela Varnado // January 14, 2012 at 2:44 PM  

    What a great post. And it smells wonderful also. :) My son-in-law gave my daughter a dozen roses last year. I dried them out and plan to frame some of them to hang on the wall.

  5. Mary Ricksen // January 14, 2012 at 2:55 PM  

    My favorite flower is the Lilac. But the first plant I ever put in the ground was a pansy!
    Wonderful photos Beth!

  6. Beth Trissel // January 14, 2012 at 5:00 PM  

    Thanks guys. I love doing these sorts of posts.

  7. Barbara Monajem // January 14, 2012 at 7:52 PM  

    Your love of flowers really shows, Beth. :)

  8. Autumn Jordon // January 14, 2012 at 10:13 PM  

    Okay, now I'm ready for spring. My favorite flowers, which really aren't flowers flowers but a shrubs are lilacs, but I love violets. Johnnie-jump-ups dot my flower beds.

    I always enjoy you posts, Beth and learn so much. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Beth Trissel // January 15, 2012 at 12:18 AM  

    Thanks, and yes, I love flowers. My allergist said I love spring more than anyone he knows who is so allergic to it. :)

  10. Beth Trissel // January 15, 2012 at 12:18 AM  

    Thanks, and yes, I love flowers. My allergist said I love spring more than anyone he knows who is so allergic to it. :)

  11. Mary Marvella // January 15, 2012 at 12:55 AM  

    Awesome! I do love pansies! I love your blog, too. You are really good at this!

  12. gmapat // January 16, 2012 at 8:56 AM  

    Lovely, Beth.

  13. Josie // January 19, 2012 at 12:43 PM  

    What an interesting and informative post. Pansies are a gorgeous flower. We use them all winter in planters here in SC. These flowers add amazing color and are much hardier than they look.