24 Apr 2011


'And there is pansies, that’s for thoughts.'
William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Prince of Denmark

The word ‘pansy’ is derived from the French, ‘pensée’, which means ‘thought’, and among the various meanings of the pansy, thoughtful reflection or romantic thoughts are some of the most popular. They can also be given to tell someone you are thinking of them. 

Pansies are also a symbol of free thoughts and can be worn to show you are a critical thinker unbounded by religions or other dogmas. Pansy petals are reminiscent of a heart, which have long led people to believe it to have magical powers in the weaving of love spells—they were considered an essential ingredient in love potions and were believed to cure broken hearts (another name for pansies is ‘heart’s ease’). 

In Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, it is none other than a pansy that the fairy Puck gets his havoc causing love potion. Its distinctive shape also links it firmly with St Valentine’s Day, a day upon which it is traditional for lovers to exchange gifts of pansies. Pansies were particularly fashionable in Victorian times, and were used as a token of that highly regarded Victorian virtue: modesty. On a couple’s very first wedding anniversary, pansies are an eloquent means of sending congratulations flowers.  

*     Cure for a broken heart
*     Free thoughts
*     Modest
*     Romantic thoughts
*     Thoughtful reflection
*     ‘Happy 1st anniversary!’
*     ‘Think of you.’

Origin: While the pansy’s ancestors lived in continental Europe, the pansies we know today were cultivated by an English lord in the 1800s.
Season: Pansies bloom in the early spring, but because they winter well, some gardeners plant them to bloom in autumn.
Colour: Pansies are grown in colours ranging from deep red, violet and blue-black, to white, pink and tawny gold.

Author: Alethea Dean

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