Not only because I think he resembles an impudent rascally adorable little boy — but because that’s actually his name!
I can hear you thinking, What is she talking about? That’s a pansy!
Well, yes and no.
Johnny Jump-ups are in the same family as pansies, the Viola family. But they’re wilder, smaller, are exceedingly hardy and they sprout up quickly, hence their name, Jump-ups. I never planted the Johnny Jump-ups that flourish in spring in my front garden. They were just there, and from time to time, more volunteers join them:
This is a whole bunch of the kids. They’re bright and brash and bring a smile to my face whatever mood I was in before I saw them. Cute little kids, shining in the grass. Boys just wanna have fun!
(Johnny Jump-ups, Viola tricolor, have also been called by other names, like heart’s ease, heart’s delight, tickle-my-fancy, Jack-jump-up-and-kiss-me, come-and-cuddle-me, three faces in a hood, or love-in-idleness. In past times they were used in herbal medicine for epilepsy, asthma, skin diseases and eczema. V. tricolor has a folk history of helping respiratory problems such as bronchitis, asthma, and cold symptoms. Its expectorant properties prompted its use in the treatment of chest complaints such as bronchitis and whooping cough, and as a diuretic, it has been used in treating rheumatism and cystitis.)
Compared to the wildly flourishing Johnny Jump-ups, the cultivated garden pansy is a whole ‘nother matter.
Altogether larger, more imposing and stately, its face rewards pondering, responding to. Which may reflect the origins of its name, from the French verb penser, to think, with its accompanying noun, pensées, thoughts. “There’s pansies, that’s for thoughts,” says tragic Ophelia in her madness (in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, where, we might argue, she is the victim of Hamlet’s over-thinking).
There’s nothing mad about these pansy faces, however:
Calm beauties, each of them.