Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Pansy Power

Do you love pansies?
I certainly do
and fall is the perfect time in our neck of the woods
to enhance your landscape with these little gems.
Further north, planting pansies (also known as violas), is a springtime ritual,
but here in the lower half of the country,
we can enjoy them during the cooler part of the year.
While July and August are the perfect time to begin sowing,
our climate does not lend itself well to successful germination at that time.
Our summers seem to get more and more humid,
and these sweet things just won't put up with that.
Their preferred temperature for germination is 68 degrees.
That's not gonna happen here.
Planting seeds in late winter might give me a jump 
on some spring and early summer bloomers.

 For the life of me,
I couldn't get my hands on any Johnny-Jump Up seeds,
and it finally occurred to me that I could just pick up some starts.
Being so used to trying to provide everything myself,
it completely thrilled me when I saw these cuties at the store.
Lightbulb moment...
Preferring well-drained soil,
I knew that containers would be the perfect option for them,
so I gathered a few pots and got to work.

The contrast here of the purple and bright yellow is captivating,
and the rustic feel of the terracotta container just adds to the charm.
In hues that range from blue, purple and pink
to yellow, orange and red,
pansies are a welcome pop of color in the garden.
 (The mums were only a buck apiece, 
so I picked up a few of those too.)

Caring for pansies couldn't be easier.
They adore full sun, especially since the air temperature is moderate,
they can take the intensity.
The beauty of having them around in fall and winter
is that you needn't worry about frosts,
they will survive even some freezes
and bounce right back.
Keeping them insulated by growing them near other plants
will likely help them to do well in the winter months.
 Of course, mulch is always a good option.

 Pansies need a little room to spread out,
so planting them at least 5" apart is a good idea.
They are low growers, and will not get much larger than 9 inches tall.
Borders are an ideal place for them, 
or they can be a cheery addition to a rock garden.
Another bonus with pansies is that they are butterfly magnets!

 Placing some near the front door
will remind me to keep them well watered.
As with anything placed in a container,
care must be taken to keep them moist
as they tend to dry out quicker than when planted in the soil.
In a few weeks, I'll nurture them with a bit of compost tea,
and see how they like it.
These blooms should take us through until spring.
What a treat!
Although I probably won't indulge,
pansies are edible flowers
and can be added to salads and baked goods.

The historical background of pansies was fascinating to discover.

"In Victorian England, the pansy flower was used for secret courting.  Any display of love or passion was severely frowned upon and in order to communicate to potential romantic partners the  pansy was employed.  It was placed in what was called a tussie mussie which was a bunch of herbs wrapped in a doily with some flowers in the middle.  The pansy flower was used to convey not easily expressed in Victorian England such as I’m feeling amorous towards you, I am thinking of you or I have thoughts of you or I’m missing you, but always it was about one person thinking of another."

Without Victorian constraints,
we can openly rejoice in the wonder that is this garden jewel.
I think I may need to find a few more pots... 

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