Every spring, my neighbor's garden is a bouquet of color while I am still turning the soil in my yard. After admiring her handwork this year for a few days, I went over and asked her what the secret was. "No secret," she told me "just use pansy flowers early in the season."
I guess I made a face because she pointed to the perfectly arranged beds of flowers. I was even more confused, "which ones are the pansies?" Jane could not help but laugh at me. She told me that every "different" flower I saw was actually a pansy – just with different colors.
Once a wild flower, the pansy flower has a history of being professionally cultured stretching back to the 18th century. Jane asked if I would like a tour. As we wandered through her personal oasis, she pointed out each unique pansy. There were some that had dark pencilling lines radiating from the center and those without. There were solid colored flowers, flowers that had two colors and her prized tri-colored pansies. Jane explained that she enjoyed the variety of colors and styles that simply planting pansies in her garden afforded her.
I do not know flowers, but I know what I like. I had to admit these were some cool looking flowers. The name comes from the French word for though, Jane told me. Pansies have five petals almost form a face. Without too much imagination it is easy to see the top most petals as the hair, the petals on the side as big ears with the bottom one creating a chin like shape.
Her garden is so successful because these delicate looking flowers are able to withstand the sudden cold spells that our area often gets during early spring. Jane told me that she starts the plants inside during the second half of April and transports them to the garden around the beginning of May.
I stopped at a planter full of blue pansies to absorb the fragrance they have off. Jane nodded knowingly, and said that that was how she had become enamored with these flowers. It seems that the blue and yellow variety have the strongest scent. The smell was delicious; I could not help but wonder why no perfumer had bottled it yet. I think they would have been printing money if they had.
I think that next year, I am going to follow Jane's example and start my garden with pansy flowers. And I will take her advice about a well-balanced fertilizer to provide nutrients and only water them once a week. It seems almost too easy, but that's what I like about them.