Our first shipment of pansies last week rekindled my love for them. And my hatred of them.
It was especially trying because it was so unbelievably hot. Never in my five years at Moore & Moore and decades in my own garden have I associated sweating with pansies. And, despite what my grandmother said, I don’t glimmer. I don’t perspire. I sweat. Bullets. Big beads dripped unabashedly off my nose, since my hands, full of pansy flats, were unable to wipe them away.
As I continued to stock pansies—and sweat—I also thought about how pansies can be an open invitation to rabbits—an all-you-can-eat buffet, so to speak. I remembered the first time I planted these cheerful little winter warriors, so happy that I’d have color even in the coldest months. The next morning when I walked outside to admire them some more, I discovered they’d been decapitated. Nothing but naked stems sticking up where beauty had been only hours before.
“Rabbits,” my neighbor said knowingly, slurping her coffee. Then she told me about the miracle of bone meal, which not only feeds the hungry pansies, but deters the hungry rabbits and deer. And it’s organic. And, best of all, it works! Now, I wouldn’t think of planting pansies—not to mention Impatiens, Hostas, or tomatoes—without a good dose of bone meal.
Finally, I thought about how pansies signal the coming of cold, dark, rainy weather. I am not a winter person. I don’t like snow, temps below 65, or sweater weather. I don’t like how I can feel my behind widen as I sit idly inside, antsy to get out in the garden but unwilling to risk hypothermia. So all in all, you could say that I had a real hate-on for pansies when they arrived last week.
But then I saw their cheerful, colorful faces, and I fell back in love. I thought about the comfort they provide on the bleakest winter days–how brightly they glow, as if in defiance of the gray that can descend on Nashville for weeks at a time.
One whiff, and I remembered how their lovely fragrance sweetens bitter winter winds. And how, like the rabbits, I find them delicious as well. They are simply stunning in salads and pasta, and they take goat cheese, pastries, and baked goods to a whole ‘nother level.
I thought about how grateful I am to pansies. While the rest of my garden sleeps, not needing my attention, pansies inspire me to bundle up, brave the weather, and get in the garden. Unlike some people, I enjoy pinching them. In fact, I enjoy most gardening “chores,” as it really lifts my mood. When the blooms slow, I feed these hungry lovelies as much bone meal as they can eat. I make sure they’re not buried under leaves, so they can get what little sun Mother Nature shines on us here on the eastern edge of the Central Time Zone in winter.
Then I saw the new-to-me mix, Wine and Cheese. I love that name on so many levels, and the combination of hot and cool colors does not disappoint. They’d be gorgeous planted with ‘Redbor’ Ornamental Kale, ‘Bright Lights’ Swiss Chard, and ‘Red Rooster’ Carex buchananii.
In the end, love conquered hatred. I bought four flats.