We woke up this morning to a wintry day on this first full day of Spring. A gusty, whipping wind made an already cold 36°F feel even colder — certainly not the ideal day in the garden. So it’s not surprising that my wife, as I put on three layers of long sleeve shirts to complement an old pair of garden jeans, said, “Don’t you want to wait until tomorrow?”
I’m not sure if my wife’s comment was more suggestion than question, but I had one goal in the garden today. Plant the pansies. I made a trip on Friday to a local garden center (Prairie Gardens in Champaign, Illinois) to pick out a couple of flats of pansies (Viola x wittrockiana), and was determined to have them in containers on this first weekend of Spring.
The pansies — grown by Bert R. Hybels, Inc. in Kalamazoo, Michigan — were sold in four packs for $1.49/pack. The price seemed higher than I remembered, but in my Zone 5 garden, they are one of the few annuals that is safe to put out in the garden in March. So I paid the $36 for the pansies and headed home to plant. I ran out of time due to garden cleanup on Friday, and Saturday was full of friend and family commitments. If I was to get the pansies planted this weekend, all that was left was this day that remained in the grips of old man winter.
Bundled in my three layers, duck cloth jacket, winter hat, and landscapers’ gloves, I started on the first of the six containers I’d fill with pansies until the weather turned warm enough for our full summer palette of container plants. Two of the containers are self-watering window boxes that we use as deck-rail planters. Another three containers are medium-sized painted pots that set next to our ‘Fat Albert’ Spruce in the front border. Finally, I used the remaining pansies to fill a half-barrel planter under the Littleleaf Linden in the back garage border.
Of this year’s pansies, my favorite is the small, bright-orange flower of the Citrus Mix and the larger, almost blue face of the traditional Purple with Blotch variety.
These pansies won’t last a long time in our garden. As the summer heat starts to rise, their flowering will fall off and foliage will get leggy. About this time, I’ll remove the pansies from our containers and they won’t show their splotched and whiskered faces until the cooler temperatures of autumn arrive.
With the short-lived spring of the pansies in mind, I had only one resounding answer when my wife asked me if I wanted to wait until tomorrow. Ten frozen finger tips and one runny nose later, our pansies are planted. Maybe, just maybe, they will help encourage Mother Nature to put old man winter back in the closet for the next several months until his time comes again.