Last year we were staring at an awful lot of exposed soil while the plants in the new bed were filling in slowly. To liven up the space we stuck almost a hundred little pansies into the ground.
Pansies are fairly short-lived annuals for us, especially as the weather heats up. After a couple of freakish heat waves in early spring, with temperatures up to 98 one day, the plants looked like hell, and so I pulled most of them. By that point they’d had a chance to set seed and drop some into the garden.
For the last several weeks, there’ve been little pansy seedlings coming up all over. Here’s the first one of them to bloom.
This plant came up in an area that had only been planted with small-flowered pure white pansies. But with lavender swooshing on the two upper petals it clearly shows characteristics of some of the pansies that were planted nearby. Some pollinator probably visited one of the other pansies before stopping by the all-white one that set the seed. Who’s the father? The big white pansies with the purple faces? The dark blue-purple variety with the almost-black mask? I have no idea.
Since I’m no expert on pansy genetics, I suppose there’s even the possibility that white hybrid pansies don’t come true to seed. But I bet on the hybridization scenario.
This little seedling didn’t come up in an ideal location, but I’ll definitely keep it. Pretty and delicate, it looks nothing like what you find in the seed catalogs.
I was at the day job, prepping for a meeting, when John IMs me from home.
Do you want me to plant the pansies?
Innocent enough question, eh? The day before I’d bought 4 sixpacks of them, little white vanilla numbers that I thought would be good temporary fill at the front of the new planting bed until I could decide what else to plant and until what I’d planted could begin to fill in. They’d been sitting in the sun and getting them in the ground would have been a good thing. So I said sure, go ahead.
When I got home they were in the ground, not exactly where I’d envisioned them, but attractive. John said something about how 4 sixpacks didn’t go very far in the big new bed and how he’d always wanted to do one of those color-zone plantings. Big swaths of one color next to big swaths of another. Something big, splashy and commercial. I groaned a noise that to him must have sounded like agreement.
The next day I get another IM at work. He’s bought more. Lots more. He’d forgotten how many plants he’d put in the previous day, so he got a quantity that he thought was how much he’d already put in. Instead it ended up being 12 more sixpacks. That goes a lot further than just 24 plants!
So there’s the bed full of the original plain white pansies, new dark maroon-purple ones, and another area of new white ones with purple faces. Pansies can be okay fillers up close, but spread throughout a garden uniformly between larger plants they begin to look like……….well, ever been to the landfill on a windy day? Little paper scraps blowing everywhere? Yeah, that was my first impression.
Note to myself: Breath. Let go. Stop feeling like you need to make all the aesthetic decisions. Give it time. They may look perfectly fine when they grow up in a couple months.
A garden is always a collaboration, whether it’s just you and the plants or there are others involved.