by Melinda Myers
Pansies have long been a fall and winter garden favorite. These cheery flowers are sure to brighten landscapes and containers and add a smile to any occasion. Look for fun and new ways to add them to your garden and fall celebrations.
You will find these cool weather favorites at your local garden center. Pansies thrive in the cooler temperatures of fall and during mild winters when your summer annuals fade or succumb to frost. They make great fillers in garden beds and containers or displayed in their own planter.
Cool Wave®, WonderFall and other trailing pansies are perfect for hanging baskets, as trailers in container gardens, or as edging plants in garden beds. You will need half as many of these pansy varieties to cover the same garden space.
Plant a basket of white trailing pansies, add some sunglasses and you have a ghost for Halloween. Scoop out the inside of a pumpkin, add some drainage holes and use it for a planter. Fill it with potting mix and you’ll have a biodegradable pot for the compost pile when finished. Or simply set a container of pansies inside your pumpkin pot.
Be sure to include a few favorite colors, fragrant varieties, and some All-America Selections winners. Ultima Morpho was the 2002 winner that was selected for its distinct blue and yellow flower design. Padparadja is a true orange pansy that is perfect for fall and Majestic Giants pansy, selected in 1966, can still be found for sale. Generations of gardeners have planted this large-flowered, traditional-faced pansy.
Include pansies in your fall meals and gatherings. Only use pansies and other edible flowers that have not been treated with pesticides. Be sure to let your guests know that the pansies are safe to eat, so they can enjoy this unique dining experience. Otherwise, you will find blossoms at the bottom of glasses or left on plates.
Pick a few flowers, remove the reproductive parts, and freeze them in ice cube trays to serve in your favorite beverage. Float a few of the flower ice cubes in your favorite punch.
Add a gourmet touch, some unique flavor, and color to your salads by topping a bed of greens with a few flowers. Continue the theme by decorating cookies or cakes with a few of your favorite pansies. The cheerful flowers will generate happy thoughts and for some, a way to enjoy the last of this season’s garden.
Brighten the start of school and your classroom while showing your favorite teacher a bit of appreciation. A do-it-yourself planter filled with cheery pansies is sure to elevate the mood of both students and teachers alike.
All you need are two yardsticks, a 4” x 4” wooden planter box, and a potted pansy and saucer that fit inside the planter box. Gather your glue gun and glue sticks, sandpaper, and a hobby knife to create your gift.
Cut the yardsticks into four-inch pieces and sand the cut edges smooth. Glue the yardstick pieces vertically and next to each other onto all four sides of the planter. Set the saucer in the bottom of the planter box and place the potted pansy on top of it.
Purchase plenty of pansies. You are sure to find other creative ways to utilize them this fall or simply use them as colorful fillers for voids in gardens and containers.
Melinda Myers has written more than 20 gardening books, including the recently released Midwest Gardener’s Handbook, 2nd Edition and Small Space Gardening. She hosts The Great Courses “How to Grow Anything” instant video and DVD series and the nationally syndicated Melinda’s Garden Moment TV & radio program. Myers is a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine and her website is www.MelindaMyers.com.