Back To The Future

Our weather is being momumentally reluctant to shift into spring.  Yes, I still have snow and ice in my yard.  But  there are a few signs of spring afoot.  Bogie Lake Greenhouse transported me back to the future; the pansy house is bursting with spring color.  They are plenty big enough to go outside, pending some warmer night temperatures.  I do so associate pansies and violas with spring.  I do not mind violets in the lawn.  I like Johnny Jump Ups almost anywhere.  Plants that self sow can be a nuisance, but these plants are charming.  I know of no other flower which is commonly referred to as having a face. This refers to the prominent dark blotch on the petals of some varieties. This house is the closest thing I have to spring right now.  

The clear sky series of pansies have no face, but I treasure them nonetheless.  They also are particularly hardy in my zone.  The tolerate a fall planting over tulips or other spring bulbs, and come back fairly reliably.  This faceless pansy does have a name-primrose.  Perfect. 

Clear sky yellow pansies are plainly visible from a long ways away.  This intense yellow makes it a perfect companion to other colors.  Yellow and primrose and dark purple make for a lively mix.  I like mixes for home plantings-they seem so much more personal.  In contemporary gardens, I like one idea, expressing confidently in a beautiful shape or sweep.  For a mix that reads evenly, use at least 3 colors.

This pansy is a member of a mix; the seed produces a range of colors that are related.  My knowledge of plant breeding is nothing to speak of, but I do understand the concept of selection.  Breeding for a specific characteristic means selecting those plants that most closely resemble the ideal, and breeding on.  I may select certain colors from a mix to further refine an idea or a look.   

Mark kindly allocated some bench space to some spring pots of mine.  The selection of the plant material proved daunting, as nothing was in bloom.  I have firmly resolved to take notes on varieties and combintions I like when the plants are in bloom.  But a good deal of the fun of the planting-besides getting one’s hands in the dirt-is arranging for beautiful color.  However, planting containers with green plants has advantages.  A focus on the contrast of texture, mass and shape can make for spring containers all the more beautiful. 

All of the contrast here is about color.  The plants are all pansies that have the same habit of growth, the same leaves, and the same flower shape. 

There are plenty of plants that tolerate our cool spring.  One of my favorites is phlox intensia-annual phlox.  Pictured here is the white, and the pink bicolor.  There is a lovely lavender variety as well.  It has a lax habit of growth that can be supported by the stiff growth of parsley, angelina, or pansies.  It will still be growing strong later in the summer.  I am thinking I will start planting out this next Monday, April 4.  Bring on the lettuce, the parsley, the fennel, the pansies, violas and osteos-the list is long enough to keep me really busy.  Hopefully there will be every opportunity to do something new, break all the rules, and go out on a limb.  There usually is.

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