Ready, steady – plant! The annual race is now on to see who in the village will be the first to pot their pansies and put them out on the porch.
Every year, it’s the same: As soon as mid-March arrives, so do the pansies: loads of them. The shops, garages, DIY stores and markets all have racks of these uninspiring little plants jostling for our attention.
Pansies had never, until I moved to Sweden, entered my world; I knew they existed, but that’s as far it went. Pansies over here, though, seem to have taken on a bit of a minor celebrity status and you’d be hard pushed to find a garden without them. You’ll find them growing in window boxes, pots, planters, old wheelbarrows and hanging baskets. And really any other ingenious container that the ingenious Swede can think of. This year the knack is, apparently, to colour co-ordinate pansy and pot; and colour co-ordinate pot and porch.
From a purely practical perspective, I can see their appeal; small, tough plants, pansies are hardy enough to survive the few minus degrees and any light touch of frost that an early Swedish spring might throw at them. So if you do buy some, they’re almost guaranteed to survive.
But what I really don’t share is this zealous pansy-purchasing, and the need to demonstrate every year that Spring has most definitely arrived on my porch – way before any of my neighbours’.
The pansy derives its name from the French word pensée which means thought (in Sweden pansies are called penseér). And it is said that the plant represents ‘free thought’ as its flowers are reminiscent of small faces bobbing in agreement. If that’s the case, I guess that I’d better join the scramble to pot up, put out my pansies and pave the path to spring – after all I am also a free-thinker!?
Note to Selfie: Time to dig out my gardening gloves ….