I love them, too, but 2 things always get to me: one, the fact that they don’t winter over so well, and two, the cost of the seed–yikes! The one year I grew them, I think I did the Imperial Antique hybrid–in a single color, I think–and the Watercolor mix. They were beautiful, and for a year or two they sort of self-sowed, but eventually died out. My son planted the Icicle series of pansies last fall at the hospital where he works, and they came through the winter all right. But the hospital is at least one zone warmer than we are. Have you ever tried the Icicle series? In the January 2002 issue of Fine Gardening, Cynthia M. Rabinowitz states that they were bred for cold climates by a Canadian grower, Fernlea Flowers. According to her, if they are planted in the fall, they are guaranteed to bloom in the spring.
Now, the digging and dividing of perennials, the general autumn cleanup and the planting of spring bulbs are all an act of faith. One carries on before the altar of delayed gratification, until the ground freezes and you can’t do any more other than refill the bird feeder and gaze through the window, waiting for the snow. . . . Meanwhile, it helps to think of yourself as a pear tree or a tulip. You will blossom spectacularly in the spring, but only after the required period of chilling.
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