Friday, October 23, 2015

A Story Walk

While walking Lucy the other day my mind drifted to my to do list waiting for me at home, so I picked up the pace only to have Lucy slow down, stop and back out of her collar.  Hump!  When I turned to replace her collar, I noticed the two women planting pansies in the nearby garden.  Their energy, at fire engine speed, fascinated me.  My list floated away and I became mesmerized with their technique and skills.

One lady was using a broom and sweeping out the fallen acorns, limbs, and leaves.  Hah! good idea I
thought then I won't tear up our mulch.  The other lady was planting pansies, two by two, with tenderness, nimble fingers, and focus.  Curiously, I stepped closer and spoke, "Excuse me, You seem to be planting two pansies together at a time.  Are you in a hurry or is there reason?"  Jack and I had just planted a flat of pansies the day before in our front yard, and still had another flat to plant in the back yard, rains were forecasted so I understood urgency. 

Like halting a horse in the middle of the race, the lady, Pamela, sat upright, took a breath then smiled at the pansies in her hand, "No, I'm planting pansies together so they will grow better and stay healthy. They like companionship."  Then her fingers began to touch the leaves and petals like she was gently caressing them.  

"I've never heard of that," I responded, but I did recall several pieces of folklore about the pansy. One story said to pluck one of the upper petals and your lover's future can be foretold. Another legend says the pansy was originally white, but turned bright purple where it had been pierced by Cupid's arrow. It was also called 'hearts ease' for people believed that carrying the flower or giving a bouquet of pansies would ensure the love of your sweetheart. 

"Oh, yes," she continued, "pansies love tenderness and partnership.  They should always be planted with a partner, so the two can complement each other's growth." In the ensuing minutes we talked about flowers, health, and healing.  "Did you know that plants grow better with music in the background, or for that matter if you talk to them."  I confessed to talking to trees, but never thought to chat with my plants.  Then her hands returned to the soil. My mind was whirling with ideas and questions.

Now, as I walked home, I noticed that many homes had planted pansies, but not two by two.  With industry and focus I went straight to the backyard and planted the remainder of my pansies, two by two.  Of course, it took another trip to the nursery to buy more to fill in the area.  Now I will watch
curiously as the flowers grow, to see if it makes a difference. To be honest it already has made a difference because I paired the pansies by various colors, and they truly complement each other.  

With my curiosity still peaked I remembered the novel I read last spring The Language of Flowers and how the young girl communicated through the meaning of the flowers she used in bouquets. The book's website offers a list of flowers and their meaning, <>

I did discover that music may indeed help flowers grow as long as it is easy listening or Beethoven and not hard rock and roll.  Some research suggests that the seeds sprout more quickly with 15-20 minutes of music a day.  Other researchers think external stimuli, like wind will induce changes in their growth. If it's wind they need then my pansies are in the right zone for that.  

My favorite piece of lore that I found said that the pansy was once called the Cinderella flower.  

The Language of Flowers did not mention the little pansy, but other sources kept my attention for hours. It is a fact that the word pansy actually comes from the French word pensee, meaning "remembrance" or "thought".  If you give a bouquet of pansies to someone you are saying, "I'm thinking of you."
Perhaps, that also means when I rush up my sidewalk this winter and am greeted by the pansies I will remember to think of someone else, or better yet, it will slow me down and give me the grace to live in the present. I hope this little flower that survives the bitter winters will inspire each of you to "think of someone special."  

Dedicated to my friend of many decades, who loves pansies.  I'm thinking of you, Julia Johnson Wood. 

A great website for the care and feeding of pansies is <> 


  1. I loved finding out that pansies need companionship. I hope your grow doubly well!

    1. Thanks Michelle. It probably still comes down to water and nutritional soil, but somehow the idea of companionship just meant more to gardening and the beauty of flowers.

  2. Just like us humans, we prefer to have a companion to share our life with. Great story ru

  3. What a lovely thought--that pansies grow best with companions. I will think of this next spring and perhaps plant a few more together in my own garden.

    1. Good luck. You just never know what you might learn while walking the neighborhood.
      Luckily, we can grow pansies down here in Oklahoma fall through spring, and if I work at dead heading and nourishing them, then I might have them all hot summer long.

  4. Letty, this is a delightful (AND useful) post! Haven't planted pansies in years but may put some in - in pairs - after reading this.