Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Wild Pansy

Last summer I planted a small flower garden along the south side of the house in the 18 inch dirt space between the walk and the house foundation. Cathy Garner was staying with me, and she took over with gusto, planting a variety of beautiful Delphiniums, sunflowers, strawflowers, petunias, and geraniums. Under her dutiful administrations, the flowers flourished. Mid-summer I noticed a small pansy growing in a crack in the walkway between the shop and the house. It was a tiny crack, not large enough to nourish a beautiful flower. It bloomed a deep blue, with one or two tiny blossoms. As September came, the rest of the flowers lost their bloom, but the little wild pansy continued to flourish, in spite of being in the center of the footstep, the increasing cool weather, and the loss of daylight. Finally the freezing weather came, but the little flowers continued to blossom during the warm sunny mornings. I would venture out every morning to see if they had disappeared, but to my surprise more flowers appeared. Finally into cold October, the snow began to fall, and in the morning the temperature would be 20 degrees, the snow would be frozen to the blossoms, and I was sure the plant was dead. But, by noon, the flowers would have opened up, facing the sun. This crazy behavior lasted way into late October, before ice and snow finally covered the plants.

My only explanation is that the crack and the large mass of the cement sidewalk block would hold the heat of the day and keep the ground warm for the plant, so that even if the upper blossoms and leaves would freeze, the roots kept the plant alive and gave it nourishment during the morning hours.

Well, this summer the plant is back with a vengence. (Bottom photo) It has filled the crack, and small plants are spreading in the grass south of the crack. We'll see if it supplants the lawn, (We can always hope!)


sbt said...

Neat Ralph! We have some of these little guys sprouting up in our lawn and I've taken to just mowing right over them (I transplanted a couple at first) because they are so tough and just keep coming back! I love the dark purple blooms.

Cathy said...

I am glad to see those happy faces again in your sidewalk crack, Ralph. Without a doubt they will start looking at you from other corners of your yard soon.