Horticulture was an important industry in nineteenth century Needham. Many commercial flower growers produced flowers for sale in Boston. One of the best-known growers was Denys Zirngiebel, a Swiss immigrant, whose award-winning pansies graced the White House in Washington. As the town developed, the growers moved on, but the pansy tradition remains. The pansy is the town flower of Needham, and April is officially recognized as Pansy Month.
Pansies are cool season, hardy annuals; perfect for adding spring color to containers and gardens. They are usually planted in early spring and will often last until Independence Day. The do best in sun, at least half a day. Deadheading (removing spent flower stems) and regular watering will help extend the blooming season.
Zirngiebel’s pansies were giants with blooms up to four inches across. Though beautiful, the big flowers didn’t last long or stand up to adverse weather. The trend today is for compact plants producing a profusion of smaller, more durable flowers in an incredibly wide range of colors and patterns. Hillcrest Gardens stocks up with dozens of varieties and mixes when we open in April. Come early in the month for the best selection.
One of our favorites is “Monet Mix” with colors that really do look like something out of an impressionist painting.