Skip to content

Old-fashioned flowers in spring salads best way to say good-bye to winter….


Historic mix pansies have delicate faces that just smile as they dance through the salad garden early spring

We live in a changing world and wouldn’t it be nice to slow it down a bit? I was discussing with someone the other day my old “dumb” (flip) phone. I loved my flip phone because it could fit in my bike shorts pocket when I rode on the river. I never needed a special bag to put on my bike to carry my smartphone. Darn, I miss that old, dumb phone.

I thought the other day; I would still have that “old” flip phone if I did not need to keep in contact with my daughter that lives in Sweden. She reaches me on my Skype app which means I need my smartphone. A few years ago, I made the change. Because I needed to.

Technology changes so rapidly in our world today. You can hold out for a bit, but eventually, you have to give in if your old “things” are not up to the job. However, in the world of plants things can stay the same for years and years and it is the old-fashioned plants that bring the best to us and nature. My historic pansies mix are the ones that bring a smile to my face every time I pass them in the garden. They lift my spirits when I see their faces mingling through my garden beds.

I know there are new fancy pansies with amazing colors, waves and even vining ones which I have tried in our Urban Potager. They just don’t have that pure beauty that captures my attention. Sometimes old is better, and no matter how much you try to make it better it just is not going to happen. Somethings are just best left alone, don’t you think?


I have been growing old-fashioned pansies for about 7 yrs. I start them inside during the early part of January. I was low on seed this year since I never did get a chance to save some seed from my Urban Potager last year. I went online to my usual source to get a mix, and the company no longer carried this flower. I found some old seed I had stored in my freezer downstairs for situations like this, so I grabbed them and started them right after New Years Day.  I went online the other day and found only one source for this delightful old-fashioned pansy mix of those that seedsman Kees Sahin put together to resemble those grown 150 years ago.

I practice Bio-intensive/French intensive which means I garden rather close in our garden beds and some things just disappear between seasonal plantings. I usually place my old-fashioned pansies in the garden early spring with other cold season vegetable crops. I love putting flowers in my spring salads. It has become a tradition around our Urban Potager to share spring salads with family, friends, and neighbors when we have them over for dinner.

Since our new construction or tear down of our front garden beds, I have been thinking about putting a herb garden in my area outside the front door. I figure that is a sheltered area which often times, they claim, pansies will return. I will give it a go this year since I am worried that I won’t be able to get these little beauties next year.

I did find them at Seed Savers Exchange which is located up in Deborah, Iowa about 4 hours away from where we live. I figure I better save some seed this late summer, just in case someone else forgets to save the seed. They have the most unusual colors and old-fashioned faces on their petals. They make me smile.

I have often written about historic panises over the years, but this year I am going to teach you how to start them yourselves. This is the approach I have found works for me, but I do not claim to be an expert on growing pansy from seed.I start mine in the dark. Yep, it is the only approach I have used over the years to get excellent germination results. I seed them in sterile, organic coir. I cover them with a blanket or light cloth to keep them in the dark, using a sprayer to moisten the soil as they germinate. Once about a quarter to half is spouting, I  place them under the growing lights.I wait for them to develop their first set of true leaves. Not all of the seeds germinate at once, but I find the goal is just to get a good number of them germinating. I then place the tray back under the lights. Once the tray is filled with many small seedlings, I scoop them out of the tray gently and place them in a  50 count cell tray with seed starting mix. I have found this the best way to start pansies and it saves a lot of money when you grow your own from seed.

They tolerate frigid temps compared to other flowers. This makes them ideal for spring color in your planters and garden beds when there is not much color in the Urban Potager. I suggest we all start saving seed from this old-fashioned panises that  Kees Sahin saved years ago. The great seedsman passed away in 2006, and the company he started was sold. If you live in Europe, the only company I found that sells his old seed was at Chiltern Seeds which they called historic florist pansy mix. You can find it (here) if you are unable to get it from a  USA company. I hope you give these panises a try in your garden this year and if you do, don’t forget to sprinkle some on your salads. They make the most beautiful salad you will ever eat!



25 replies »

  1. Thanks for saving this heritage pansy, Robbie. We need lots of gardeners like you. ❤ I love imagining you patiently tending these little, tiny babies. 🙂

  2. Pansy’s are my favorite but I have never eaten them. I too liked my old flip phone that was small enough to fit in my pocket. But the new smart phone has GPS and gets me where I need to go. I can’t see street signs.:( My son keeps making me go bigger so I can see the screen but the darn phone won’t stay in my pocket so I set it down and can’t remember where I put it. I keep the house phone so I can ring myself. 🙂 Feels a little silly. I love your garden.

    • keeping the house phone to ring yourself, I had to chuckle-LOL. My house phone is on the way out and the other day I found myself looking for my phone and thought, “Oh, I”ll just call my phone…YIKES, with what???? If my husband is not around or anyone else, I can’t call my phone. It is not silly, I totally get it:-) You have to try and grow some pansies in your new garden. awww.thank you, I like what you are creating with your garden and crafts-BEAUTIFUL TOO!!!

  3. Your garden and the pansies are quite beautiful. I love flowers in salads. They are a nice surprise. I have not seen pansies like this that I remember. They look like giant Johnny jump ups. Goodness. I hope they do well in the coming snow!

    • It snowed today and it is heading your way:-)Don’t worry it won’t stay on the ground too long-I hope. It melted by mid afternoon for it was very light. I will be putting my hardened off pansies out next week in the garden. I agree! In that mix there are some that look like larger johnny jump ups. The colors are so unusual:-) That is what I like about them. I love nasturtiums in my salads too:-)

    • I agree! I need to get my timing right and put my reading glasses on to see the tiny seed-LOL, but I am determined to make it happen:-)

  4. I have admired your pansies before so pretty and edible too. I love the old- fashioned ones, modern hybrids are too big and blowsy.

    • lol, Chloris, you always say it like it is! I agree they are too big and blowsy. Wish me luck in trying to save seed this year. I tried last year, but I kept missing them before they broke. I also was deadheading them to keep them around. I just need to get my timing right this year. The seed is VERY TINY but I am determined to try again.

  5. I think that Nokia have heard your pleas Robbie as they are rereleasing the old plain phones again due to consumer demand. No “smart” but a whole lot of what phones are meant to do, keep people connected. That’s really all we use our phone for so why do we need anything else?

    Here HERE with the pansies. There is something about those little happy faces looking up at you that sets your heart to singing. I love pansies and love your images of them. Beautiful :).

    Thank you for sharing how to grow these beauties in our own gardens. I wonder if we can get historical pansies like this here in Australia? I am going to have to check now!

    • :-)REALLY!!! That is so neat:-) I sure hope you do if I could send you seed, you know I would!!! I would love to see what you do with these flowers. I may have to bake a cake and
      put some on a cake one of these days for someone’s birthday. They have the most unusual colors which you just don’t see out there in the new pumped up flowers of today-LOL I call them flowers on steroids!

      • You just reminded me that my grandmother used to grow lovely pansies. The colours that would arrive out of a tiny packet of seeds was amazing. Now I really do have to look for some 🙂

      • lol..I know what you mean. I have a few plants in my yard from my grandmother’s garden which were from my mother’s garden. My parents just moved to my area this past summer. I have a lot of her plants. I love heirloom flowers and especially when they are from a family garden passed down:-)

    • awww:-) Kathy, that is so sweet. I know these little sweeties make me smile and others seem to enjoy them too:-) I can’t wait to see them in your garden, blog and cooking!!!! Do share:-) We need to all save seed and pass them on:-)

  6. Oh Robbie… one grows and then plants these beautiful pansies like you. It is as if your pour your soul into their beauty and they just glow in your garden!
    I am so out of rhythm with my blog. Your comment on my post about Josef where you shared your sad loss, brought me out of my silence and I wrote you a long reply. But I am so out of practice with blogging that I posted it in a funny way and I don’t think you will have seen it. Please would you go to my post about Josef on sweetbabyveg where you will see what I wrote to you?
    Thanks so much, love Karen x

    • Hi, Karen!!!!
      I have not been on my blog as often as I need either…you are not alone. I will head over there!!! I have missed your posts and hearing all about your beautiful home, garden and all your creative projects. Thank you, but I feel the same way about you. You are such a talented person with a giving heart…heading over…

%d bloggers like this: