It’s still early, where I live. So far, only hellebores, chionodoxa and (waning) snowdrops are holding down the flower fort, with erythronium, scilla, species tulips and a few other bulbs on the way. Oh yeah, and then we always have the one (or two) iris reticulata and one (or two) eranthis. For some reason, these plants hate me. They are probably missing the summer baking they never get once the trees leaf out.

Of course, there are sadder things than a single Katherine Hodgkin blooming amid a little patch of leaf litter, but for a gardener, it’s pretty sad.

On the other hand, we were sitting in the back courtyard on Easter Sunday, with a veritable pollinator buffet going on before our eyes. All it took was five flats of violas and pansies I had picked up the day before, which were sitting on a table under a haze of buzzing wings. These will eventually be dispersed among potted tulips as well as given their own showcases. The bees will follow. 

I love pansies. I use them in pots as far into the season as I can, first surrounding tulips and then mixed in – not quite as fortuitously – with high summer annuals. Eventually, I have to get rid of them when they get too leggy.

I always take care to buy these from a good local greenhouse; it seems to make a difference. 

Viola odorata come up on their own in the ground; somebody on the block took a liking to these and they’ve been spreading freely for decades. I suppose saving these would be one of the purposes of not mowing  if I had a lawn, but they don’t seem to need lawns. If there’s a crack in the sidewalk, they’ll take it.  I do pull them up in late spring when they stop flowering, just to keep them under control. The earliest of them, in April, have a slight scent; after that, nothing. 

With members of the viola family holding down the fort, pollinators have nothing to complain about around here. And I’d much rather have cheerful pots of pansies than a weedy lawn.