Although the word “pansy” has its origins in the French pensee, meaning “thought,” the word became a slur directed toward gay, effeminate, or gender-nonconforming men. Artist Paul Harfleet’s Pansy Project, which ceremoniously sets pansies into the earth at spots where homophobic abuse has occurred, reckons with both senses of the word. Hardy plants that can bloom through the snow, pansies intrinsically embody the resilience and fortitude at the core of the LGBTQIA+ community.
The image above is taken year 2 of them blooming in our garden. Left outside in harsh winter only to find they come back more beautiful in the spring.
Hudson Valley Art Packs
Each year, Hudson Valley Seeds commissions contemporary artists from around the United States to tell the story of a particular seed variety. That art and those seeds combine to create an Art Pack, a unique celebration of the diverse stories of seeds and their stewards.
Artwork by Paul Harfleet. In this digital illustration, the pansy takes its rightful place among many symbols representing the strength of the LGBTQIA+ community: a pride flag, a trans pride flag, a pink triangle, and a red ribbon.
In cool climates, we recommend sowing pansy seeds directly into a weed-free, well-prepared bed in mid-fall, and watering in well. Keep a close eye on the bed the following spring, keep it weeded and watered regularly, and you will soon see cheerful spring flowers. Deadhead spent flowers to prolong blooming, or leave a few for the plants to self sow.