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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Flowers (10/03/05)

TITLE: Pansies Everywhere
By Michelle Vander Wal


Every have a decorating conundrum? In the décor magazines that you can pick up in any grocery checkout there lots of advertisements and “how to” columns on picking the right accessories to complement your rooms. Lamps, rugs, art, photo framing, vases, candles and conversation pieces parade across the page filled with colour, form and style. Next are the articles on arranging art or collectibles and using scale and texture to create warmth in a room. The possibilities are dizzying and trying to keep all the rules straight can cause you to throw your hands up in the air in defeat. But my dilemma is even more unusual and rarely addressed. How do you decorate when you love pansies?

As a child I spent a couple of weeks every summer at my grandmother’s house. She kept me busy with a schedule full of cooking demonstrations, crochet attempts, library visits and gardening. My grandmother loved to be outside working in her gardens or enjoying the flowers on her deck. My favorite flowers in her garden were the pansies. I’m not sure what attracted to me to them. By far they were the largest pansies I’d ever seen. Great velveteen disks of burnt orange and sunshine yellow, plush purple and sky blue grew in luxuriant masses along the driveway. Part of the appeal was I could pick as many as I wanted because they always grew back. I would press them in paper towel between heavy books and make bookmarks or other dried flower crafts. My bouquets would sit in small glasses of water along the window sill in her kitchen. Although they don’t have much of a scent pansies to me are a happy flower. Their little petal faces with the yellow centers never fail to remind me of my beloved grandmother or my childhood.

When I grew older I began to collect things with pansies on them. The most common rendition is of the wild pansy, commonly called a “Johnny-jump-up.” It’s a tiny flower with a yellow centre and the petals are light on the edges and darken to purple in the middle or vice versa. They also seed themselves prolifically and “jump up” in unexpected places. I have books with pansies on the cover, tea cups, ribbons, silk flowers, recipe cards, oven mitts and stationary-- all with pansies. I have what is now called a “collection.” It sits in a box in the basement. In modern decors of neutrals and clean lines where does one display such happy, homey and common flowers as pansies?

One solution presented itself when I began decorating my daughter’s bedroom. I could indulge all my flower fantasies. Curtains with cabbage roses, decoupaged pansies on the bed knobs, flower fairies on the rocking chair, her room is beginning to look like a Victorian bower. This is quite at odds with the rest of my house full of its earth tones and Craftsman style furniture and art. I hope that in time she doesn’t come to resent my flower frenzy. In a way decorating her room let’s me relive all the symbols and memories of my childhood, most of them wrapped up in the happy faces of flowers. I still have pansies popping up in my kitchen, in my bookshelf and on my stationary; and of course in the garden. In the spring with frost still in the air I wait impatiently for the garden centres to open so I can buy flats of my favorite. If you come to visit, you’ll know my house by the pots full of bright, cheerful pansies bidding you welcome.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Debbie Sickler10/11/05
I enjoyed reading your story. (I love decorating and flowers too). However, there were at least four or five typos (missing or doubled words). I think it could have used more paragraph breaks too, but I tend to go overboard on those myself, so maybe you can ask someone who knows better. :) Over all, I think you did a good job!
Jan Ackerson 10/12/05
Very cute; I can just imagine your house and your daughter's room. (Bet you could just kick yourself that your first word was a typo...) Very charming and sweet piece.