The word pansy, like gay, has been so mowed down by its slang meaning that it can’t be used without evoking sniggering−at least among most American listeners.
Another stalwart who shakes off cold snaps is the lovely, but oddly named Hairy Toad Lily. These beauties aren’t bothered by cold or even light snow. Their demeanor is much more shy than pansies and you must seek them dilgently in the garden because they tend to keep their heads down instead of boldly facing the world the way pansies do. But they’re worth the effort, don’t you think?
Cimicifuga racemosa, or bugbane as they are commonly called, is another great, tough, late fall bloomer in my garden. Bugbane’s habit is to spear the sky with its grape-drenched blooms. No hiding for these bold beauties.
Some gardeners don’t like their scent, which is said to repel bugs, hence the common name. I love it. On a cool morning to bend down and smell their intense fruity essence is, to me, a true delight. Bugbanes are also a plant where I can’t chose between bud and bloom. Which is prettier? Luckily, this stalk has both.