Can you remember when you first started gardening? When you didn't know anything about gardening? Some people start gardening as children and learn things so early on, they may not remember. But I started gardening late, so everything was a learning experience! In fact, when I first started gardening, I didn't know the difference between an annual and a perennial. But I wasn't too proud to ask!
The simple explanation I got was that annuals are plants that bloom for one year. Perennials are plants that may die down in the winter, but they spring back to life, supposedly perennially.
Easy enough explanation. So, I made my first gardening rule: never plant annuals.
Why go to all that work and have to do it all over again the next year? And, generally I still try to follow that rule. (Have I told you yet that I'm a lazy gardener?)
But there's always an exception to every rule, isn't there?
The exception in my garden is the pansy (viola x wittrockiana). Although technically a perennial in some southern climates, they are generally used as a winter annual in the south, dug up and replaced when the weather turns warm. They are hardy to 0 degrees F, and seem to perk up even more as the temperature dips down to freezing. Which always amazes me. Of course, they are used differently in northern gardens.
Pansies are technically a member of the Viola genus, which is very diverse. But I like to think of pansies as the big brother of Johnny Jump Ups (viola tricolor), because so many have a 'face' like Johnny's.
Seriously, who could resist a face like that?