The Orderly Flowers of Warsaw

The Botanical Garden is not the only place in Warsaw where flowers are blooming. Armies of city workers have been out planting millions of pansies over the past couple of weeks. Bulbs—daffodils, hyacinths, and tulips—are also popping up all over town.

Early tulips in the full sun at Plac Unii. Did they pick the tulips to match the trams, I wonder?
Early tulips at Plac Unii. Did they pick the tulips to match the trams, I wonder?

Truthfully, it is still pretty cold and gray most days here. And Warsaw is a gray city. So, these struggling little patches of color are most welcome!

Pansies and other flowers at a traffic roundabout.
Pansies and other flowers on an overpass. These annuals would be toast by mid-May if they were planted in a similar location in Washington, DC.

Landscaping technique here is sort of the opposite of what I am used to at home. In Nashville, or in the Washington, DC area, only the hardiest perennials can take the full sun. We plant delicate annuals like pansies in the shade. Here, they are planted where they can take full advantage of what sunshine there is to be had. Bulbs are about six weeks behind where they would be in the DC area: we saw daffodils for the first time a couple of weeks ago, and crocuses a couple of weeks before that.

A mosaic of annuals at Lazienka Park.
A mosaic of annuals: one of several in the formal gardens below the Ujazdow Palace.

Gardening is different here. It’s very…orderly. Pansies are planted in uniform rows. I actually saw some guys using string to mark them out the other day. Most flowerbeds are in geometric shapes, often confined by neatly trimmed boxwood hedges.

A triangle of pansies surrounded by dwarf boxwood.
A triangle of pansies surrounded by dwarf boxwood at Ujazdowskie Park.
A perfect circle of pansies and more boxwood at the same park.
A perfect circle of pansies and more boxwood at the same park.
Rows of pansies at Ujazdowskie.
Perfectly spaced pansies at Ujazdowskie.

It’s a very old-fashioned, Continental style of gardening, and honestly, not to my taste. I’ll take a riotous English border, or a bee-friendly wildflower patch, thanks. But flowers are flowers, and I do appreciate the effort Warsaw puts into brightening up the place!

Annuals and some kind of early hosta (?) at Lazienka Park.
Annuals and some kind of early hosta (?) at the more natural Lazienka Park.
An unusually untidy field of tulips at Lazienka. In DC, this would be called a "deer salad bar."
An unusually untidy field of tulips at Lazienka. In DC, this would be called a “deer salad bar.”
Not a surprise that they do some lovely planters here. At the Botanical Garden.
Not a surprise that they do some lovely planters here. At the Botanical Garden.
Even the grim WWII monuments to various massacres merit a few pansies in concrete planters.
Even the many grim WWII monuments to various Nazi massacres merit a few pansies in concrete planters.
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I do think it’s nice the way the Poles honor WWII dead to this day. Nearly all the monuments are regularly refreshed with seasonal flowers, candles, etc.
Flower vendors are also popping up everywhere. A dozen big tulips costs around $5!
Flower vendors are also popping up everywhere. A dozen big tulips cost around five dollars!
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