Auburn: City of Pansies? | Klaas

The readers have spoken, and a slight majority of them came up smelling pansies.

The popular cultivated viola – a large-flowered garden plant rich in colors – is the winner of a three-month Auburn Reporter poll asking readers to suggest an official city flower.

Welcome to Auburn, the City of Pansies.

Not exactly what a tough town of blue-collar backbone had in mind.

"Pansies?" one e-mailer questioned. "What is Auburn thinking? What's next? An official shrub, an official bug?"

Unmanly connotations aside, this is a hardy, vibrant plant we're talking about, right?

"In a city that brings you the mighty Trojans, Lions and Ravens, we present to you, the Pansies?" another reader offered.

The poll attracted a wide range of candidates and suggestions, some constructive, others unprintable.

Some readers questioned why the City is considering a flower power movement in the wake of a sour economy with many families struggling.

"The City of Auburn could adopt a hungry family a week and supply food to that family, then obviously the flower for Auburn could be the Forget Me Not," Jim Sorenson wrote.

Other readers simply didn't take the poll seriously – and still others took their shots.

"The dandelion comes to mind," one reader suggested. "They thrive in unkept lawns, our cracked sidewalks and all worn roads leading – through dilapidated downtown – to our esteemed City Hall."

Regardless, pansies stood tall in the campaign, beating a field that included the indigenous trillium.

"I like the trillium for our city flower. It's native, in abundace, very pretty, and the tri-aspect of it reflects our relationship with Algona and Pacific as a sort of tri-cities of this valley," wrote William Harris.

Nevertheless, the pansy trumped the trillium, the hydrangea, the showy foxglove, even our state flower, the rhododendron.

Instead of the City of Pansies, how about "all rhodies lead to Auburn," wrote Len Elliott.

Now, it's up to city, arts and parks and other community leaders to adopt and embrace the pansy. A proposal to declare the pansy the official flower could be presented at the City Parks Board, which then could comment and recommend it for the City Council to consider.

The seed has been planted. Good things do come from a colorful flower.

"The pansy is the representative flower for the Auburn Garden Club, so of course we are thrilled that it was the polling favorite of your readers," Tanya Galat said. "The sight of a pansy on a cold snowy day always brings joy; and along with the robin, what better harbinger of spring?

"There are many spectacular seasonal blooms, but the pansy is a rare flower for all seasons."

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