Pick a few pansy flowers and add a smile to any occasion. No matter where you live, pansies provide color, and in some cases, fragrance to the garden and containers during the cooler months of the year.

Pick a few flowers and freeze them in ice cube trays to serve in your favorite beverage. Or float them on top of your favorite seasonal punch. They will brighten any occasion, especially when snow is in the forecast.

Set a few flowers on a bed of greens for unique flavor and added color. Or garnish your entrée. Just be sure to tell your guests the flowers are edible. Otherwise you will end up with a pile of pansies at the edge of each plate.

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Decorate cookies and cakes to make any dessert extra special. The cheerful flowers will generate happy thoughts and for some of us, a way to enjoy the last of this season’s garden.

Make crystallized sugar pansies. Beat an egg white until it is foaming. Add water as needed to make the glaze easier to spread.  Paint each blossom then sprinkle with sugar.

Only use pansies and other edible flowers that have not been treated with pesticides. Removing the reproductive parts in the center of the flower helps eliminate some of the bitter flavor.

Complete the setting with a pumpkin planter. Cut a hole in the top of the planter just large enough for the pot of pansies to fit through. Punch a couple drainage holes in the bottom and set your pansy plant inside. Place your pumpkin planter on a decorative plate to protect your tabletop.

Purchase a few extra pansies and create a special planter to show your appreciation to the teachers in your life.

You’ll need 2 yardsticks, a 4” x 4” wooden planter box, a potted pansy and saucer that will fit inside the planter box. Gather your glue gun and glue sticks, sandpaper and a hobby knife to create your gift.

Cut the yardsticks into 4” lengths and sand the cut edges smooth. Glue the yardstick pieces vertically and next to each other onto all four sides of the planter.  Set the saucer in the bottom of the planter box and place the potted pansy on top of it.

Your project is complete and sure to make the teacher’s day while creating a fun memory with the youngsters in your life.

Pansies can add a fun twist to any celebration, appreciation gift or meal. So, get creative and make your next occasion stand out with the pansy flower.

Melinda Myers has written more than 20 gardening books, including Small Space Gardening. She hosts The Great Courses How to Grow Anything DVD series and the nationally syndicated Melinda’s Garden Moment TV and radio segments. Myers’ website, www.MelindaMyers.com, features gardening videos, podcasts, audio tips and monthly gardening checklists.