If you're looking to get ahead start on your front porch containers, try adding a pot of pansies.

These charming little plants are hardier than they look or their name implies. Pansies prefer cooler temperatures, so they thrive in early Spring and then again in the Fall.

Developed from violas in the mid 1800's, pansies come in several colors, from soft blue to vibrant orange. Their petals are often multi-colored with whites, yellows, violets and blues. When planted, they prefer full to partial sun, regular watering, and fertilizer, once a week.

The name pansy, comes from the French "pensee," meaning thought. The markings on the petals are said to resemble a face, and when the bloom bows down with warmer temperatures, it is said to mimic a person in thought.

Pansies are also said to represent love and have been used in love potions in many cultures.

All parts of the pansy are edible, but only if no pesticides have been applied. Use them as a unique garnish on cakes and ice cream. Pansies, like violas, look lovely as pressed  flowers.