819. Emile’s pansies


Emile Etienne Metard won second prize for his pansies in the annual Palmerston North Horticultural Society’s Flower Show. He won a garden hoe.

This was in 1881. In all likelihood, Emile loved his pansies. Getting second place for his pansies in the annual Palmerston North Horticultural Society’s show of 1881 was a moment of glory. He thought of the occasion with pleasure throughout his life, especially when he used the garden hoe he had been awarded.

It is fast heading towards two centuries since Emile won second prize for his pansies in the annual Palmerston North Horticultural Society’s flower show. The hoe has done its dash. The pansies are dead. Sorry Emile Etienne Metard, but no one gives a damn.

48 thoughts on “819. Emile’s pansies

  1. exiledprospero

    a completed 3,000 piece puzzle, glued together and lacquered for posterity, highlighting its status as a useless pastime and equally useless object d’art.

  2. thecontentedcrafter

    With such a name Emile Etienne Metard obviously lived in Akaroa and travelling to Palmerston North with his pansies would have been quite a feat in 1881. I feel one must give a damn and now tell his entire story – for clearly here is a man and his hoe, worthy of remembering!

    1. Bruce Goodman Post author

      He was in fact the newspaper agent in Feilding, so his pansies didn’t have to travel very far. I have since discovered, since writing the story, a terrible fact: he didn’t get a garden hoe at all! I misread the newspaper report! Mr Metard got second place for his pansies, but Mr HOE got first place!!!!!! That is even more hilarious!

  3. Cynthia Jobin

    I have a lack of immunity to laughter and cracked up every time you did in the audio. I am still laughing so I’m not sure what this story is about.

    I’m very fond of pansies (from the French “pensées”) and I have a hoe.

    Both “pansy” and “hoe” are loaded words in the American rapper community.

    I totally agree that no one gives a damn.

    1. Bruce Goodman Post author

      Glad you got a giggle! Why I like this story is that it’s not even a story! The annual Palmerston North Horticultural Society’s show of 1881 is such a pretentious mouthful – “Rumford Flower Show” would be more concise and less risible-causing. As I said to Pauline, I’ve rechecked the newspaper article. There are a dozen stories there in the one report not least being Mrs Snelson’s bigonias (sic). Keep laughing. I have been laughing at this story for weeks waiting for it to be posted!

    2. arlingwoman

      It doesn’t really matter whether anyone cares now. Emile got his hoe (or didn’t) and cultivated his pansies and was happy. We’re all here for about a nanosecond in the perspective of all time and can’t actually expect much from succeeding generations unless we’ve caused a world war or developed a vaccine for …smallpox (who was that?)

      1. Bruce Goodman Post author

        That’s true – which I suspect is the point of the story! Except – however infinitesimal – the world today is different because Emile grew his pansies. He changed the direction of the universe – as we all do.

  4. Cynthia Jobin

    You say the hoe has done its dash, but that’s only about real hoers in real gardens, in New Zealand. In the 19th century there was a certain mystique about a man with a hoe: the famous controversial painting by the Frenchman Jean François Millet entitled “Man with a Hoe,” and the famous (in America) poem based on that painting written by the poet by Edwin Markham: “The Man with a Hoe.” Maybe a ho once functioned as a kind of trophy!

    1. Bruce Goodman Post author

      Well… um…. because… yeah… you might be right there, Keith. To get second (as I used to tell my students) is not to be a winner. You’re a loser. I think possibly after the pansy failure Emile Etienne Metard was heavily into vegetables.

    1. Bruce Goodman Post author

      Yes – I think (from memory) he had a store in an “early” New Zealand settlement called Feilding (yes! that’s the correct spelling!) and he was from Belgium. I THINK he had 5 daughters. As far as I can see (investigating for no other reason than he got second for his pansies at the flower show) that he went bankrupt and left New Zealand with his family. There are no Metards in the NZ births, deaths and marriages!


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