Needham Historical Society

Line of Pansies

Pansy Festival
Spring 1998

The Giant Swiss Pansy, first grown in the United States by Needham resident Denys Zirngiebel, is the official flower of the town of Needham. Zirngiebel migrated from Switzerland to America in the 1850's and was the director of what became the Arnold Arboretum. On a 35 acre farm on South Street he developed several varieties of flowers including the giant Swiss Pansy. He maintained massive greenhouses on this farm, and owned the patent for steam heating which is still in use today. At one time he was making daily shipments of pansies to the White House and the War Department in Washington D.C.

Mr. Zirngiebel, buried in the Needham Cemetery with his wife, was father of Henriette, who married Andrew Wyeth of Cambridge. They were the parents of Newell Convers Wyeth, of the world famous family of painters.


In the spring of 1998, the Needham Historical Society will be holding its 16th annual Pansy Festival at the home of the Society at 53 Glendoon Road. Pansies in several colors will be soldwith orders for the flowers taken during the weeks leading up to the Festival. They will also be sold at the Society for two weeks before the actual festival day.

All proceeds will be used for a variety of programs supporting the Historical Society, including the care and maintenance of its beautiful 1710/1840 Society home and contents and to help in the preservation of our town's history.

One of the Society's dreams is to see every home in Needham with its own pocket of pansies.

picture of Pansy festival
Joe Quinnan of Hillcrest Gardens, and friends, at the Giant Pansy Festival
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