My mission today was to find a pot of white pansies to place next to my front door for the winter, but from my first stop to my last, the garden shops overflowed with mini-fir trees, holly bushes, natural swags, gift centerpieces, and pinecone wreaths.
The greenhouse shelves lacked room for pansies.
The only color in the flower area was green – green branches, green needles, green leaves – with touches of red bows or gold adornments. I felt a jolt realizing Christmas comes in 34 days.
I crumpled up the paper scribbled with “something white to put in the planter next to the front door” and decided to start my holiday decorating early.
But then I remembered Thanksgiving.
The trees in my backyard have blanketed the ground with brilliant yellow, brown and maroon foliage. Each leaf that gently helicopters down reminds me that as soon as I scoop up the fallen mess with my rake and fill a wall of brown paper garden bags lined up by the curb, I’ll be seeing plenty of white by my front door, back door, roof, and garage in the form of snow.
Still, I like to display a white plant at my home’s entrance year-round. I have a system. Spring and summer, I choose Petunias, Vinca, Geraniums, or Impatiens. As fall arrives, massive mums replace the dainty buds and move into the planter. Then, I seek white pansies to bloom throughout the winter.
One year when I missed the mark, similar to this year, I resorted to putting a fake poinsettia on the porch and left the bogus white plant on display until spring. Winter lasts too long to be disappointed each time I stand in the cold, fiddling with my key, trying to get inside the front door, and looking down to see a plastic plant.
My last stop in search of pansies was at a greenhouse full of blooming Cyclamen that are supposed to be “easy to grow,” but not outdoors in the bitter cold. They are indoor plants. I wanted one.
I ventured further looking for anything white that could survive the bitter winter and came across Poinsettias in festive reds, marbled pinks and winter whites. Again, they are indoor plants. But their beauty was stunning. Then I came across a table full of hot pink Poinsettias for sale. Their color had the clarity and glow of LED lights. I reached out to grab the pot, and then I remembered.
“Can I help you?” the garden worker asked.
I reached inside my purse, and smoothed out the wrinkles of my crumpled paper.
“I’m looking for something white to put in the planter next to the front door,” I read and asked her for pansies.
But the plants had sold out.
“I have a white cabbage,” she offered.
I reluctantly left the warmth of the glowing Poinsettias and followed her through the green house, out a sliding back door, and into the cold afternoon. A few plain cabbages in black plastic buckets lay on the ground next to our feet.
They reminded me of Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree if it were a cabbage.
I remained skeptical.
“They are a dollar fifty,” she said, willing me to take one and maybe them all.
The white cabbage wrapped in its own circle of pale green leaves needed me, and I needed the cabbage. I brought the bargain home and planted the vegetable in a decorative pot to replace the dry and stiff brown mum that had faded in its treasured spot underneath the doorbell next to the front door. If by chance I find any pansies, I can plant them in a circle around the cabbage.
As I fiddled with the key to get back into the house after arranging the cabbage, the colors of Thanksgiving popped into my head again. The cabbage seemed right for the season, and hopefully I could enjoy the unusualness of the plant greeting me at the door until spring.
But as soon as my family has eaten all of the turkey, stuffing, string beans and sweet potatoes on Thursday, I’m heading back to the greenhouse to get one of those hot pink Poinsettias before they sell out like the pansies. Christmas is going to be bright.