One of my favorite garden center shopping expeditions occurs after the garden has been put to bed. (And by that, I mean that I’ve started my four month-period of ignoring it; I don’t do anything special to winterize it.) Usually, the first weekend of December finds me at the best local place for holiday plants, evergreen décor, and other fun seasonal stuff.

There are no bedazzled poinsettias here, just really cool cultivars, as seen at top (did not keep the tag on these). I also repeated on a purchase I made last year. Normally I compost these plants toward the end of January—they falter—but the Christmas Mouse cultivar (above) has staying power and continued to “bloom” through March last year. I have to say poinsettia growers are really stepping up. There are some really interesting varieties out there.  And I totally agree with this statement, from an Illinois extension writer: “I view these holiday-colored plants as a living floral arrangement for the holidays, as opposed to a permanent fixture in my houseplant collection. They’re just too tough to force into flower again in the average home setting.”

 I also get little novelty plants that hang out in the kitchen as long as they are viable. Sometimes these can become long-term houseplants; sometimes not. (I find that cyclamen can be really disappointing indoors—or it can be great.)

Not having much access to a woodlands—and  not caring to trespass—I buy a lot of my mantlepiece greenery, preferring incense cedar, juniper, and various pines and firs. I have a couple evergreens I can cut from, but to use them exclusively would be boring. As for trees, we don’t have a tree, but if we did, it would be freshly cut from a local grower. We have many such.

At this time of year, the garden center combines the best of both worlds. Outdoors, chainsaws whir and families pick out trees. Indoors, there is greenhouse warmth—along with too many tempting citrus plants. Must resist. It won’t work. Been down this road before.

No cider and cookies this year, thanks to COVID. I appreciate the owners’ acknowledging that masks only work if you keep them on.

My husband accompanied me for the first time this year and was glad he had. It was a Christmas kick-off, of sorts. Why do the holidays make me happy? It doesn’t make much sense. But they do.