96 Pansies, 16 Snaps and the Banana Pudding Incident

Should look fab in a month or so.
Should look fab in a month or so.

After two days of scrubbing, my fingernails still have a few black stains here and there. Maybe there’s something in the fine print on the Scotts Nature Scapes Color Enhanced Mulch that says use gloves, but I didn’t stop to read it. No, I was just too excited to break into the five bags of Classic Black I’d just bought, along with 15 bags of topsoil and a big ol’ block of peat moss.


I may have mentioned a time or 20 that I love, love, love October. After a summer of record-setting heat, this weekend’s unseasonably cool weather I actually felt high (not that I know how that feels, of course). That’s probably how I ended up buying two 48-count flats of pansies.

Summer left me in a funk with a funky yard to match. I didn’t plant any flowers last spring, which was smart because everything would have baked to a crackly crunch unless I watered them every day, and that doesn’t make good environmental sense. My grass was crunchy and that matched my mood. In the fall, I promised myself, there’d be Pansy Pandemonium.

Here’s the thing:  The area I have to cover out front is a rather large, serpentine-shaped garden under two beautiful, strong maples. If you know anything about maples, you know not to plant anything under them. Some lessons, though, I have to learn the hard way. I had one, great year before the tree roots surfaced and strangled everything around them. In order for anything to grow now, I needed to add a layer of dirt several inches deep. This year, it required 15 bags of topsoil. I didn’t care; I was long overdue. Plus, it’s literally dirt cheap. And as if by divine design, that lovely, black mulch was on sale at Lowes (as were snapdragons, so I bought 16!).

I’m not a great gardener. In fact, I kill just about everything. Pansies, though, are darn-near indestructible. I didn’t pay attention to them until we moved here to N.C., and all winter long I’d see these purple and yellow flowers just blooming away, even under ice, all the way through spring. Just about every fall I’d plant pansies, but I haven’t for the past two years.

Probably has something to do with how I ended up buying 96 red, orange, gold and white flowers. Now here’s something else about which I need to remind you: I do not function well in the sun. I suffer from terrible dizzy spells, which makes planting flowers a no-no. Besides, Bobby could do it in half the time. Still, it was a lot to ask. Thus, banana pudding . . .

Bobby spent a couple of hours on Saturday prepping the area; I was out there, too, installing solar landscape lights along the driveway then covering the 30-foot strip with ink-black mulch. I sat on the ground to work the mulch in, scooting along as I went, because standing or crouching would cause me to black out. (Oh be quiet; I know I’m a wimp.)


Sunday, I planted the snaps in two high containers while Bobby dumped and smoothed all the dirt, mixed in the peat and planted all 96 pansies. We’re both big NFL fans, but fortunately for me, this was a “bye week” for his Vikings. When he was done, he was dirty and sweaty, but the pansies were beautiful. When he came inside, there was a 13-by-9 pan of banana pudding cooling in the ’fridge.

Problem is, I like banana pudding, too. I wish I didn’t and tried so very hard to resist, but that night I had an incident. It started with just a spoonful, and ended with me having a rather large bowlful while watching back-to-back episodes of Bored to Death on HBO On Demand.


I haven’t had more since, and the last of the 13-by-9 pan of pudding should be gone by this evening.

Wish I could say the same about black stains on my fingernails.

And there is pansies, that’s for thoughts. ~  William Shakespeare

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Leslie J. Ansley is an award-winning journalist and entrepreneur who blogs daily for TheRoot. She lives in Raleigh, NC.