Yes, it’s not even Valentine’s Day. And, yes, it snowed this morning. But for gardeners February and March are the time to gear up for the season ahead. Ordering seeds and attending one of the many horticulture days, spring-flings, and shows that gardening groups organize are the two best ways to get excited about the season ahead.
I’ve attended the Rice County Horticulture Day (scheduled for March 15 this year) for the past several years. It’s held at Buntrock Commons at St. Olaf and it’s always a great place to hear about what’s new and interesting and to see presentations by experts. One year, I even won a gift certificate to Switzer’s Nursery! (Raffles, drawings and lots of loot are traditional at these gardening events.)
Weather and other obligations often keep me from attending all the spring flings I would like, but here’s a list of events that I’d like to get to this year. (For a complete list of horticulture events and classes in Minnesota, check out the MSHS calendar.)
The granddaddies of gardening events are the “shows,” the traditional spring home and garden shows held in Minneapolis and St. Paul. The St. Paul show, now called the Minnesota Home and Patio Show, opens next Thursday, Feb. 14, and runs through Sunday, Feb. 17. The Minneapolis Home and Garden Show is two weeks later, opening on Feb. 27 and closing Sunday, March 2.
In between those shows, native plant lovers might want to check out the Minnesota Wild Ones Native Plant Expo Saturday, Feb. 23, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The focus this year is on attracting birds to your backyard. The event includes talks by wildlife authors Mariette Nowak and Carrol Henderson as well as exhibits by organizations providing products and services related to native plants and birding. Registration ends Feb. 19, so now is a good time to sign up. The event will be held at the Radisson Hotel in my hometown, Roseville.
Another must-go horticulture event is the annual District 7 Spring Fling. District 7 is the area around St. Paul, and many active, knowledgeable gardeners are part of the organization. This year’s program features Northern Gardener’s horticulture editor, Debbie Lonnee, discussing shrubs, and Jayne Roberts on garden art. Author Jeff Gillman, a U of M professor, will talk about his book The Truth About Garden Remedies. The Spring Fling is known not only for providing great information but for serving a fantastic lunch. This year the caterer is Tinucci’s. The event is held at Oakland Jr. High in Lake Elmo and requires registration by March 1. Check out the web site for more information.
Sunday, March 16, is the MSHS Plant Society Day at Gertens. This day will involve information booths and demonstrations by the many plant societies that are active in Minnesota. Daylilies, grasses, rock gardening, whatever your interest, there is a specialty club.
Now all I have to do to get really ready for the season ahead is to order my seeds…but first, I’d better shovel the driveway.