I spent most of yesterday at the Minnesota State Fair, selling memberships at the Minnesota State Horticultural Society booth in the Horticulture building. With perfect weather outside, the fair was crammed with people and we had a busy day at both the merchandise and educational booths.
My fellow membership sales workers and I sold 75 percent more memberships Monday than were sold on this day a year ago. (Woo-hoo!) The sun and warm temperatures may have had something to do with it, but I also think people who are interested in gardening realize the value of a hyperlocal (to use a new buzzword) organization committed to gardening in this climate. Northern Gardener is the only magazine devoted to gardening in USDA zones 3 and 4. In addition to the magazine, members get discounts at 130 nurseries around the state, free tickets to the Twin Cities home and garden shows, use of an extensive lending library and access to classes and events geared especially for northern gardeners. Fair-goers also get a $5 discount on membership as well as a nice-looking pruner, some fertilizer and a couple of booklets as a thank you gift.
But what about the Fair?
I did not stray too far from the Horticulture Building. I enjoyed a delicious peach-filled scone from the French Meadow Bakery just down Carnes Avenue from us, and purchased one of the Star-Tribune’s Minnesota T-shirts for my husband, who definitely sees Minnesota as having only two seasons – winter and road construction. Of course, I stopped at the gardens outside the horticulture building, which are shady and lovely even in the afternoon. The MSHS garden, cared for by volunteers from the St. Anthony Park Garden Club, benefited from all the rain we had this summer. The Joe-Pye weed, hibiscus and rudbeckia are enormous and the edging of Profusion zinnias is particularly cheery.
If you get to the fair this weekend, please stop by and see the garden!