Lots of new offerings at the garden shops
Gardeners itching to get their fingers in the soil have lots of new choices this growing season.
Above normal temperatures mean many have already jump-started the growing process, especially dedicated container gardeners.
'They can just bring them in and out" as temperatures lately flirt with the freezing mark, said Christine Jessen, co-owner of Forest & Floral Garden Center of Park Rapids.
Weeks of daytime temperatures in the 60s and 70s have spurred growth of annuals and seeds.
There are some new and interesting choices of annuals, Jessen said.
"Trailing impatiens, fillers and grasses" are becoming popular, she said.
The butterfly impatiens work in window gardens or pots that don't get blazing sun all day.
Another new offering is a candy corn vine. The dainty flowers look like candy corns. Those need fuller sun, Jessen said.
And she's seeing many buyers go for the old standards.
"The geraniums are beautiful this year," she recommended.
Last summer's dismal growing season didn't discourage many would-be gardeners, Jessen said. In the past few years since the economy tanked, more and more people are enjoying quality time as families growing things, staying closer to home.
"Lots of people are growing herbs," she said. "And more people are planting fruit trees as they become more conscious of what they're eating and where it's coming from."
Rows and rows of healthy looking tomato plants cover the tables of her greenhouses.
Because many of the shrubs, trees and plants are flowering early, buyers may miss the peak times for new growth.
Jessen said she's also seeing trends of raised garden beds and "square foot gardens" where gardeners use "strategic planning to keep it in a small place."
A new variety of azalea bushes that are Minnesota-hearty are called "northern lights."
They come in yellow, mandarin orange, pink and orchid colors.
And water gardening is becoming more and more popular, Jessen said. With new plant varieties, you can have a water garden in a pot as small at 14 inches, using submersible and floating lilies and other plants.
Another interesting plant is a variegated flowering mini maple tree.
"It's an indoor plant like a hibiscus that you can put out on your deck in nice weather," she said.