A glance outside the window brings an unfortunate realization: it’s raining cats and dogs. Despite the lack of sunshine, constant rain showers result in beautiful blooms come May. Luckily, whether you reside in Minnetonka, Wayzata, Excelsior, Long Lake or Shorewood, the communities have several garden shops and nurseries to accommodate gardening needs. Stick out your green thumb and hop on over to these gardening spots to visit with local shop owners, fetch advice and pick up springtime plants.
Spring Specialties: Tropical plants and combination planters
Fun Fact: Houses a design-driven garden center and fairy garden.
Beloved by the Minnetonka community, this nursery destination was voted No. 1 by Lake Minnetonka Magazine readers in the 2013 Best of Lake Minnetonka Readers’ Choice Survey. Tonkadale sells tropical plants and combination planters, and wows with a fairy garden. Robert Anderson opened the shop in 1947 and began as a breeder of African violets. Current general manager Jessie Jacobsen says shoppers flock to Tonkadale for plant and color variety. She also notes that the shop is a design-driven garden center. “We try to keep the end product in mind with all of our items,” she says. 3739 Tonkawood Road, Minnetonka; 952.938.6480.
Gregor Farm and Greenhouse
Spring Specialties: Hanging baskets
Fun Fact: Has booths at the Plymouth Farmers Market and the Minneapolis Farmers Market.
The Gregor Greenhouse was voted one of the top garden centers in Minnesota for value and quality in 2013. Owner Patty Gregor notes she and husband Tom do not take this lightly, and are proud of their hands-on and local products. Tom and his father Rex bought the garden center land in the 1970s. “We’re kind of off the beaten path; not too far away from society, but we are a destination,” Patty says. They began by selling vegetables to the Minneapolis Farmers Market and now sell vegetables and flowers at the market in Plymouth, as well as at their shop. 2592 Holy Name Drive, Wayzata; 763.478.9832.
Kelley and Kelley Nursery
Spring Specialties: Herbs and native woodland wild flowers
Fun Fact: Hosts a 20 percent off pottery sale in May.
The natme is no coincidence. Kelley and Kelley staked a presence in the Long Lake community more than 92 years ago when Bill Kelley and his brother Rod coaxed land from their parents. Proprietor Steve Kelley believes this history and commitment to Long Lake is what makes Kelley and Kelley so special. Stop in for the nursery’s wide variety of herbs, vegetables and perennials. Steve challenges readers to be bold this gardening season. “Try something different. Don’t stick to the tried and true, look for something you haven’t done before,” he says. 2325 Watertown Road, Long Lake; 952.473.7337.
Twin Orchards Nursery
Spring Specialties: Hosta varieties
Fun Fact: Originally a wholesale perennial grower.
With more than 400 different perennials on their grounds since 1979, Twin Orchards Nursery owners Jerod Fehrenbach and Alan Brandhorst know a thing or two about plants. In fact, the shop was once solely a wholesale perennial grower and just opened to the public in 2012. “We know our perennials up and down; we have been doing it now quite a while,” Fehrenbach says. “We have grown thousands of pots over the years.” Twin Orchards also offers a selection of small vegetable plants and carries a wide variety of hostas. While planting this spring, Fehrenbach advises gardeners to be mindful of soil and light conditions before selecting plants and flowers. 27225 Smithtown Road, Shorewood; 952.474.5955.
Otten Bros. Garden Center and Landscaping
Spring Specialties: Out-of-season tropical plants
Fun Fact: Sells all materials for straw bale gardening.
Bert, Joe and Leonard Otten founded Otten Bros. in 1953. At the shop this year, spring brings a large selection of vegetables, including organics and old favorites, and non-native flower options. Purchasing manager Kris Uter travels cross-country to select unusual flowering plants. “You don’t have what Grandma planted; you get to have some unique things,” she says. Otten Bros. also supports local products, including Alfalfa Secret, a fertilizer crafted by a local Cokato farmer. Uter recommends it for any and all plants. 2350 W. Wayzata Blvd., Long Lake; 952.473.5425.
The Garden Patch
Spring Specialties: Flower and herb varieties
Fun Fact: Began as a produce and cheese seller.
Tom Lingo struck gold in the Excelsior community 34 years ago peddling fruits, vegetables and cheese. He notes, however, that he found plants much more interesting and the business blossomed—pun intended—from there. With the organic food trend on the rise, Lingo notes they sell more and more herbs each season. “With people going into cooking and a healthier lifestyle, besides growing their own vegetables, [herbs] are the one thing that enhances meals,” he says. 23443 Smithtown Road, Excelsior; 952.474.155.