All across the lake area, green thumbs are itching. When the first crocuses, daffodils and tulips peek through the soil, gardeners start imagining their soggy, springtime yard full of green grasses and the flowering beauties of summer. After one of the snowiest winters on Minnesota record, gardening amateurs and enthusiasts alike will have plenty of new varieties and colors available to design a garden that will push any remnant of winter far, far away.
Garden stores and nurseries all a-buzz over the most anticipated plant of the year: the black petunia. “It’s going to be a spring must-have flower,” says Kristine Uter, marketing manager at Otten Bros Garden Center.
Designers pair the black or sometimes dark purple flower with white for a formal look or with a hot pink bloom for a funky feel. Uter says schools and alumni are even requesting the flower to be featured in beds that finally can have a black flower to correspond with a school color.
“You have to see them,” says Vicky Greer, designer at Nature’s Harvest. “People will see them potted up and say, ‘I want that combination at my house.’”
Color My World
While black and dark colors may be the new ‘it’ thing in gardens, there are also many new varieties that boast vibrant colors and easy growing. “I have customers come back every year for Dragon Wing begonias because they are so forgiving,” says Patty Gregor, one of the owners of Gregor Farm and Greenhouse. Gregor says Dragon Wings are perfect for cabin-goers who need a plant that will perk up after a dry weekend.
Whatever your need, color scheme or desire for your garden, local nurseries and garden centers have been anticipating your desire get started on a backyard masterpiece. Here’s a look at what you can expect this spring:
15310 Minnetonka Blvd., Minnetonka
Spring hours: Weekdays, 8:30 a.m.–6 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m.–5 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m.–4 p.m.
Weber’s Westdale is thinking yellow. The Minnetonka garden center showcases bulbs and pansies for the spring in shades of cheerful yellows. “Yellow is a bright and popular color,” says Mary Becker, design room manager. You can see the color featured in Westdale’s garden room during their various spring garden shows. “I hope people walk away with inspiration,” she says. “We highlight a few things so people can see different color combinations or learn how to use something. It’s one thing to see something on the shelf. It’s another to learn how to use it.”
Dick and Colleen Weber have been helping gardeners discover new ideas since opening Weber’s Westdale in1973. Their shop features plants as well as outdoor containers, pottery, fresh flower designs and nature-inspired permanent arrangements. “We are also known for our unique home accessories and gifts,” says Becker. Customers seek out Bulldog candles and Minneapolis-based Thymes products like soaps and lotions.
For the spring and summer, Becker recommends adding ferns to your garden. “They are perfect for outdoor container gardens, and work in both sun and shade,” says Becker. “People use the Kimberly Queen Fern in outdoor pots and love them.” The Kimberly Queen Fern originates from Australia and is very easy to grow. Weber’s Westdale sells the Kimberly Queen in pots starting at $19.95.
320 Wayzata Blvd. E., Wayzata
Spring hours: Monday–Saturday, 9 a.m.–5 p.m.
Nature’s Harvest is excited about rolling out darker colored plants for gardeners this spring. Not only will they offer the new petunia varieties but darker ivies and coleuses that can keep your garden looking fresh. “You’d be surprised with how they look,” says designer Vicky Greer. She recommends their sun begonia which grows 10–15 inches in diameter and is mildew resistant.
This Wayzata garden center and boutique first opened on Lake Street in 1992. Now they sell a variety of fresh plants, gardening goods and vintage gifts at their current location on Wayzata Boulevard. The shop prides itself on offering ideas as fresh as their flowers. They host gardening groups for hour-long demonstrations on several topics. “We demonstrate how to plant a topiary or show different color combinations,” said Greer. “I think people are afraid of what looks good together so when they see it, they say, ‘I love that.’”
Greer says customers know Nature’s Harvest not only for their unique container gardens but their topiaries. “They are very versatile, and they work in sun or shade,” said Greer. Topiaries were originally groomed for nobility in European gardens, but Greer insists they can add creativity and originality to your garden. Nature’s Harvest topiaries come with one, two or three balls and typically start at $95.
3739 Tonkawood Rd., Minnetonka
Spring Hours: Monday–Saturday, 8 a.m.–6 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
Tonkadale is planning for a pretty array of spring garden accessories and plants for your backyard—and your fairy garden. “I think there’s a lot of people growing fairy gardens,” says manager Jessie Jacobson. “It’s generational. We see moms with daughters and grandmothers with grandchildren.” Jacobson invites people to learn about the whimsical and the practical through their Saturday and Sunday seminars. “On Sundays, kids and families can make clothespin fairies, design a pinecone birdfeeder or plant lettuce seeds,” she says. There are also plenty of grown-up topics, ranging from fruit trees to hydrangeas; you can peruse seminars on the website.
Tonkadale’s long history of horticulture started in Minnetonka in 1947. The company has always been known for spring bedding plants, which continues to be sold at the store today. Tonkadale will feature the new petunia varieties in their container gardens and colorful hanging baskets. “We are on the cutting edge as far as choosing varieties,” says Jacobson. “We are very good at choosing what grows best together and we have talented designers who choose unique combinations.”
For the spring, Tonkadale recommends space-challenged gardeners try out their new raised beds made out of cedar. “These are particularly good for people just getting started with especially vegetable gardening,” said Jacobson. The Grownomics brand beds can be used for vegetable gardens, flowerbeds or even those whimsical fairy gardens. The raised beds start at $99.
2350 W. Wayzata Blvd., Long Lake
Spring hours: Weekdays, 8 a.m.–6 p.m.; Saturday, 8 a.m.–6 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
Otten Bros are planning to showcase fun this spring. From fairy gardens to the new breeds of petunias, Kristine Uter, marketing manager at Otten Bros, says it’s only natural since a bit of our inner child comes out in the springtime.
Combine a garden center and landscaping firm with a history in the west metro that spans four decades and you’ll find Otten Bros. The shop is proud to sell several Minnesota-grown plants that can satisfy many gardening tastes. The designers at Otten Bros are anticipating using both new petunias and dark colored foliage this spring. “You can do all these great, gorgeous pots and use different textures of plants—and we’re not just planting with annuals this year,” adds Uter. “We’re seeing a big switch to putting perennials in pots, so at the end of the summer, you put the plant in the garden and you have it for next year.”
If you can’t warm up to the idea of dark-colored plants, Uter says to check out their new varieties of hydrangeas. “It’s this connection to the past. My grandmother had big hydrangeas, so it’s nostalgic for me,” says Uter. Pink shrubs like the Bella Anna and Pink Annabelle offer the old-fashioned “poof-balls,” but you can also try Tickled Pink, Vanilla Strawberry and Little Lime in your garden. “They are ice cream colors and super easy to grow,” she says. The plants start at $19.99.
Gregor Farm & Greenhouse
2592 Holy Name Dr., Medina
763.478.9832Spring hours: Weekdays, 9 a.m.–7 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m.–6 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
Gregor Farm’s plants are not only Minnesota-grown—they are Medina-grown. “We take a lot of pride in growing everything on-site,” says Patty Gregor, one of the owners. The family-owned farm sells shrubs, bedding plants, perennials, vegetable plants and a wide variety of garden accessories. “If it doesn’t survive in my garden, I’m not going to sell it to anyone else. We always do a trial run,” says Gregor.
Don’t expect the gardeners at Gregor Farm to immediately push a new plant. Instead, they try to find the right plant for the customer. “There are new varieties, but I like to strive on proven garden performance so the gardening novice and expert will both have success,” Gregor explains. She recommends new varieties of begonias that are mildew resistant and colorful. “We have an extensive selection,” she says.
If vegetable gardening is more your style, Gregor Farm offers several heirloom tomato plants that yield different colored tomatoes. “Our vegetable plants are tried-and-true varieties that we ourselves would grow. We’re not going to pawn off something off that may not be vigorous in the garden,” says Gregor. The farm is also known for their hanging baskets and combination baskets that Gregor insists are filled with quality plants to suit any taste. “We have the ability to grow everything here, and we have a nice selection of variety,” she says.
Weber’s Westdale: Kimberly Queen Fern
Starts at $19.95
Perfect for outdoor container gardens in both sun or shade.
Nature’s Harvest: Topiary Trees
Starts at $95
Add creativity to your garden with a topiary that features single, double or triple balls.
Tonkadale: Grownomics Raised Beds
Starts at $99
Raised beds made of cedar are perfect for vegetable gardens in small spaces.
Otten Bros: Hydrangeas
Starts at $19.99
Add nostalgia to your garden with new varieties of hydrangeas in colors that remind you of ice cream.
Gregor Farm & Greenhouse: Begonias
New varieties of begonias are colorful, very forgiving and easy to grow.