Jan Maas, Beltrami County Master Gardeners
Our harsh Northern Minnesota climate can be responsible for severe damage to landscape plants, especially a winter like our last one. The prolonged cold as well as winter sun and wind can bleach and desiccate evergreen branches.
This past June I attended the Upper Midwest Regional Garden Conference at the Landscape Arboretum in Chaska. One of the keynote addresses was given by Marla Spivak, entomology professor at the University of Minnesota. She spoke on "Mainstreaming Pollinators in our Everyday Lives" and I would like to highlight some of her main points.
Peonies are an old-fashioned flower that thrives in our Minnesota gardens. Many peonies have been around for decades and, under the right conditions, continue to thrive and bloom every spring.
Expand your garden space by growing a living screen, training plants on walls or fences and add interest to your beds by growing vertically.
Bare root plants are a great way to get less common plants that may be only available through catalog sources and can be real bargains if purchased by the bag locally. However, receiving bare root nursery stock can be a little intimidating. Questions like how do I know this will grow or when do I plant outdoors come to mind. The good news is that bare root plants are in a dormant state and therefore optimal for transplanting.
Spring ephemerals are early blooming, short-lived wildflowers that emerge in early spring and disappear by early summer. They develop above ground parts in March or April, in our area more aptly April or May. They flower quickly and develop seed and most die back to their underground parts in early summer. The word ephemeral literally means "lasting a short time." Some plants considered to be ephemerals do not die back after blooming in early spring and are also included here.
Growing spring blooming bulbs is usually without uncertainty. Bury a clean, round, firm mature bulb in the ground and the reward is more certain than growing many other plants.
Fall is the time to get your perennial garden ready for spring. With the nice warm days we're having now there should be continued blooms in the garden. Sedums and asters are a couple of examples of flowers that show off this time of year. I tend to get a little lazy this time of year, but continued deadheading of spent blooms and weeding should be kept up right until frost.
Gardening is labor intensive and having the right tool for the job is so important. My husband is a big believer in having the “proper tool” for a particular job to the point where it has become a bit of a joke in my family. Unfortunately, in his case, having the proper tool for the job has led to a plethora of tools that have only one use, but that’s another tale that I won’t dwell on here!