Let's get growing: Garden centers ready to feed spring fever

Jannel Kuhta takes a hanging planter down on Friday, April 24, at Nature’s Edge Garden Center. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

BEMIDJI -- It appears that spring has finally sprung, and Bemidji area garden centers say they’re ready to feed the fever.

Between cold temperatures and the coronavirus, thoughts of gardening have been on hold this year. But that’s about to change as spring-like weather arrives.

“Now that the weather is warming up, everyone’s anxious to get out in their yards, raking and fertilizing,” said Justin Johnson, manager at Ace on the Lake. “It’s full on now.”

“We have people chomping at the bit,” added Hill’s Country Greenhouse owner Janee Hill. “It’s just spring fever. People just like the smell of dirt. They’re saying, ‘I always buy this, I want you to hold it for me.’ I laugh because all these people are saying what a horrible spring this is. I’m like, ‘We live in Minnesota, no spring is ever perfect in Minnesota.’”


Hanging planters and lawn decorations are on the display at Hill’s Country Greenhouse on Thursday, April 23. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

At Nature’s Edge Garden Center , co-owner Tyler Olson said sales of black dirt, seed and potting soil have been brisk, and he expects the warmer temperatures to bring in more customers.

“People have spring fever,” Olson said. “Even more this year, people are wanting to come in and see flowers and get going.”

All indications are the garden centers will be ready for them.

“All my plants are thriving and looking good,” said Dorothy Carpenter, who has operated Perkins Plants for nearly 30 years. She has decided to only take orders by phone now with curbside pickup starting May 1.

Dorothy Carpenter, who has operated Perkins Plants for nearly 30 years, stands in her greenhouse on Thursday, April 23. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

“So far what I’m getting from my customers and people who are trying me are saying, ‘I’m glad you’re doing it this way and we’ll definitely be ordering from you,’” she said. “I do have wonderful customers and they have been with me for almost 30 years, many of them. You can’t ask for much more than that.”


Customer and staff safety is a top priority for all local garden centers and greenhouses.

Crystal Peterson, owner of Deer Haven Greenhouse , said, “We’re taking some extra precautions here to keep us safe as well as our customers. We’re trying to make our retail area flow in one direction so that way there isn’t a lot of contact. We’re setting up tables outside, so when you’re browsing the greenhouse you can separate and put things in that area.”

Deer Haven also will allow customers to make appointments for after-hours shopping.

Dorothy Sundahl plants blue Hawaii on Thursday, April 23, at Hill’s Country Greenhouse. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

Cindy Bauer, manager of the greenhouse for Bemidji Co-op’s Country Store , said she is making some changes to ensure a safe flow of customers this year and adding sanitation wipes and hand washing stations. “We’ll have about 10 customers at a time safely,” Bauer said.

She expects more people to grow their own food this summer.

“I think there will be a lot of first-time growers,” Bauer said. “Some people don’t have garden spots, but I will be working with them to show how they can grow things out of containers. I really think that this is probably going to be a good year for us.”


Hanson's Greenhouse & Flora l in Shevlin has decided not to have its annual open house this year, but customers can phone in orders for single wave petunias starting this weekend for pickup on Wednesday and Thursday. Once the greenhouse opens on May 1, the first hour of operation at Hanson's will be limited to customers age 65 and over or persons with underlying health conditions.

While Mother Nature appears to be warming things up, keep in mind that this is Minnesota, and patience is a virtue when it comes to spring planting.

Basil grows at Hill’s Country Greenhouse on Thursday, April 23. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

“I always say if you try to do anything before Memorial Day you’re going to be mad at yourself,” Janee Hill said. “If you want to play that game, if you’re insisting on bringing the stuff home right now, make sure that you care for it in the evenings because our temperatures at night aren’t OK yet.”

Dennis Doeden, former publisher of the Bemidji Pioneer, is a feature reporter. He is a graduate of Metropolitan State University with a degree in Communications Management.
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