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Blooming just in time

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IDENTIFYText ColorSwatch/NoneStrokeStyle/$ID/SolidText ColorSwatch/NoneStrokeStyle/$ID/Solid$ID/NothingText ColorText Color$ID/NothingText ColorText Color: As 5-year-old Keziah Sebastian made her way around the nursery, her grandmother Velda Good helped her identify each plant, sharing her gardening experience. Later that day, the group planned to plant them all together while Good is in town from Ohio.
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SHOP: (From right) Keziah Sebastian, 5, places a plant in theshopping wagon as her 3-year-old sister Hadassah helps her grandma, Velda Good, pull the wagon.

by Andrew Maciejewski and Clay Winowiecki , amaciejewski@h-ponline.com -

It's time to pull out the gardening gloves, trowel and watering can. Gardening season is back.

The arrival of warmer weather has brought with it the opening of the seasonal Huntington Nursery, located at 2964 W Park Drive. While most companies experience a gradual start to the year, owner Kevin Yarger said as soon as they open, they get busy. 

"This is our busiest time of year not only for the garden center but for the flower shop -- partly because of Mother’s Day of course but also because this is the time of year where everyone is planting their gardens," Yarger siad. "It all conglomerates into this week or two."

He said they sell through a lot of geraniums, hanging baskets and combo planters for Mother's Day, but he said the ratio between fresh-cut flower sales and living flowers are about 50/50. 

Yarger said Mother's Day is usually a good time to plant annuals and perenials becuase normally the early morning frosts go away by this time of spring, especially because the earlier you plant them, the more time you -- or your mother -- can enjoy them. 

"A fresh cut flower arrangement in a week or so is going to be spent, where the living flowers can be enjoyed all summer," he said.

Rebekah Sebastian was shopping with her mother Velda Good, who was visiting from Ohio, and her two daughters Keziah and Hadassah. As 5-year-old Keziah pointed to different flowers, Good would identify them all, attempting to satisfy Keziah's inquisitive mind. 

Kaylee Stewart, regional manager of Gooseberry Creek Garden Center in Marion, has some advise she passes along to all of her customers, which is especially helpful for people who may not have a grandmother who's so knowledgable as Good is.

Stewart said it's important that customers know what type of plants to buy based on how much sun they'll receive.

"That's the easiest way to kill something," she said.

She also recommends treating plants like pets, taking care of them on a daily basis.

Planting season comes and goes quickly, so the center is only open for a short window.

Yarger said his shop usually finishes up annuals sales by the end of June, and he said that is when they transistion to selling perennials and shurbs.   

According to Purdue Master Gardener Beth Ann Guido, gardeners need to be careful about what they plant before summer has a chance to set in.

"You can plant any hardy perennial, which is anything that has a tough stem," Guido said.

Guido recommends planting "cold crops" in April such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussel sprouts, potatoes, lettuce and spinach, but there is still some time to plant those crops in early May. 

 

For newcomers who are looking for the best brands, Guido recommends both Proven Winners and Monrovia.

"(Proven Winners) has put a lot of science behind their products," Guido said. "They have a facility where they do cuttings, (so) nothing comes from seeds. Everything comes from the mother plant."

When flowers grow from seeds, gardeners won't always get what they're hoping for, as different flowers may pollinate together, she added.

Monrovia is similar to Proven Winners.

"It's just a proven nursery," she said. "It's been around for years and years and years, and the science behind their product is true."

For beginners, Guido recommends they start small.

"We all start out and we all think we can do a lot more than we can," she said. "Next year you can add to it and you'll have less of a chance of losing a lot of things."

Guido also suggested growing plants native to Indiana, since they have the highest chance of being successful. She recommends coneflowers, turtle head flowers and beebalms.

Most important, she said, is being willing to fail.

"That's the best way that I have ever found to learn is to learn through my failures," Guido said. "If it doesn't work the first time then try it again."

Purdue master gardeners seek to help all gardeners by answering questions. Gardeners in need of help can call Purdue's Grant County Extension Office and a master gardener will come by your garden to assess your garden for free. Huntington County's Purdue Extention also has master gardeners on hand, and they can be reached at 260-358-4826.

"Go out, be brave and read the package label," Guido added. "You'll find when you plant seeds you'll get a whole wealth of information on how to plant it, when to plant it and how to take care of it."