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It's Our Turn: Looooong winter plants fruitful frustration for gardeners like me

If you think it's been a loooooong winter, try being a gardener.

With snowflakes falling well into April, it's hard to believe spring will ever arrive and this latest blast of snow on Thursday is just insulting.

Actually, it's painful.

I need to get into my gardens to heal this aching urge. Seriously.

My green thumb is fading back to a dull pale pink. Gak!

My new patio set is hiding under a big, ugly blue tarp with a snow shovel holding it down. Sigh...

My garden ponds are lifeless under that smothering blanket of snow. Boo!

The little peeks of plants that poked through during those few thawing, sunny days of late-March have put a knot in my gut. Yipes!

I'm sick of it! Blech.

Please, God, bring on the warm breezes, pink flip flops and earthy scent of wet grass.


Last month, I had a glimmer of hope when I attended the Let's Get Growing workshop, sponsored by the Douglas County Master Gardeners. It was a much needed dose of hope for those of us with the springtime urge to grow stuff.

The event featured a great variety of sessions on everything from the best veggies to grow to what's new in gardening for 2013. It was blissful torture.

The workshop left me with a huge wish list and wicked longing to get my garden gloves on a few things, like an Oriental "Cobra." It's a new variety of lily for 2013. Or, I'd really like to try to grow some new ferns, like "The King" with its shiny apple green fronds. Oooo... the new echinacea for this summer include a doozie called "Cinnamon Cupcake," with its cinnamon-red pom-pom flower. I heard hot peppers and microgreens are the hot-ticket in gardening lately; they'd be fun to try. I definitely want to try to grow some Italian parsley this year too. It will be delicious! And, of course, I'll plant my traditional rosemary, basil, thyme, oregano and lemon balm. Plus, I've already made plans to plant some big plumey ornamental grasses in the big clay pots in front of the garage... maybe a pretty flower to trail down the sides...


In the midst of one of the many early April blasts of snow, a glimpse of hope began to sprout at my place. Snuggled right up to the south side of the house, a rogue tulip started poking through the rocks and leaves.

God bless that little flower. I hope it's still there incubating under yet another pile of snow. I'm holding out hope. Grow! Grow! Grow!

There's some comfort in knowing I'm not alone in this funk. My husband is starting to get twitchy too. He gets a little goofy until he can fire up the lawnmower for the first time and continue his annual quest for our yard to reflect golf course turf perfection. It's an obsession with him. I just stay out of his way.


It's OK to admit you've been swinging through the local greenhouses, just soaking up what might be... I've been doing it too. It's always sunny and 70 in there.

It's necessary therapy this spring.

And when you're in there, you can't help but get a little giddy and hopeful.

OK, I know spring will eventually arrive.

The sun will warm the earth soon and I'll be up to my elbows in bee balm.

Before I know it, I'll be tending the bonfires while weeding the raspberries.

I'll sip some iced tea from a big pink glass while wearing my floppy garden hat.

Yeah, yeah, sooner than later, my husband's spider web of garden hoses will be sprawled across the yard and his fancy-schmancy inventory of sprinklers will be chik-chik-chiking.

Soon enough, the red-winged black birds will sing their summer song. I'll be barefoot, rocking in my chair listening. The rhythmic whirrrrrr of my husband's lawnmower will be the background beat to the neighbor kids' baseball game. And I will sit back, scrape dirt from under my fingernails, think about my next garden project and relish every single second of that wonderful moment.


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"It's Our Turn" is a weekly column that rotates among members of the Echo Press editorial staff.

Amy Chaffins

Amy Chaffins is a journalist working for the Echo Press newspaper in Alexandria, Minnesota.

(320) 763-3133