April 19, 2011

Gardening flowers

Business, gardeners prepare for spring.

Annuals and perennials are beginning to arrive at Cass County businesses and Logansport resident George Knutson is taking notice.

“I will pick up some plants next month,” he said. “I shop and look now and buy when I’m ready.”

Knutson is retired and lives on a farm, so he has plenty of time and space to work on his landscaping. He usually buys three trees every year.

He generally shops for bushes and trees to fill in large areas, but also enjoys looking for new roses to plant.

Chuck’s Towers and Flowers offers customers a large selection including annuals, trees, bushes, shrubs, tropical plants, house plants, vegetables and herbs. It also carries close to 4,000 perennials.

Owner Chuck Deitz said many Cass County gardeners like perennials, but also prefer to add some colorful annuals to liven things up a bit.

“I think people buy a variety,” Deitz said. “The annuals have color all year round and perennials have a bloom time.”

For those looking for less work, Deitz said, perennials are planted monce and will return every year.

Hostas are the No. 1 perennial purchased at Chuck’s Towers and Flowers.

“Mainly because most people have shady areas,” Deitz said. “They are easy to grow and there are so many different ones.”

In addition to Hostas, daylillies are also easy to take care of.

“If you kill those, you better quit gardening,” Deitz joked.

At D&R Fruit Market, shoppers have a variety of plants to choose from each year.

Manager Neil Stewart said the business is a full garden center complete with everything a gardener might need including fertilizer, potting soil, mulch, vegetable plants and bedding plants, trees of various sizes, perennials and annuals.

The annuals have already started to arrive. From colorful spring pansies to snapdragons, the business will eventually have almost any annual a gardener could hope to find.

“It all depends what your favorite is,” Stewart said.

Deitz suggests people wait to start planting their gardens until after the last frost, which generally takes place around May 10.

“I always say trees, bushes and shrubs — the sooner, the better,” he said. “Mother’s Day is a good date to plant annuals or vegetables in the ground.”

Some gardeners have become anxious, however. Stewart said several people are already buying some of the hardier vegetable plants including cabbage, broccoli and onions.

Those stopping at D&R Fruit Market range from beginners to people who have been gardening for years.

“We have a good mix of people,” said Stewart. “A lot of people want to make their yards look nice every year.”

At Chuck’s Towers and Flowers, customers range from 4-H members just learning to garden all the way to 85-year-olds who have been gardening all of their lives.

Stewart said suppliers usually come out with some type of new product to sell.

Deitz, who grew 4,000 perennials this year, also orders new types of plants.

“I try to place the order by the fall to get it in the spring,” he said. “I get stuff from all over. Some of these other states have a lot more variety.”

Even with new options to choose from, many gardeners still have their favorites.

Petunias and geraniums are two of the most popular annuals sold at Chuck’s Towers and Flowers.

“I couldn’t keep the geraniums in last year,” Deitz said.

Plant colors range from red, white, pink, coral, lavender and dark burgundy.

One new trend this year is mixing. Deitz said people are planting annuals, perennials and vegetables together. He explained the gardeners are trying to get different textures by using the combination of all three.

When shopping for items to plant, some people may know exactly what they want while others might need a helping hand.

Deitz said he could help people come up with ideas and also instruct them on how to care for a specific plant.

“I had a young couple, who bought a house and didn’t know where to start on landscaping,” he said. “I can go in and give options.”

Deitz said the business can draw a sketch for the customer and either landscape the area for them or let them give it a try.

Stewart said D&R Fruit Market has six to eight garden experts available to help.

“We just want to be able to answer people’s questions with knowledge,” he said.

• Denise Massie is a staff writer at the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at 574-732-5151 or

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