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Garden Diva to celebrate arrival of spring

HAYWARD — Winter seems to have finally come to end in southern Minnesota, and few could be happier about it than Holly Beenken, owner of Garden Diva Design Studio in Hayward.

“We have all of our plants in, so that’s exciting,” she said, sporting a huge smile. “We’re finally getting some nice weather.”

Beenken is set to host her spring open house during regular business hours today, Friday and Saturday. Along with her showcasing spring and summer decor in her store, the greenhouse will be open for customers to browse through her selection of flowers, shrubs, trees and lawn decor items.

While the late winter has been a hindrance to farmers in the area, the planting season for these items is open. She said it really doesn’t matter calendar-wise when people choose to plant in the spring, as long as the soil temperature warms up and stays consistent.

“Now it looks like the evening temperatures are in the 50s, which is always a good sign that you can go ahead and get going,” Beenken said. “A lot of the plants typically don’t like the 30s and 40s. You can plant them, but they typically won’t take off as nicely as when the soil temperature has a nice consistent warmth to it.”

The time frame between buying the plants and repotting or replanting it, isn’t too much of a concern, either.

Beenken said it doesn’t matter if customers wait a day to a couple weeks to replant, as long as the greenery gets adequate lighting and moisture, it will survive just fine.

It is important for gardeners to make sure they are attentive while the root system of the plant takes hold, though.

“This can take six to eight weeks before it’s actually rooted in good and it’s gonna be pulling in it’s own moisture,” Beenken said.

Something to watch for is if the plant tends to weep on a hot day, as this is a sign that it is not getting enough water. She recommends daily waterings.

Holly Beenken, owner of Garden Diva Design Studio in Hayward, stocks the Proven Winners brand of flowers in her greenhouse. – Kelly Wassenberg/Albert Lea Tribune

“It’s better to do a nice long, deep watering versus very frequent, quick waterings,” she said, noting that the best times to water is earlier in the morning or later in the evening, as it will encourage a nice, deep root system.

After the six- to eight-week period is over, it’s OK to move to watering the plant every other day and slowly tapering waterings down. 

Another tip she gives gardeners is to not be shy with hardwood mulch — especially around trees and shrubs.

“That keeps you away from it with your mower and it also holds in moisture and helps regulate the soil temperature,” she said.

During the winter months mulch also acts as an extra layer of insulation. She suggests throwing extra leaves and mulch around tender plants, ones that seem weak or may be experiencing their first winter.

Beenken, who has a degree in environmental design and horticulture, can make recommendations to customers who need a little more assistance in deciding what will work best for their particular situation and welcomes the opportunity to help customers try something new and unique. 

“We typically like to get in things that are a little more unusual, that you might not see elsewhere,” she said of the items in her greenhouse. “We have a few new tropicals that we’re trying this year to interplant with some annuals that are good staples. We always try to get our Proven Winners in ’cause people love those. They are just always known for their blooms — how long they bloom, how bright they bloom, how big they get, so that’s a good variety that we always try to carry on hand.”

A new shrub she’s introducing customers to this year is a summer crush hydrangea.

“It’s a hot pink blossom for our zone, which typically if we get a hydrangea for our zone it’s usually gonna by a white or a soft pink or more of a periwinkle,” she said. “We never get that nice, vibrant hot pink, so I’m really excited about this variety for our zone. It’s hardy. It will come back every year.”

Beenken and her staff will also help customers who would like to get creative with their potted plants. Instead of the traditional potted plant pairings, she encourages gardeners to add an annual or perennial to a tropical plant, tree or shrub. She urges gardeners to create something fun and unique by mixing different textured and colored plants that have the same lighting and watering requirements.