The display of blooming Prairie Smoke (Geum triflorum) has been long and incredible as spring moves along. Our native Prickly Pear (Opuntia humifusa) which survives our -30-degree winters is now sending out new pads and will eventually put forth its yellow blossoms. Meanwhile the prairie lands are deep in new grass after ample spring rains.
Although we had a bit of a relapse of winter outside, the greenhouses on the inside are very spring-like. One of our newest plant enthusiasts, Mamie, braved the white stuff outside to be here to nurture the green inside.
We are on the edge of April, the month when we hope to begin sending our “green” recruits to where they will be planted into waiting gardens.
We all appreciate the beauty of flowers as they grow and bloom, yet the seed from which they begin is truly a miracle. I am always amazed at the grandeur of the plants that grow from such small and unassuming kernels of life,
In the greenhouse, it is so good to have our good friends back in force, planting, watering, and keeping the greenhouse clean and organized. They ensure everything is running on schedule both in the office and in the growing areas as the spring plants are readied for the inevitable change of weather.
Still in the grip of winter, the days begin to lengthen. Beautiful frozen sunrises peer into the warm greenhouse oasis, where miniscule dots of green indicate emerging plants. Benches full of native plants hint at lots of transplanting soon to be done.
The newest member of the Glacial Ridge team, Nicole, has been busily planting hanging baskets. Nikki comes to us with a varied background in management and is excited to learn the greenhouse business from the ground up. She loves the outdoors and enjoys foraging for wild edibles. She also propagates praying mantises for her garden. We welcome her bright, cheerful attitude and upbeat enthusiasm as we all learn new things each year, producing a crop of beautiful plants.
Another morning of three suns. Those “sundogs” indicate extremely cold, sub-zero temperatures. The cold has brought a lot of ice to area lakes and many people are spending a lot of time on the ice. Unfortunately, some of our wildlife are turning into ice. It’s a mean business outside for our deer and pheasants.
Spending a few days in the Sonoran Desert in Arizona was exciting for a plant nerd. I never imagined there are so many different cacti. They are everywhere, even in the old gold mining town next to Superstition Mountain. Of course, there in the desert, an old friend genus, the Asclepias (milkweed) was present, reminding me of our native plants in Minnesota.
The swans are still here and swimming on the larger lakes, while ice fishermen are already out on some of the shallower lakes. The season of transition.
In the greenhouse we are also transitioning. Our main work area has been switched to LED lighting, a much more energy efficient option and our gas-powered forklift has been traded for an energy efficient electric forklift. Early winter ‘tis the season of change.
Bare trees, red sky in the morning is the warning, and the dog knows the best place is to be stretched out on his rug. It’s mid-November. Sometimes its gradual, this year its abrupt- green one day, white the next.
Although it came remarkably late, we experienced our first hard, killing frost the other night. Our annual flowers have mostly turned black, yet some remnants of summer remain. Broccoli blooms crown the still-green plants with meals of fresh broccoli still on the plants. Beautiful, hardy, red lettuce can still be picked and peas still bloom, but there is little chance they will mature.
Many thousands of native, perennial plants are now snuggled into cold-frames next to greenhouses. These will soon be insulated and covered to protect them from winter. Hopefully they will re-sprout next spring and bloom.
Gene R. Stark
A teacher, farmer, trapper, and greenhouse grower. He writes about the outdoors and the people and culture of rural America..