four blooming hyacinths, forced bulbs

I’m one of the last people to complain about winter. Minnesota has four seasons, and I enjoy every one of them.

Still, it’s fun to dream about the time just two short months from now when the snow will (most likely) be gone and the first flowers will be poking out of the ground.

These hyacinth bulbs — a Christmas gift from my mom — make me antsy to start planting seeds indoors for our 2014 garden, though it’s much too early for that. I’ll need to be content to study our gardening books for now.

Linder’s garden center closed this fall after more than 100 years in St. Paul.

Plants growing in a garden: coreopsis, maroon coral bells, candytuft, wild geranium.

I won’t pretend that this is the only place I shop. In the Twin Cities area we’re fortunate to also have Gertens, Bachman’s, new-to-me Prairie Restorations in Princeton, the annual Friends School Plant Sale, and many more that I have yet to explore.

But this was my year-round neighborhood nursery.

Flowers growing in a garden: indigo, a single yellow flower, New England aster, pink turtlehead.

We received Linder’s gift cards as wedding and Christmas presents, and spent quite a bit of our own money there too. I never could seem to remember to bring back the empty pots or the carry-out boxes.

Five cardboard trays and two stacks of empty plastic plant pots.

We mostly bought perennials, trending the last year toward all natives.

Flowers in a garden: anemone, prairie smoke, evening primrose.

Also a couple of annuals each spring.

A pot with pink, purple, and yellow flowers; red cardinal climber flower vining up a trellis; orange marigold.

Grapes we planted just this summer.

A small grape plant next to a trellis.

And tomatoes: the first year we were married, we bought two six-packs, not realizing just how many tomatoes that would produce!

Tomato plants, small tomato growing on the plant, a row of various shades of tomatoes on a windowsill.

Seeds to grow our own annuals and perennials.


Not to mention seed for our “birdfeeder.”

A chipmunk with stuffed cheeks, sitting on the edge of a birdfeeder.

We also took advantage of their classes. A year ago we attended a fall workshop to learn how to deal with Japanese beetles, and early this spring took a “From Seed to Planting” seminar. We participants got an impromptu tour of the greenhouses to see all the newborn seedlings. By the next day, I was already looking forward to taking that tour again next spring.

Trays and trays of seedlings in a greenhouse.

Goodbye to the 53 flower marts in grocery store and mall parking lots around the Twin Cities. Goodbye to fun fundraising opportunities for nonprofits, which received 15% of the pre-tax purchase amount their supporters spent on spring flowers. Goodbye to Lil Linder’s cheerful voice on the radio commercials, and the “Get growing now with Linder’s” jingle. Goodbye to dashing in for last-minute Christmas gifts. I already miss you.

The sign outside Linder's showing the messages 'Store Closed' and 'Thank you for the memories.'

With snow scheduled to bring an end to autumn — at least temporarily — I decided to get up early to head to Jensen Lake for one more colorful sunny morning.

Alas, a deer hunt in Lebanon Hills Regional Park meant no trip to Jensen today. But Eagan’s Thomas Lake Park was not far away.

oaks at Thomas Lake Park

The morning was crisp after a thick frost, but the oak trees couldn’t be more beautiful.

oaks at Thomas Lake Park

A few were still green, but the rest are all shades of orange, red, and brown, reminding me of crayon names: maize, chestnut, copper, maroon, goldenrod, sepia, tan, yellow orange, orange yellow, mahogany, brick red, and even more colors that haven’t been turned into crayons yet.

oaks at Thomas Lake Park

I also have a memory of a color called “burnt umber,” but I must be combining “burnt sienna” and “raw umber.”

oaks at Thomas Lake Park

It was worth staying at work an hour later than normal to make up for such a gorgeous morning in the park.

oaks at Thomas Lake Park

> More photos from Thomas Lake Park

Haunted house full of goblins, ghosts and other ghouls

This paper haunted house is my favorite Halloween decoration. As a kid, I made sure it was taped to my bedroom door every year. It’s a spooky fun “I spy” game: count the number of green goblins, ghosts, jack-o-lanterns, spiderwebs, owls, and eyes.