Greetings, fellow gardeners! Welcome to Minnesota growing season 2014, our long-awaited reward for enduring the winter from you-know-what.

Saturday was inventory day in my garden. I walked from bed to bed, front to back, peering at the earth to see what was coming up. Things are clearly off to a very slow, late start, despite balmy summer-like temperatures on Easter Sunday. My peonies are mere nubs, like rosy pinky fingers poking their way through the dirt. My sedums, delphiniums and ligularia made it through the winter, sprouting tiny, but healthy-looking new foliage.

Other perennials -- hydrangeas and black-eyed Susans -- are still slumbering below the surface, but I have faith they'll make their presence known soon.

Plant experts I've talked to this spring don't expect heavy garden casualties, despite all the subzero temperatures we experienced during the winter months. That's because the garden gods blessed us with a thick and relatively early blanket of snow, Mother Nature's insulation. 

Minnesota-hardy plants should do just fine this growing season, although gardeners who experimented with borderline plants can expect to see some dieback.

If you have evergreens that are looking dry, brown and crispy, don't despair -- and don't prune just yet, caution tree experts. The condition is called winter burn, and there's a lot of it this spring. "We're seeing quite a bit of damage," says Jeffrey Johnson, woody plant specialist for the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. "Pines, in particular, took it hard, and also some of the spruce."

Brown needles won't rehydrate and turn soft and green, but new growth may still fill in. "Let spring do its thing," says Josh Plunkett, nursery inspector with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and co-author of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Trees and Shrubs."

So keep those pruning shears in the shed, for now, and concentrate on other garden tasks.

What's going on in your garden? Are plants coming up later than usual?