Another weekend, another thunderstorm. The gardening season got off to a very soggy start last month when the GreenGirls annual plant swap was conducted under a downpour -- and a plastic tarp!
And the weekend rain has just kept on coming. But if it rains again tomorrow morning as forecasted, there might be a silver lining. Your local garden center might offer you a good deal on that shrub or flat of annuals you need to fill the holes in your garden.
Sunnyside Gardens in Minneapolis (http://sunnyside-gardens.com) has responded to the late and soggy spring with some short-term sales and specials -- such as $10 off a purchase of $25 or more -- so that a rainy day doesn't turn into a total wash-out, says owner Mike Hurley.
Garden centers want you buying now, before your enthusiasm for this year's garden season has been completely dampened. "The theory in our industry is that a late spring pushes into summer and produces pent-up demand," Hurley says. But weekend weather makes a big difference. "Now the kids are out of school, people are going to the lake on weekends, and pretty soon, it's the 4th of July," he says. "The casual gardeners lose interest."
Uncommon Gardens in Minneapolis (http://uncommongardens.com) has been offering Happy Hour Wednesdays, a two-hour special event (5:30-7:30 p.m.) with discounts of 40 percent, plus snacks and beverages. "We started that last year -- you have to be nimble," says owner Peggy Poore.
"People are a little behind this year, but it's not too late to plant. The plants have kept growing -- they're bigger now [than they were in May]. And the rain has made keeping the plants looking good a little easier," she says.
The wet spring is following a killer winter, plant-wise, which means gardeners have had to replace more plants than usual, Poore says. "People lost a lot of trees and shrubs. It was just brutal. We're selling more of those."
Gardeners also seem more comfortable spending money on their gardens this year, she says. "People are a little more confident about the economy, and they want to do stuff."
And wet weather has boosted demand for one product in a big way: "Rain barrels are selling like mad."
How about you? Are you gardening on a smaller scale this year -- because of the weather?