There's a lot of new growth underway at Red Oak Garden Center & Landscaping (www. redoakgardencenter.com). New owners LuAnn and Larry Fransen took over the former Garden Market late last spring and have spent the off-season remodeling the store, adding a new garden path, interactive children's garden and play area and a "Creation Station" for making your own container gardens.

Larry Fransen grew up in the business (his parents operated Fransen Nursery in south Minneapolis in the '50s and '60s) and studied landscape architecture before switching to a career in commercial real estate. "Gardening and landscaping have always been my avocation," he said. "Now it's come full circle."

Red Oak is a full-service garden center, with a wide selection of trees and shrubs. "We focus on Minnesota-hardy plants, with the exception of the tropicals," he said, which they also carry. The center also offers a garden hardscape, including fountains, statuary, pavers, birdbaths and garden art.

Red Oak Garden Center will celebrate its grand opening on Saturday and Sunday. Red Oak is located at 4100 Steiner St., St. Bonifacius, 952-446-8100.

KIM PALMER

Go native

A native plant garden requires less water, deadheading and fertilizing and attracts birds and butterflies. Learn how to create your own easy-care native plant beds at "Native Plants in the Garden," a two-part Minnesota Landscape Arboretum class taught by Douglas Owens-Pike, an expert in local native plant landscapes.

The morning session is an introduction to a range of Minnesota native plants including the burning bush, blazing star and turtlehead, that offer all-season interest to a garden. The afternoon covers selecting native plants for your site and students can bring sketches or photos of their yard. The classes are April 24 in the Snyder Building, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, Chaska. Each session costs $30 for members and $40 for nonmembers. To register, call 952-443-1422 or go to www.arboretum.umn.edu.

LYNN UNDERWOOD