Better Late Than Never: Spring Has Sprung—Finally—in Minnesota…

By Lavender April 24, 2008

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Home & Yard Blvd. Section

“I’m a scientist and an artist at the same time. I create new things.” That’s how Robert Quene describes his eight-year-long tenure as a horticulturist at Orchids, Limited, a specialty store with an international customer base. The balance between science and art also applies to his hobby—which, naturally enough, is gardening.

Photo by Vicky Trattar

According to Quene, “When I pick out flowers for my garden, I always think of colors and shape and form—where you place the flowers and what colors are next to each other matters. At home, I just have fun with gardening. I’m a plant person.”

Quene discovered flowers the same way Mozart discovered music—early.

“I was 6 years old when I started my first garden,” Quene remembers. “You learn by doing it.”

Although Quene’s age made him exceptional, his interest in gardening is no exception. The reason for gardening’s larger and continued popularity is a verdant triumvirate, one local expert reports.

Gill Landis, Sales Marketing Manager at Dundee Nursery and Landscaping, a full-service garden center with multiple Twin Cities locations, states, “I think there are three basic things:

“One, it’s therapeutic. It’s all about sticking your hands in the dirt, and learning a little bit about Mother Nature. To me, it’s almost like a meditational thing. When you focus on what you’re doing, the things in your everyday life kind of disappear. It’s all about the moment.”

Second, many personal gardens lack such profundity…via carefully cultivated intention, as Landis notes: “There are the hobbyists who are really into gardening, and are really educated, and really into their plants.”

Third, of course, no American avocation would be complete if someone weren’t trying to trade on it, as Landis catalogs: “Lastly, there’s the homeowner. You live in Minnesota, and, so far, you’ve got nothing but cold. At this point, people are really anxious to be outside, to enjoy their house, and the beauty and value that color brings to it. Now is the time that it happens.”

One root that feeds each of these disparate priorities is inspiration.

“I think gardening is all about creativity,” Landis insists. “Creativity starts at the plant level. Every year, there are new varieties: nursery products and greenhouse products. Creativity starts with the new varieties, and how they overcome some of the shortcomings of existing plants.”

However, that’s not all.

“Once you introduce new varieties, then it’s all about the design of what you’re trying to achieve,” Landis explains

But shapes of the plants are the smallest of considerations, according to Landis. If done right, such tyro cultivation can reduce your house to its proper role—that of your garden’s biggest accessory.

“It’s all about color,” Landis enthuses. “You’ve got a garden, so you want to relate the colors to what else is growing in your garden, or to your house, or to what else is growing in the yard.”

Phalaenopsis Dancing Queen “Honey Dew”. Photo by Robert Jan Quene

Gardening has gotten so popular that it has sprouted its own vogues.

“The trend we’re seeing this year is ‘back to brights,’ where the past couple years have featured more natural colorations,” Landis relates. “As far as larger trends today, you have to look at people and their lifestyle. We sell a lot of preplanted planters. If you don’t have time to plant a garden, you can come in, and buy a premade planter for your patio or garden. Then, it’s only a matter of watering and fertilizing the product to keep it going. It’s about convenience, and the lifestyle that is out there today.”

These vogues look different from the vista of someone who mixes and matches mitochondria. Not surprisingly, control is a larger issue.

Quene declares with a chuckle, “We look at what’s out there on the market, yet at the same time, we try to create our own trends. We make things that are not out there. Then, if people see it and buy it, we’ve created a trend.”

Although every garden, regardless of its form, costs time and money, Quene emphasizes such investments reap a return that’s every bit as rich as it is personal.

“You have the pleasure of seeing yourself in bloom for the first time,” Quene shares. “You get to enjoy the beauty throughout the whole year.”

But what about Minnesota’s blossom-slaughtering winters? Quene remarks, “Then, you anticipate the blooming even more!”

Not just the gardener anticipates such awakenings. Landis believes that the biggest beneficiaries of such botany are the whole of Planet Earth generally and the Land of 10,000 Lakes particularly.

“Native plants are adapted to Minnesota,” Landis points out. “They have a deeper root system. Our work is so much about land conservation and water conservation. People really need to understand the value of plant material in their state and in the world. Maintaining a garden helps preserve the environment for future generations. In the long run, we gardeners are making the world a better place.”

Dundee Nursery and Landscaping Gardening
16800 Hwy. 55, Plymouth
(763) 559-4016
gardencenter@dundeenursery.com

Orchids, Limited
4630 Fernbrook Ln. N., Plymouth
(763) 559-6425
orchids@orchidweb.com

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