Ready, set, GARDEN!

Do you ever wonder how plants can grow so quickly and yet without making a noise? Spring somehow always catches me by surprise even though I’ve spent months waiting and yearning for its arrival. Day after winter day, the world is bleak and gray, and then one morning I step outside and find tulips and chives waiting in eager anticipation for me to round the corner and spot their extravagant green leaves, grown six inches overnight.

With the sudden advent of spring, comes also the realization that I must now spend time tending to my gardens. It’s hard work clearing away bag after bag of dried brown leaves and tangled stems. My back aches and my hair is filled with pine needles and maple dust, but it feels so good to be outside working again with sun overhead and crisp air in my lungs.

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Spring arrives stealthily, with a flash of green leaves and bright flowers.

This Saturday, from 9am-noon, volunteers will hit the streets of Stillwater to begin tidying-up raingardens around town so that they’ll continue to look good and function properly throughout the summer months (see Stillwater Raingarden Cleanup). Residents and local government partners have planted more than 100 raingardens over the past ten years to protect the St. Croix River and local lakes and streams from stormwater runoff pollution. These gardens help to beautify the city and keep our water clean. To join the fun, meet at Washington Square Park (Greely and Churchill) or Staples Park (Wilkins and Martha) at 9am. You can also go to to find guidance and resources for raingarden maintenance, as well as sign-up to “adopt” a raingarden in town.

During last year’s Stillwater Raingarden Clean-up event, teams of volunteers cleared out litter and old vegetation to get gardens ready for the spring.

Nearby in Woodbury, volunteers will be working to spruce up a large raingarden at Trinity Presbyterian (2125 Tower Dr.) from 1-3pm. To sign up as an individual or a group, go to No gardening experience necessary!

In the coming weeks, there will be several local plant sales as well. First up, the Trillium Chapter of the Perennial Garden Clubs of Stillwater will hold a sale on Saturday, May 18 from 8am-noon (601 Olive St. W). The sale will include perennials that pollinators love, as well as vegetables, annuals and herbs. Proceeds go towards beautification of a public garden across from Lowell Inn, scholarships for horticulture students, support for community garden projects, and pollinator protection activities.

On Sunday, May 19, Master Gardeners of Washington County will hold their annual plant sale from 11am-3pm at the Washington County Fairground. Shop from a huge selection of plants at bargain prices, including native plants, pollinator plants, plants for shade and sun, and vegetables. There will also be a Diagnostic Clinic from 10am-1pm where you can get expert advice on plant and gardening problems.

If you’re ready to start gardening, there are a number of local plant sales happening in May and early June.

If you need a little more time to get your yard ready before buying new plants, head to the Landscape Revival, Native Plant Expo and Market on Saturday, June 8, 9am-1pm at the Oakdale City Hall (1584 Hadley Ave N). The event will feature eight native plant retailers, all in one convenient location, along with info and resources from local conservation organizations including Humming for Bees, Master Gardeners – Monarchs & Milkweed, Neighborhood Greening, Pollinator Friendly Alliance, St. Paul Audubon Society, Washington Conservation District, and Wild Ones – Oak Savanna Chapter.

Shop for a variety of native plants at the Landscape Revival – June 1 in Shoreview and June 8 in Oakdale. Blazing star is one option that attracts monarch butterflies during the summer.