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Prairie Gardener: Tour of Bachman's flagship garden center was high point of recent Twin Cities tour

RICHFIELD, Minn. - The switch from winter to spring rarely goes smoothly, and this year is no exception. So as we say goodbye to March today, we can begin to prepare in earnest for not only the coming Easter-Passover observances, but also spring.

RICHFIELD, Minn. - The switch from winter to spring rarely goes smoothly, and this year is no exception. So as we say goodbye to March today, we can begin to prepare in earnest for not only the coming Easter-Passover observances, but also spring.

March is a perfect time to take a winter get-away. So mid-month meant a two-day bus tour to the Twin Cities for the Prairie Gardener. Events included seeing a performance of the new Irving Berlin-based musical "Easter Parade" at the Chanhassen, Minn., Dinner Theater, sampling chocolates at the Abdullah's candy factory in Eden Prairie, Minn., and touring the Bachman's flagship garden center in Richfield. Our group also took in the Old Log Theatre comedy of "Over the Tavern," also in Chanhassen. About 18 of the 45 whom took the Fargo-based Judy's Leisure Tour were from the Grand Forks area. Marian Zimmerman of Fargo was escort. The only downside was coming home to an ice-coated car and 6-inches of snow. But that's March.

Bachman's was a high point for not only the Prairie Gardener, but also others on the tour. Greenhouse crews were moving plants, including lots of palms, to the downtown Minneapolis Macy's store for the opening of the annual Macy's-Bachman's flower show, continuing through April 7. The theme is "Gadina Africana" so you can get a taste of the Dark Continent without leaving Minneapolis.

Besides the usual spring-blooming plants, there were the budding Easter lilies waiting their turn on center stage. Besides the typical white lilies, expect to see some Stargazer lilies this holiday season as well. These also can be forced; the petals are a soft pink, highlighted with dark, rich pink and freckled.

A spokesperson for Bachman's suggests when selecting an Easter lily, look for a plant that has strong stems and lots of foliage. The buds should all be well developed and some of the flowers may already be open. Sometimes the pollen sacs have been removed to prevent stains. Lilies prefer strong light and moist soil. The flowers will look their best if plants are kept where the temperatures range from 55-65 degrees Fahrenheit.


Tour members got a chance to see floral arrangements being prepared. Flowers are brought in from around the world to create these outstanding pieces. Bachman's has a quarantine area; trucks and refrigeration to keep the flowers at peak condition. In the retail store area, there was an outstanding display of spring bulbs, greenery and orchids. It was hard to finally leave the store and climb back on the bus.

Top retailer

Today, Bachman's is one of the largest floral and garden retailers in the country. It has six full-service floral, home and garden centers in the Twin Cities area along with a garden and landscape center in Farmington, Minn.

Bachman's story begins in 1885 when newlyweds Henry and Hattie Bachman purchased four acres of farmland on what is today Lyndale Avenue in Richfield. The farm would expand to 44 acres and the family to five sons and three daughters. Each of the sons had a bench in the greenhouse to grow vegetables. However, son Albert grew carnations and gradually the farm's production shifted from vegetables to flowers. The Lyndale store has more than 200,000 square feet of retail space and features a gift area, fresh cut-flowers, green and blooming plants, season and holiday accents, seeds, garden annuals, perennials, trees, shrubs and a wide range of lawn and garden products.

But Bachman's with its higher costs is facing fierce competition from other outlets in the floral business. The solid purple color long associated with Bachman shoppers has been replaced with a white and purple-stripped version. Even the once purple delivery trucks have taken on a chartreuse hue as well as purple and white strips. The update is said to encourage younger shoppers.

Gardening event

The pre-registration deadline for Gardening Saturday, April 14, is April 10. The $25 nonrefundable fee includes a buffet lunch. After that date, the fee goes up to $30. Make checks payable to Grand Forks County and mail to NDSU Extension Service, Attn: Gardening Saturday, 1521 S. Fourth St. S302, Grand Forks, N.D. 58201-4715. Info: (701) 780-8229.

Garden retreat


Two days of fellowship and gardening are underway at a gardening retreat, concluding today, at the Red Willow Bible Camp near Binford, N.D. Speakers include Gwen Hoverson, Glenfield, N.D., owner of the Highway 200 greenhouse, and experienced gardeners, Nancy Anderson and Sue Olson. Hopefully, they will have a repeat of the event in 2008.

Koehler is the Herald's garden columnist. Send garden questions to him in care of the Grand Forks Herald, Box 6008, Grand Forks, ND 58206-6008.

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