The growing season is here and along with it some pretty nice weather. Now the planning begins to get ready and head off to the nurseries to find out what kinds of treasures await us. My lists are complete but that does not mean I won’t find something out there that I will just have to have for the garden.

To some, going to the nurseries can be a daunting task. Just walking into a greenhouse and being exposed to hundreds of different plant materials can be enough to create a little anxiety and make us run for the hills! That is where lists of what you want and need come in handy. These simple lists streamline your shopping and make for a much better experience. If you can’t find what you are looking for, simply ask a salesperson where to find certain items or even if they carry them. It will definitely save you a lot of time and energy devoted to your search.

I’m one of those people who makes a multitude of lists and then takes off only to find I have forgotten them at home. For the most part, I have memorized what is on those lists as I have been planning for months. My mind actually thinks everything is planted by now but that is not the reality of the situation.

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My first trip to the nurseries usually is just to walk around. I love to look to see what is new for the year, check out plant health and what the prices are going to be for the season. With this information, I can make the best purchases in the most economical way. It is a good time to ask questions and do some comparison shopping along the way before you make your final decision and make that ultimate purchase for the garden.

Remember that most plants should have a plant tag attached to them which indicates what the name is and what the proper care is for planting. These tags have a wealth of information that will help you in your year of gardening. Choose according to your design requirements and you will not fail. Don’t be pulled in by the beautiful photo alone but make sure it is right for your needs.

Walking outside the nurseries, you will also find an entire array of trees, shrubs and perennials. These, too, may overwhelm the average buyer but keep in mind that these items are usually purchased in fewer quantities as they return every year and become larger in time. These are what I call the more permanent purchases but make sure you get what you want as it will be in the yard for many years. Some of these items even come with a seasonal or long-term guarantee but check with the retailer to make sure as this may be an important part of your buying experience.

I like to shop at numerous nurseries as everyone seems to carry something different. I definitely do not want to miss out on something new and unusual as these could be the highlight to this year’s garden focus. I also think it is a good idea to support your local nurseries first and if you can’t find what you are looking for to also check out businesses in your surrounding community. I can’t even count the number of nurseries I make purchases at but I am always pleased with the final outcome.

Locally we have Country Gardens Floral and Nursery on 10th Street along the river, which offers an abundance of plant materials. They have been around for a long time and can always seem to assist you with your questions. We also have Flower Power across from the Cash Wise Foods parking lot with mostly annuals, perennials and gorgeous hanging baskets. They dabble in a few trees and shrubs too that might hold your interest.

There are also some mass-market nurseries in town that are fun to go through, however, they tend to carry some items that are not hardy for our area. Sometimes they have perennials mislabeled and you may not always get what you are looking for, however, this is not always the case. I tend to know many of the plant materials so usually know if the plant is what the label says. The consumer just needs to be a little more diligent in purchases but these places can be great for bargains.

You will find me at every one of these places in town and more. I do not stop shopping the nurseries until I have either run out of planting space or have run out of funds. Sorry to say, usually the funds run out faster than my space, but I am always thankful for credit!

Start your gardening season off right and begin your search for those plants that you want this year. Check out all your local nurseries and make it the most fun experience possible. After all, this is gardening and it should always be fun and stress free!! Now, if we could just get a little rain added into the month and we will be good to go!

To read more columns written by John Zvirovski, click here.