Sage Advice from Local Nursery Owner

The sun is affectionately beaming, birds are practicing their scales, and once again it is nearing the time to begin a garden. 

In fact, if you want to plant early, that time is now. We sat down with Lynnette Shonnard, one of the owners of Shonnard’s Nursery, who said that because of the unpredictability of the weather, timing when you plant can be tricky. 

More tropical plants such as tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant may suffer if we have a cold night, according to Shonnard. Although using a garden blanket or putting plants in pots that can be moved indoors helps keep them toasty and minimizes frost damage. 

If the weather really seems a little thorny for your taste, there are still a plethora of other, more hardy plants like onions, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, and spinach. They’re all raring to get out there and grow. 

Gardening for Beginners 

If you are just beginning your gardening path and vegetables aren’t your thing, you may want to consider perennials, Shonnard said. They only need to be planted once and will return in full blooming glory every year. Annuals are also a good option, but they only live one season. 

As far as options go, the sky is the limit — unless you have a beanstalk.  

“This is the time of year when people are so anxious to get outside, and this is when we have inventory. We have plants,” Shonnard said.  

For new gardeners, Shonnard said what is helpful in determining what to plant is to have an idea of the setup you have and what you want your planting to look like. Pots on the porch? Landscaping? Raised beds? These details will help a plant specialist pick out what will work best for you. 

There is no one plant for beginners, rather, there are many plants, and some may thrive in your specific garden better than others. “What I always tell people is, you know, start small and be successful,” Shonnard said. “Take small bites, enjoy what you’re doing.”   

When asked about plants that were hard to grow, Shonnard laughed and said it was easier to talk about those that were less difficult because there are more of them.  However, the nursey does keep more high maintenance plants, and they “don’t push the hard-to-grows.”  

Not Into Veggies? 

If high stakes gardening is not your speed, perhaps watching the bees would suit you better. Asclepias — commonly known as milkweed, butterfly weed, fuchsias, and lavenders are among the ranks of pollinator-friendly plants. However, there are so many to choose from, Shonnard said, that it is more about selecting a plant that will work best for you. 

“So many plants, even though they may not be on a pollinator list, are great for just having more flowers for butterflies to zoom by or hummingbirds to try,” Shonnard said.  

It is important to note the conditions — such as light exposure — that these plants need beforehand to see if your space is going to get along well with them. 

Shonnard’s Nursery also has an entire section of plants native to Oregon, and they get four deliveries a week of houseplants as well as the periodic rare plant. Currently, Shonnard’s personal favorite plants include daphnes and daffodils, though the latter is planted in the fall.  

“You know, I just love fragrant flowers,” Shonnard said.  

She adds that it’s exciting to see everything in bloom. “That’s what I love about spring, is the opulence.”   

By: Hannah Ramsey 

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