Home & Garden

Winter Garden Fair previews flowers, spring planting

Linn County Master Gardeners offer recommendations

Planters of pansies were started from plugs at Pierson's Flower Shop and Greenhouses in Cedar Rapids on Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
Planters of pansies were started from plugs at Pierson's Flower Shop and Greenhouses in Cedar Rapids on Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

With winter weather advisories and ice storms in the offing, the only thing keeping this Iowan going is thoughts of spring flowers and summer vegetables fresh from the garden.

And this is the perfect time for those thoughts, according to Linn County Master Gardeners. The group of volunteer gardeners are hard at work planning their annual Winter Gardening Fair. The annual day of all things green features workshops and classes on everything from the practical (seed starting at home, container gardening and deer-friendly plantings) to the whimsical (plants of the Bible, how to create wind chimes and designing gardens that shine by moonlight) and everything in between.

As part of the fair’s lineup, Linn County Master Gardener Deb Walser is working on her presentation of her favorite annuals and perennials of 2018. To come up with her list, she combines internet research with her own experiences, documenting what has worked well in her own garden.

For those not sure what to pick up when they get to a greenhouse this spring, she said the “Proven Winners” brand, in their distinctive white pots, are usually a good bet. They are sold at most box stores and hardware stores. Most of the smaller, local greenhouses, like Pierson’s Flower Shop and Greenhouses in Cedar Rapids or Culver’s Garden Center and Greenhouse in Marion, will have their own suggestions and breeds of flowers, along with knowledgeable staff to help customers plan the perfect mix of flowers.

For those who want to dream of flowers now, here are some of her 2018 suggestions:


  • Chantilly Lace Aruncus
  • Pink Lemonade Baptisia
  • Stand By Me Clematis
  • Red Hot Vanilla Coreopsis
  • Santa Fe Echinacea
  • Tuscan Gold Heliopsis False Sunflower
  • Storm Shelter Hemerocallis
  • Wildberry Heuchera
  • Cherry Choco Latte Hibiscus
  • Waterslide Hosta
  • Blue Paradise Ornamental Grass
  • Midnight Masquerade Penstemon
  • Leading Lady Orchid Monarda
  • Cat’s Pajamas Nepeta
  • Cloudburst Phlox
  • Bumblesnow Salvia
  • Lemonjade Sedum
  • Cutting Edge Tiarella
  • Wizard of Ahhs Veronica


  • Golden Butterfly Marguerite Daisies
  • Fireburst Bidens
  • Lady Godiva Orange Calendula
  • Crushed Crimson Dahlia
  • SeNorita and PequeNa Cleome
  • Royale Lantana
  • Mexican Heather
  • Double Moonglow Osteospermum
  • Red Hot Phlox
  • Deep Purple Salvia
  • Stormburst Verbena
  • Blue My Mind Evolvulus
  • Perfectly Pink Angelonia
  • Surefire Begonia
  • Petite Pink Gaura

If you go:

  • What: Winter Gardening Fair
  • Where: Kirkwood Community College, 6301 Kirkwood Blvd. SW, Cedar Rapids
  • When: 8:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. March 3
  • Cost: $59, which includes lunch
  • Find details and register online: extension.iastate.edu/linn/content/winter-gardening-fair or call (319) 377-9839.

l Comments: (319) 398-8339; alison.gowans@thegazette.com



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