Five Cool Places to Start Planning Your Garden

by Carrie Havranek

The seed catalogs have arrived. The groundhog has declared, in his own way, that we won’t be stuck with a terrible, unending winter. Sometime in March, the asparagus will start arriving in supermarkets from destinations in United States within a 400 mile radius, as opposed to halfway across the country or out of the country altogether. This means, yep, spring’s coming. Here are five cool places that will help you start planning and start digging–once all this snow melts, of course.

1. Dan Schanz Greenhouses, Allentown and Bethlehem. This is one place you don’t want to miss–it’s a Lehigh Valley institution for a reason. The cut flowers come in a dizzying array of colors and aromas. If you want a cool heirloom tomato plant to start off your garden, this is your place. If you want people who can answer your gardening questions, this is your place.

2. Nature Nook, Easton. If you didn’t know it was here, you wouldn’t know it was here. No, that’s not a Zen thing, but the very excellent folks behind this great shop really know their stuff. Many years ago they moved from their old location on 2nd Street in Easton to bigger digs at 6th street. Seek them out for not only things to help your garden and to decorate it, little bonsai trees, and more. When I lived downtown, I used to always see people going in there with kids and coming out with a small animal for a first pet.

3. The Bird House, Bethlehem. Birds can make a tremendous difference to your garden and your backyard. The Bird House sells some beautiful houses, feeders, and the like, many of them made from recycled materials and here in Pennsylvania. There’s even such a thing as squirrel-resistant bird feed; who knew? The Bird House sells it.

4. Neighbors Home and Garden, Hellertown. This well-loved garden center in Hellertown has been serving the area for years and has been recognized as one of the country’s top 100 garden centers. Not sure what to plant or when? They can tell you. Want to do a little armchair daydreaming about a garden? Their web site has a searchable plant database. They also have a sizeable array of patio furniture, bird baths, and just about anything else you can think of for your yard.

5. Penn State Cooperative Extension. This is more of a resource than a place per se (although there are offices in Northampton and Lehigh counties, for starters), and it’s full of good people who can help you plant the right flowers, plants, perennials, herbs, shrubs, trees, and the like for our zone. There are all kinds of great links on backyard composting, how to get a home soil test kit, and a way to submit queries to their master gardeners, who write blogs for the Morning Call. It’s a non-biased, research-based resource, courtesy of Penn State University.

Carrie Havranek is a writer in Easton who wants to get a plot at Lafayette’s community organic garden this year.

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