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LAFAYETTE, IN -- Nursery and greenhouse specialists in Northern Indiana are patiently waiting to welcome spring and all the gardening fervor that accompanies the season.

Bennett’s Greenhouse, at 3651 McCarty Lane, Lafayette, hosted a spring exposition on March 11-12, bringing in lecturers and plant specialists to help gardeners design and plan their gardens for the spring and summer.

This is the time of year where gardeners begin cleaning out their beds, laying mulch and preparing the soil for planting, said Tracy Howe, nursery supervisor at Bennett’s.

“People can be cleaning up their beds, clearing out debris and also cutting back perennials,” Howe said. “We are getting in all our mulch soon and it’s a good time to freshen up your beds.’

Howe said right now gardeners can plant trees, shrubs and pansies. Bennett’s is offering standard pansies as well as a cascading variety that waterfalls over edges and constraints.

Norway Gardens in Monticello is also selling pansies, one of the only flowering plants hardy enough to go in the ground this early, according to garden center manager Mary Ann Novack. She added that for certain plants gardeners could also begin seeding.

“People who like to do seeding of their own could begin now. They just need to be aware of the germination rate and how quickly the plants grow,” Novack said. “Some people start tomatoes now though. It’s too early for that.”

By the beginning of April, she added, the nursery will be pushing cold resistant crops like cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower.

Howe said come early spring Bennett’s will have vegetable crops ready too, including a new varietal of kale called Russian Red Kale.

Howe encouraged gardeners to come out to Bennett’s expo next weekend not only to take advantage of sales, but also to speak with experts who will be in attendance. Garden designers, organic soil specialists, landscapers and a bonsai tree specialist will take questions and conduct lectures.

Additionally, Howe said, Bennett’s will be previewing its latest piece of technology.

The greenhouse recently procured a  diagnostic system from Bonide. The computer, equipped with a microscope comment, allows customers to bring in diseased foliage which the system assesses and diagnoses. It can also identify bugs.

Early March is a good time to start making inventory and design decisions, Howe said, and the garden expo will afford people this opportunity while provided expertise to draw on.

“Right now is good prep time and gathering ideas for what you want to do and what you want to plant,” Howe said. “This weekend people be able to do this during our plant expo. You can bring in pictures and make plans.”

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