Minot Park District horticulture department seeing green

April and now May showers are said to bring flowers and the horticulture department at the Minot Park District is certainly holding to that adage.

Steve Wharton, horticulturist with the park district, said he is much happier to see the rain than snow. He’s also looking forward to the sun and warmer temperatures so that they can dry the frost out of the ground and make it look more like spring outside. Wharton said they have seeded the grass several times since the flood in 2011 and the rain has been beneficial to that, then the week of Memorial Day and the first week of June the fertilizing will start.

“The rain can make it difficult on the maintenance end and set spring projects back if we get too much so I hope to not end up in that situation,” Wharton said. However, there is plenty to do indoors in the greenhouses when it’s a rainy day, he added, giving them the opportunity to finish the last of the transplanting, getting things potted and ready to move outdoors. “Right now, I think we’re having an average spring,” Wharton said. “The rain (this year) might be lighter.”

Wharton said he is

concerned with how cool the temperatures have been, though. “We need the sun to warm up the ground.” It won’t be known how rough this past winter has been on the plants until later, he added, and will have to see how things come up or if they are slower than usual. “We’re most concerned about the newer plants planted since the flood.” The excessive cold is not good for plants that were already stressed from flood recovery, either, Wharton said. It will be a few years to see how the plants coped during that time.

With the turf grass at the baseball fields, Wharton said early indications show that it came through the winter really well and the fields are holding up with spring baseball. The soccer complex has had water issues due to the high water table and drainage issues, he added. “Hopefully this moisture will soak into the ground and do what it needs to do,” Wharton said. Next week’s temperatures are so far looking to be warm and dry, he thought.

The planting season for Wharton and his staff starts based off when the last average frost date was and typically aim for the week of Memorial Day and the first week of June. They watch the weather and temperatures, he said, and may be able to get some perennials planted outside soon. “We’ll continue to work on flood recovery projects all summer long.”

The horticulture and forestry departments have been and will be working side-by-side on landscaping projects so that they can complete them in a timely fashion, Wharton said. They also will be finishing some buildings at Roosevelt Park Zoo and once those are completed, some landscaping will need to be done, he continued. Additionally, they are working with the zoo to see what plants will be needed for the aviary, Wharton added. “We’re excited to see that building come to shape.” The plan is to have the zoo projects complete by late summer.

“We have a lot on our platters in the areas where building is going on,” Wharton said. “The staff is excited to be a part of it and see how it’s taking shape.”

With the rain that has been falling, Wharton said he and his staff haven’t been able to start planting as quick as they would like. It will probably be middle to late May before they can take care of areas in need, he added. The rain has slowed down the landscaping projects, but Wharton said they should be able to catch up if the weather turns nicer.

In the greenhouses, the cooler weather and lack of sunshine has caused plants and flowers to not grow as fast, Wharton said. “But a week of warm temperatures will help us catch up.” Some adjustments may have to be made, especially with the zoo construction, he added, but so far projects are on schedule. “We’re on top right now and we know that the weather always plays a role, but we’ll be good at the end of the day.”

Wharton said it’s a really busy time for the planting season. “We’re really excited with the planting,” he added. “People will see more and more things back in certain areas. We’re moving up and onward.”