Minnesota Day

Stone in the shape of the state of Minnesota

Did you know Minnesota has its own day? It does! Today, March 1st, is Minnesota Day.

Let’s celebrate the state of Minnesota and the contributions to horticulture, gardening and the enjoyment of nature made by the organizations and people of our state.

As a nature lover, I am very happy to have grown up in Minnesota. I truly think we live in one of the most beautiful areas of the country. Yes, Colorado has its mountains and the coastal states have the oceans. But we have an incredible variety of nature to enjoy. We are one of the few states with four distinct terrains or biomes, ranging from hills and prairies to lakes and rivers. And all are within a day’s driving distance from any part of the state. In fact, less than 60 miles from Rochester, there are half a dozen state parks, each with its unique flora and fauna. Not that we must travel to enjoy nature. We can create a ‘park’ within our own outdoor spaces whether we have a yard or a patio. And many of us do. We Minnesotans love to be outdoors whether we are going on a trip or puttering around our own backyard.

But back to our lovely state.  Did you know that the University of Minnesota has been breeding apple trees for over a hundred years? They have introduced 18 different varieties including ‘Honeycrisp’, ‘Haralson’, ‘Snowsweet’, ‘Honeygold’ and ‘Zestar!’.

Honey Crisp Apple Haralson Appple Snowsweet Apple Honeygold apple Zestar! apple

Growing up, we had a ‘Haralson’ in our yard and to me, this is what an apple should taste and feel like. Loads of flavor and super crisp!

The university doesn’t stop at apple trees either. They have breeding programs for many different fruits and ornamental plants. Including the MN Strain Redbud, a great ornamental tree.

MN Strain Red-bud

They are one of the first trees to bloom in the spring. Before the leaves emerge, the branches become covered in bright pink flowers and they hold their color for almost 3 weeks. During the summer, those same branches become covered in beautiful heart-shaped green leaves.

Even in the winter they provide interest in the landscape with their arching, somewhat contorted growth habit.

You don’t need to work at a university to be a plant breeder. Some beautiful perennials have been bred here in Minnesota including one of the Proven Winners daylilys, ‘Storm Shelter’. It was bred by Karol Emmerich of Springwood Gardens.

What a striking flower!

Hibiscus ‘Cristi’ was created right here in Rochester by Hugh and Ruth Cocker and was introduced by Bailey’s Nursery.

In August it becomes covered in ruby-red flowers that are 6-8″ across. Did you know that even though perennial hibiscus looks like tropical flowers, they are a north American native plant?

What is your favorite part of the wonders of Minnesota?

Stone in the shape of the state of Minnesota

Written by

Cathy Maxson is Sargent's Gardens Perennial Growing manager. In addition to making sure Sargent's grown plants thrive, she enjoys growing in her own garden, canning fruits and vegetables, traveling, and walking her dogs.