This article is presented in partnership with Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Spring is in full swing and color is popping up everywhere. Since COVID-19 has us in stay-at-home mode, getting your gardens up and blooming is something you can enjoy. If your thumb isn’t so green or some fresh ideas are in order, these horticulture spots have suggestions and helpful tips to get you gardens in the green. Depending on your needs, some will deliver. Considered essential businesses under the Columbia/Boone County stay-at-home order issued in late March, each garden center has confirmed being open for business. Please contact in advance before travel as some have limited hours.

CMSE Giving Gardens, 4040 S. Bearfield Road, features greenhouses with a mission. For 10 years, this organization has provided employment opportunities for people with disabilities in the Columbia area to work alongside a professional horticulture staff. The nursery offers houseplants, shrubs, vegetables, herbs, flowers and succulents, along with classes on succulents and fairy gardens. The greenhouse staff shares their knowledge freely outside of the classroom as well, whether you’re looking for something for that shady spot in your yard or for a creative novelty.    

South of Columbia at Helmi’s Gardens, 7201 S. Nursery Road, the resident green thumb, Helmi Sheely, says there are no bad questions about growing things. Each yard, garden or planter is unique. The plants offered there range from Missouri-hardy outdoor plants and tropical houseplants to trendy plants. You also might run into some of the resident pets—cats, rabbits, parakeets, ducks and even a peacock. The sweet aroma of citrus trees fills the air when they’re getting ready to put on fruit, and if you’re lucky—or maybe unlucky—you might even get a sniff of the resident corpse flower, amorphophallus titanum, if it’s in bloom later in the year. Of course, to the folks at Helmi’s, finding a plant their customers can succeed with is important, and they strive to find the perfect plant for each green thumb that comes in, no matter the hue.

The red barns at Strawberry Hill Farms
, 3770 E. Hwy. 163, are bursting with plants for home and garden. Opening each year at the onset of spring, 28 separate greenhouses comprising two acres of lush foliage await you there. The growers at this family-owned farm have been preparing all winter to see their favorite event happen. They love to see things to fruition: from seed or cutting to maturation to someone taking the plant home. That is what has kept them growing for 40 years. They sell plant seeds, vegetable starter plants, bedding plants, hanging baskets and more—everything you need to beautify your porch and flowerbeds. There is also a wide array of succulents on hand for potting and planting.

Giving your yard, garden or planters a new look, something fresh for the season is what the staff at Superior Garden Center, 2450 Trails West Ave., loves to do. In addition to a wide variety of garden vegetables, seeds, annuals, tropical and houseplant options, Missouri-hardy trees and shrubs, many of which are grown on a local off-site farm, are their specialty. At this retail garden center, there are six outdoor acres with nine greenhouses for you to browse to find the perfect size and shape tree, shrub or perennial to fill any spot in your yard. Whether you’re doing the work or they are, the garden center offers delivery, planting and custom container-design services along with bulk products like fertilizer, mulch and gravel to make sure your project is complete.

The recent partnership of Wilson’s Garden Center and Fulton-based Bluebird Composting at 4280 Hwy. 763 (Rangeline Road) doesn’t mean a hiccup in the service to both companies’ clients. While officially, the garden center location will now be Bluebird Composting, Wilson’s will still provide a wide selection of locally grown produce, vegetable seeds and plants, herbs and other household plants just as it has done for the last 46 years. The garden center will carry more landscaping materials like compost, topsoil, Super raised-bed mix and mulch at the acre storefront. Though shifting focus a little, the passion remains for helping customers, whether they are seasoned or first-time gardeners, and pointing them in the right directions for the plants they need for their projects.

So, get outside and get a little sunshine and fresh air!
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