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Like a breath of spring: Garden events lure people outdoors

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Saturday, April 5, 2014, at 7:36 p.m.
  • Updated Saturday, April 19, 2014, at 8:59 p.m.


The first Saturday of April brought a fresh lease on life for people eager to embrace sunshine and warmer weather.

“We’re starting our vegetable garden this weekend,” Melissa Cox said at opening day of the Kansas Grown Farmers Market outside the Extension Center at 21st and Ridge Road.

Her husband, Adam, pulled a wagon carrying a cooler full of ice and two bison roasts, and it was topped with a flat of spinach, lettuce, kale and tomato plants. A bag of locally roasted coffee and fresh baguettes from Crust & Crumb were tucked in along the sides.

“We’re going to try to come more this year,” Melissa Cox said of the farmers market. “I come for the food. For the fresh produce and the healthier meats.”

As people got reacquainted with vendors and with Troubles the clown and his balloon creations after a long winter, one of the first garden parties of the year, the Tree Festival, was taking place inside the Extension Center. Seasonal greenhouses were opening across town, and children played in the bubbles and made fairy gardens at Botanica.

While it’s still too early to plant tomatoes, and most tulips are only starting to peek out of their sheaves of green, morning sunshine, cheery daffodils and an afternoon in the 60s beckoned people outdoors Saturday.

Rosarians pruning winter dieback off roses drew a circle of onlookers in the Extension Center’s gardens – and there’s a lot of dieback to prune off this year, rosarian Norma Kemp said.

Friday will mark the average date of the last spring frost – and there’s no frost in this week’s forecast. But there is a chance of rain.

“We need an inch of rain,” Cathy Brady of Brady Nursery said before leading a tour of the arboretum on the grounds of the Extension Center.

It’s been a good spring for daffodils, and there will be a daffodil show Saturday at the Minisa Park Shelter, 704 W. 13th St., from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Wichita Daffodil Society welcomes anyone to cut their own daffodils and enter them in the show – the only requirement is that you know the name of the cultivar. Entries will be accepted from noon to 4 p.m. Friday at the shelter. Entry and admission to the show are free.

The daffodils are the lead-up to what could be tulip peak next weekend.

Botanica is already anticipating it with a Tulips, Fairies & Friends festival that continues the next two Saturdays. A new mascot for Botanica’s Downing Children’s Garden – a whimsical butterfly in a costume created and worn by Neva Thiessen – greets children during the event, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and children have turned in suggestions for her name, which will be announced at noon next Saturday. There also will be tryouts that day for children 14 and under to become the voice of the mascot, from 3:30 to 5 p.m. The event is included in Botanica admission.

Another tulip festival will be at Bartlett Arboretum in Belle Plaine next weekend. Art at the Arb will be from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and April 13, and artists and musicians will be featured among the flowers. Admission is $5.

Back at the farmers market, Casey and Amanda Truelove were telling people about their CSA, Fiat Farms, which allows customers to invest $300 and then pick the produce they want from an online store to be delivered to Wichita from the farm over the summer. The money doesn’t have to be used all in the same year.

While the Trueloves took names for the CSA e-mail list, Casey said it was still a little early for many people to totally give in to the promise of summer.

Reach Annie Calovich at 316-268-6596 or acalovich@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @anniecalovich.

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