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ST. PAUL - One of the River City's urban gardens is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. The Saint Paul Hotel's urban oasis has become a must see stop especially during the summer season. We met horticulturalist Sara Orvik who shared some interesting insights and tips.

—The garden is a gift to the community. It was started 20 years ago as an urban oasis for neighboring employees, people who eat their lunch in Rice Park, wedding parties and prom goers who have taken pictures in the garden, as well as hotel and restaurant guests.

—The Saint Paul Hotel is the only hotel in Minnesota with a full-time horticulturalist. Sara Orvik has been planning, planting and tending to the garden for 15 of the garden's 20 years. During winter months, petite Sara is responsible for snow removal on the grounds.

—The hotel's garden includes compost that was created from the hotel's recycled waste.

Sarah's Tips For A Green Thumb

1. When designing your garden, consider sun exposure, plant height, bloom color, bloom fragrance, foliage texture and water requirements.

2. Fertilize annuals every other week if using a water soluble fertilizer, or once if you use a slow release granular fertilizer at planting time.

3. Deadhead-remove the spent flowers. This encourages the plant to produce more blooms marigolds, red salvia, and zinnia are a few plants that respond to deadheading.

4. Mulch. Mulching does three things. It helps keep weeds under control, helps keep moisture in the soil, and enhances the color of the plant blooms and foliage.

5. There are four gardening seasons in Minnesota, but many of us only recognize one or two of them. In the springtime, plant violas or pansies for early color. Then for summertime, plant summer annuals such as salvia, marigolds, petunias and alyssum. In the fall, add some mums, kale and asters. And, for wintertime, fill your outdoor pots with spruce tops and greens and hang garland on your fence. All are simple and enjoyable ways to garden.

6. Keeping your garden watered regularly is very important for good plant growth and health. Give your annuals a good soaking a few times a week, and your perennials a good soaking once or twice a week. The best time of the day to water is early morning.

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