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Like many area businesses and organizations, Longfellow's Garden Center in Centertown was forced to put things on hold as a result of the coronavirus pandemic last year.

The garden center's annual open house event didn't end up taking place in 2020. This year, though, it's back.

The event is slated to take place this weekend, Friday through Sunday, with workshops and classes on the calendar for Saturday and Sunday. Other features include activities for children, specials that will run through Sunday, refreshments and drawings.

It will be somewhat of a return to normalcy after a whirlwind 2020.

"There was so much uncertainty (last year)," Alice Longfellow, former owner and now Garden Center Manager, said. "You couldn't tell which end was up, and so many businesses were closed, and they (were trying) to determine who's essential and who's not. People were coming to the garden center because there was nothing they could do besides be in their own backyard."

Regardless of the forced open house cancellation and the many months of uncertainty starting last spring, Longfellow said seeing so many faces seek solace at Longfellow's during that time was an unexpected positive.

Both old and new faces found themselves at Longfellow's last year; Longfellow said it was a pleasure to see first-time gardeners paying the business a visit, as well as some familiar faces returning to gardening after some time away.

"For me, personally, that's what I was excited about," Longfellow said. "I think everybody should garden. I think that keeps you in touch with the world and everything around you. It keeps you grounded, no pun intended, so I always love it when people either learn how or go back to gardening."

That renewed — or budding — interest is something Longfellow said from an industry standpoint she would expect to continue this year. That can only serve as a benefit with the open house on the horizon this weekend, Longfellow said.

Being an event that attracts larger crowds, even with social distancing or face mask use taken into account, it would have been difficult to justify hosting the event last year as many other events throughout the area canceled and elements of the pandemic remained an unknown to the public, she said. Getting back to it, Longfellow said, will be welcome; it will be a chance for people to get together and celebrate gardening.

One added benefit for this year's rendition of the open house is the added expertise of employees with All-n-One Outdoor Solutions of Jefferson City. Longfellow's merged with the company in March of last year, just before the pandemic began grinding life to a halt. She said a year down the line, the shift has ended up as an "awesome experience."

"(All-n-One) gained a garden center and source of plant material for their landscaping. I gained a larger company that could absorb my employees," Longfellow said of the merger. "Nobody left, nobody lost their job. Everybody has gained, because now there's opportunity to change jobs, move up, learn more, (All-n-One) has been really good about employee education. There's just been a lot of opportunities, and the company is going to continue to grow."

With All-n-One managers now a resource, Longfellow said this year's open house will include the opportunity to visit with some of the company's industry experts on irrigation and lawn care; one class on the schedule for the weekend is on DIY landscaping, providing further opportunity to go in-depth.

All told, there will be a bit of something for everyone, Longfellow said, between workshops and activities for younger attendees.

"This is meant to be a family event, so bring the family," Longfellow said.

To view the full schedule of classes and workshops during the open house, as well as promotions running through the weekend, visit longfellowsgarden.com/event/spring-open-house-preview.

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