Sandy’s Back Porch garden center in Belleville was buzzing with customers Monday afternoon when I stopped by. The interior has a new layout, with a former greenhouse attached to the shop now the place to pick up all kinds of plant hangers and garden accessories. In the main part of the shop is a giddying collection of giant metal whirligigs that in any garden would look like a work of art. Some look like curved fan blades when they spin, while others are colorful baubles that rotate and remind me of prisms when they’re moving. Heights range from a couple feet to more than 6 feet tall. Prices range from about $50 up to $110.
Old Town Farmers’ Market in downtown Belleville will be back for the growing season beginning May 6. But, the big change is that the outdoor market will be in a new location beginning this years: along the first block of South Charles Street, between East Main and East Washington streets. There’s ample parking and space for vendors who will be selling only locally grown items that are in season. This time of year, shoppers will find honey, summer sausage and much more. Children also will have a chance to find “Farmer Greta” among the vendors for a chance to win prizes.
The Saturday market opens at 7:30 a.m. and runs until noon weekly through Nov. 4. Up-to-date information can be found on the Belleville Old Town Farmers’ Market Facebook page.
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Mark your calendars now for the annual Collinsville Garden Club Plant Sale. It’s from 9 a.m. to noon May 6 at 303 N. Morrison in Collinsville. It’s a great chance to pick up just what you need for your garden, and maybe something for Mother’s Day (May 14) as well.
Ready to picnic? Carry your food and beverages in style with rolling coolers from TJ Maxx in Fairview Heights. I wrote about these last summer because I liked how easy they were to use. I noticed this year that there are more colors and patterns from which to choose. The soft-sided coolers are $24.99, have a telescoping handle for rolling around and hidden backpack straps for carrying. You can fit up to 40 beverage cans in the main compartment, plus there is a second zippered top section for plates, napkins or whatever. In addition, there are side mesh pockets and a front zippered one.
When I was at Gander Mountain in O’Fallon, I noticed a variety of kitchen accessories for outdoor cooking. Most go with brandname Camp Chef stoves (a double-burner is $95.99 on sale). A big griddle, perfect for pancakes, is $43.99 on sale. Save 20 percent now on Camp Chef, as well as Lodge cast-iron products.
World Market in Shiloh has some really cool new outdoor table linens. You’ll find woven placemats and table runners with tassels that are made from recycled plastic bottles. Believe me, the “fabric” is so soft and easy to clean; perfect for outdoor (or indoor) tabletops. The 16-by-90 woven Sakari striped table runners I saw are $24.99. I didn’t see any matching placemats for that pattern in the store, but a check online has a set of four for $19.99. You’ll also find indoor/outdoor rugs in bold patterns made of the same material on sale.
Graduation and job interviews near as May approaches, so the young guy in your family may need to dress better than jeans and sneakers. So, I suggest Kohl’s. Right now, Chaps sport coats are $69.99 and dress shirts range from $18.99 to $24.99. And, if you can get him into dress shoes, select styles of Nunn Bush footwear for men are $49.99.