QUESTION: Every year, the small white flowers called star-of-Bethlehem pop up in our lawn. The flowers are cute, but they’re everywhere! It makes an ugly lawn. How can I get rid of it?
This time of year, star-of-Bethlehem shoots up in lawns, on creek banks, in wild meadows. They are indeed everywhere – even in gardens, where unsuspecting gardeners may plant them because they are a pretty little wildflower. The bad news is that once they get a foothold in your lawn, they are tough to eradicate.
Star-of-Bethlehem is a cool-season perennial that grows from small bulbs. The foliage resembles wild garlic, and the small white flowers each have six petals. The bulbs multiply rapidly, and are spread easily. After it blooms, the plant dies down and remains dormant until next spring.
As you might expect, it’s considered an invasive exotic here. The plant is native to North Africa, parts of Eastern Europe and western Asia. UT’s Institute of Agriculture notes that it has become a weed problem on athletic fields and golf courses. Even more bad news: the flowers and bulbs of star-of-Bethlehem are poisonous.
You could try digging it up, but that would be a monstrous task because you need to get every little bulb. UT Extension has a list of control products (most of which are to be used only by professionals). There may be very little you can do except wait it out, and don’t spread them around. The USDA Forest Service is very clear about this: “Do not plant this species.”
EVENTS COMING UP
Big Old Tree: Tuesday April 3 is the deadline for entering this year’s Big Old Tree contest. Send in information about that big old tree in your yard, your neighbor’s yard, or anywhere in Nashville you see an awesome tree of any species. It (and you) could be awarded honors at the annual High Tree Party, which will be held April 27 – Arbor Day – at Sevier Park.
Entering is easy: Download an entry form from the Nashville Tree Foundation’s web site, or enter online. You can see past winners at the web site – a good idea to check it, to make sure the tree you enter hasn’t won in the past. There are also instructions on how to measure a big tree.
Whether you enter a tree or not, you are invited to enjoy the High Tree Party, where big tree winners will be announced, the Victor Johnson Award will be presented to the tree champion of the year, and you can enjoy tree-themed snacks.
Bloom ‘n’ Garden Expo is April 13 – 15 at the Ag Expo Center in Franklin, Tenn. Plants, gardening products from hundreds of vendors, speakers and educational workshops are on the schedule throughout the weekend. Details are at the web site.
The Perennial Plant Society’s annual sale is coming back to the Tennessee State Fairgrounds April 14, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. There will be thousands of perennials for sale for sun and shade, all from Tennessee growers, so they’re adapted to our growing conditions. Admission is free, but PPSMT notes that the Fairgrounds has a $5 parking fee. To learn more, visit PPSMT’s web site.
The Herb Society of Nashville’s annual plant sale is April 21 at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds. It’s 9 a.m. – 2 p.m., but get there early to browse through 15,000 herbs (including some of those hard-to-find varieties) and talk to the Answer Ladies and all the other herb fanciers who turn out for this annual event. Look for more info at the Society’s website, www.herbsocietynashville.org and Facebook page.
Cheekwood is celebrating its gardens all through April with a series of Cheekwood in Bloom events.
The 20th annual Spring Art Hop is April 7. More than 20,000 candy-filled eggs will be hidden throughout the gardens for egg hunts every half-hour. There will also be music, arts and crafts and live entertainment.
Ka-Bloom! on April 14 includes at family art activity and scavenger hunt,10 a.m. – 2 p.m.; flower arranging demonstration at10:30 a.m.; guided tour ofhte Robertson Ellis Color Garden at 11 a.m. Howard Pink and his Musical Garden Hoses at noon; guided tour of the Carell Dogwood Garden at 1 p.m.; and container garden demonstration at 2 p.m.
The grand opening of the Howe Garden at Cheekwood (after a million-dollar renovation) will be April 21, with activities, live music, guided tours and refreshments,10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
In honor of national Arbor Day, April 28, there will be several drop-in activities and demonstrations. By the way, Cheekwood is now a certified Level IV arboretum, with more than 120 identified species of trees.
Every Sunday in April there will be guided greenhouse tours atnoon; guided museum tours at1 p.m.; and a drawing room concert series featuring Blair School of Music at2 p.m.
Complete details on Cheekwood in Bloom are at Cheekwood’s web site.