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  • Garden events in Middle Tennessee

    Now - Sept. 7: Andy Warhol’s Flowers exhibit at Cheekwood. Nearly a dozen screen prints from the artist’s original Flowers series, paintings, studio photographs and more. Information: www.cheekwood.org.

    Sept. 4 and Sept. 6: Grow Your Own Medicine Chest workshop, a hands-on workshop to learn what herbs to grow and use for bites and stings, poison ivy, colds and other maladies. 6 - 8 p.m. Sept. 4; 10 a.m. – noon Sept. 6. $45 per person. To register and to learn more about other upcoming workshops, visit The Cracked Pot Homestead.

    Sept. 7: The Nashville African Violet Club will meet at 1:45 at Grace United Methodist Church, 2905 N. Mt. Juliet Rd. in Mount Juliet with a program on growing African violets.  For more information, contact Julie at  Julie.mavity@gmail.com or 615-364-8459.

    Sept. 14: The Tennessee Gesneriad Society will meet at 2 p.m. at Cheekwood in Botanic Hall. The program will be a presentation on interesting gesneriads to grow.  To learn more, contact Julie at  Julie.mavity@gmail.com or 615-364-8459.

     Sept 16: Perennial Plant Society meets at Cheekwood’s Botanic Hall. Guest speaker is Randy Hedgepath, state naturalist for Tennessee State Parks, topic is “Identifying Native Plants and Wildflowers.” www.ppsmt.org. Refreshments at  6:30, program at 7, open to the public.

    Sept. 16: Orchid Society of Middle Tennessee meets at Cheekwood’s Botanic Hall with guest speaker Geraldine Powell of Orchid Gallery. http://tnorchid.org/. Refreshments at  6:30, program at 7, open to the public.

    Sept. 18: Lunch & Lecture on “Ordinary Plants with Extraordinary Stories” with guest Carol Reese, ornamental horticulture specialist at UT Extension. Noon – 1 p.m. at Cheekwood. $15 for members, $25 for non-members. www.cheekwood.org.

    Sept. 20: Herb Day – “A Closer Look at Herbs,” sponsored by the Herb Society of Nashville, 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. in Cheekwood’s Botanic hall. $47 per person ($42 if you register by Aug. 31); registration is required. Details at www.herbsocietynashville.org.

    Sept. 25: Fall Wildflower Hike at Warner Park Nature Center. Stroll through a meadow with naturalist Deb Beazley to enjoy the array of fall wildflowers, 9 – 11 a.m. Another hike is scheduled Sept. 27, 9 – 11 a.m. Call 352-6299 to register for this adult-level program.

    Sept. 27: Cheekwood Harvest, a six-week festival celebrating fall, opens with activities and specialty programs throughout the gardens, including a display of more than 5,000 autumn-hued chrysanthemums in the Robertson Ellis Color Garden. Complete details and schedule are at www.cheekwood.org.

     

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Banish the Bradford pear

QUESTION: When should Bradford pear trees be pruned? Is now a good time? How far back should you prune them?

Bradford pear trees are the first to flower in spring, but they are not a good choice for landscape trees.

I’ll answer the last question first, and echo the thoughts of many landscape and forestry experts who believe that these trees should get just one pruning cut – about an inch above the ground.

Seriously, Bradford pears (Pyrus calleryana Bradford’) are not good landscape trees, no matter how lovely they are this time of year. They live fast and die young – a 25-year-old Bradford pear is probably near the end of its life. Because their heavy limbs grow at narrow angles, they tend to split apart. And because they shoot up so quickly and easily, this import from China has been placed on alert as a possible threat by the Tennessee Exotic Pest Plant Council. So, is it time to reconsider?

But back to the question: It’s good to prune trees in late winter, while they’re still dormant. As you are no doubt aware if you’re in Middle Tennessee, “late winter” now seems to mean the same as “spring,” and most things are no longer dormant. So if you need to prune, do it now, before the tree leafs out fully and you can still see the branch structure easily.

Really, though, wouldn’t you rather have something else? Landscape professionals suggest a couple of good native alternatives to the Bradford pear: downy serviceberry (Amelanchier arboria), which has white flowers in spring, dark green foliage in summer and red berries in the fall; and Fringe tree (Chionanthus virginicus), white flowers, green leaves, small blue-black fruit enjoyed by birds in the fall.

Either would be better than a Bradford pear, guaranteed.

 

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