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  • Garden events in Middle Tennessee

    Now – April 27: Cheekwood in Bloom festival, six weeks of family-friendly activities – garden tours, live music, interactive programs and more – and showcasing 100,000 brilliantly colored tulips set to bloom across the grounds in early April. Complete schedule of activities at cheekwood.org.

    Every Saturday now – May 31: Volunteer to help weed, plant, harvest and care for the Unity in DiversityPeaceGarden, a learning garden on the campus of Scarritt-Bennett designed to cultivate conversations about diversity and sustainability issues, and to foster individual and collective action. 1 – 3 p.m.; bring water, gardening tools and gloves. 1008 19th Ave. So. in Nashville. To learn more about the program, visit www.scarrittbennett.org.

    April 26: The sixth annual Herb & Craft Fair sponsored by First Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashville. Shop for herb seedlings, heirloom tomatoes and other plants, and a wide selection of handcrafted items: pressed-flower cards, calendars, gift and jewelry items; natural handmade soaps with essential oils and fragrant herbs; Sewn and hand-knit items, sweet breads, herb breads, spice mixes and rubs, herbal vinegars, jams, jellies, chutney and more.

    April 26:MontgomeryCounty Master Gardener Plant Sale, Clarksville Library, 350 Pageant Lane in Clarksville. Hours are 8 – 11:30 a.m. or until sold out.

    May 3: Middle Tennessee Iris Society show at EllingtonAgriculturalCenter’s Ed Jones Auditorium (440 Hogan Rd. in Nashville). Entries admitted 7 a.m. – 10 a.m., judging begins at 10:30 a.m., and the show opens to the public 1:30 – 4:30 p.m. To learn more about MTIS, visit www.middletnirisociety.org.

    May 3: Robertson County Master Gardeners plant sale, 408 North Main Street in Springfield, Tenn., 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. or until all plants are sold. Informational classes will be held throughout the day Details at www.rcmga.org.

    May 10: Middle Tennessee Hosta Society plant sale with more than 300 varieties of hosta, 8:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the Maryland Farms YMCA, 5101 Maryland Way in Brentwood. Details and a plant list available at www.mths-hosta.com.

    May 10: Master Gardeners of DavidsonCounty host a cemetery tour at the historic NashvilleCityCemetery, and 10 – 11:30 a.m. Visitors will see the cemetery with plants that would be found there around 1862, and learn about the lives of some of Nashville’s famous citizens. Free and open to the public. To learn more contact the Metro Historical Commission, 862-7970.

    May 10 – Sunflower Café Spring Market,local farmers, nurseries and artisans offering garden plants and items and handcrafted items. Shop, eat and drink 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. 2834 Azalea Place, Berry Hill, Nashville.

    May 17: Master Gardeners of Davidson County Urban Gardening Festival, featuring exhibitors, artisans, vendors and workshops on a wide range of gardening topics. 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. at the DemonstrationGarden at Ellington Agricultural Center, 5201 Marchant Drive. Admission and parking are free. Details at www.mgofdc.org.

    May 17: Backyard Beekeeping at WarnerParkNatureCenter, an introduction to residential beekeeping led by D’ganit Eldar, Melissa Donahue and NatureCenter volunteers, 9 – 11 a.m. Registration (adults only) opens May 2; call (615) 352-6299 to register.

    May 20: Perennial Plant Society of Middle Tennessee meets at Cheekwood’s Botanic Hall. Jason Reeves from UT Jackson Extension will speak on reliable garden plants – perennials and annuals, trees and vines -- that will last for years in your garden. Refreshments at 6:30, program begins at 7. Open to the public.

     

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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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