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  • Garden events in Middle Tennessee

    May 14: The historic Nashville City Cemetery will present a Master Gardeners' Tour 10  - 11:30 a.m. Members of the City Cemetery Project  will give visitors a glimpse of the cemetery as it was around 1862. The Master Gardeners maintain the flower gardens with plants that would have been in the cemetery right before the Civil War. Visitors will also learn about the lives of some of Nashville's famous citizens. The event is free and open to the public. www.mgofdc.org; www.thenashvillecitycemetery.org.

    May 21: Master Gardeners of Davidson County Urban Gardening Festival -- Exhibits, demonstrations, vendors, information sessions, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. at the Demonstration Garden at Ellington Agricultural Center. Admission is free. https://mgofdc.wildapricot.org.

    June 18: The Middle Tennessee Daylily Society’s daylily show at Crievewood Methodist Church (across from the entrance to Ellington Agricultural Center). Show is open to the public noon – 4 p.m.; daylily sale starts at 10 a.m., with all daylilies priced at $5.

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May garden tips & tasks

May is a busy and beautiful time in the garden. Here are tasks and tips to keep you busy this month.

Early in the month

If you haven’t already gotten those warm-season vegetables in the ground, plant them now! Tomatoes, peppers, squash, okra, beans, eggplant and other favorites will get off to a fast start now that the weather is warm.

zinnias-1

Set out bedding plants of zinnias and other summer annuals.

Set out bedding plants of zinnias, celosia, snapdragon, begonias, petunias, coleus – all the favorite summer annuals.

Plant plenty of basil in a sunny location to use in summer recipes. Clip and use it frequently, which allows the plants to grow sturdier. Snip off flowers as they begin to form. Continue reading

Ants on peonies: Welcome visitors or creepy pests?

I love peonies, their flowers and their fragrance. But when ours are blooming they always seem to be covered with ants! They crawl all over the buds. Sometimes they are small ants, and sometimes large black ants. How can we get rid of them?

Ants crawl on peoniesYou don’t want to get rid of them. The ants are not harming the peonies, and in fact they may have a part to play in helping to open the dense flower buds of some varieties. According to the Heartland Peony Society, it is believed that peonies produce nectar that attracts them for this purpose. It’s normal, and temporary. After the peonies are open, the ants often disappear.

What you may want to know is how to avoid a potentially embarrassing situation: using your cut peonies in an indoor arrangement and having ants crawl out of the flowers and across the dinner table! Continue reading

Foxgloves for sun or shade

I planted several transplants of foxgloves in a garden bed last year and they bloomed and grew well. I thought they were annuals and would die when winter came, and I was surprised to see that they have come back. What can you tell me about them?

Foxglove-webFoxgloves, with their low-growing foliage and tall, dramatic flower spikes, are biennials, blooming in their second year, or short-lived perennials, according to the National Gardening Association. In a garden bed that contains foxgloves, the foliage begins to appear in spring, and by late spring or early summer they are usually ready to bloom. Continue reading

A daisy dilemma

I planted a perennial garden several years back. In the past two years, the Shasta daisies have spread and are taking over the whole garden. I have dug several up but the roots are numerous. Should I just spray them to kill them?

DaisiesWhen you read comments about Shasta daisies on garden websites, it’s clear that gardeners either love them or hate them. Love them because these daisies (Leucanthemum, in botanical nomenclature) are easy to grow and bloom reliably year after year; hate them because they can be aggressive and can, indeed, muscle out plants that are more well-behaved.

Continue reading

Disappearing columbine

The columbine that I planted about three years ago usually starts coming up in March, but it hasn’t started growing this year. Could something have killed it?

Although it self-seeds, columbine is a short-lived perennial.

Although it self-seeds , columbine is a short-lived perennial.

Columbine (Aquilegia is the botanical name), with its lacy leaves and bell-shaped flowers, is a nice addition to spring gardens. It’s a relatively short-lived perennial, however, that owes any sense of longevity to a habit of prolific self-seeding. The original plant may last only two or three years. Continue reading

April garden tips & tasks

Dogwood blossomsSpring — however capricious it may be — has arrived, and it’s time to head back outdoors, keeping an eye on the weather. Gardeners in Middle Tennessee, Zone 7a, where The Garden Bench calls home, are anxious to get the season started. Warmer areas are already in full swing; if it’s cooler where you are, it’s getting close!

Here’s what’s on your garden to-do list for April. Continue reading

Plant potatoes in early spring

This year I’d like to grow potatoes in our raised bed garden. Can the seed potatoes be planted this early in the spring?

Potatoes in bloom.

Potatoes in bloom.

Growing your own potatoes is a good way to try varieties that you won’t find in the grocery store, but make sure you get the timing right. Potatoes that are planted in soil that is too wet and cold won’t grow, but if the likelihood of a hard freeze is no longer a danger in your area, then now is a good time to plant them. Continue reading

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