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  • March garden tips & tasks

    If your fescue lawn looks a little skimpy, overseed early this month. Fescue grows best when the weather is still cool.

    Clip dead stems from perennial herbs – thyme, sage, lavender, rosemary. Pruning encourages vigorous new growth.

    Prune nandinas, flowering quince and other airy shrubs by reaching in and removing about a third of the branches at ground level.

    Remove mulch or leaves that may be covering perennials in garden beds.

    Prepare a new garden bed: Have the soil tested (check with your county’s Extension service). Remove grass and dig or till soil 8 to 10 inches deep and mix with soil amendments and organic matter to improve drainage.

    Add fertilizer lightly to perennials as soon as you see new growth. Too much fertilizer may result in lanky growth.

    Herb transplants that don’t mind cool weather -- parsley, cilantro, sage, oregano – can go in the ground now.

    When you cut daffodils to bring inside, cut the stems at an angle and place them in water right away. Change the water in the vase daily to keep them fresh longer.

    Save the date - Middle Tennessee garden events

    The Perennial Plant Society's annual Plant Sale will be April 8, opening at 9 a.m. at The Fairgrounds Nashville. The sale offers newly released and hard-to-find perennials from top local nurseries -- more than 450 varieties of perennials, vines, grasses, shrubs and annuals. The event supports local scholarships for Tennessee horticulture students and monthly gardening programs, open to the public, at Cheekwood Botanical Gardens. For information visit www.ppsmtn.org.

    The Herb Society of Nashville's annual Herb Sale will be April 29, 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. at The Fairgrounds Nashville. The sale will offer heirloom vegetables, rare varieties of perennial and annual herbs, handmade pottery herb markers and more. To learn more, visit herbsocietynashville.org.

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One more way to say ‘early spring’

I bought three primroses in February and they are surviving (which is unusual for me!). When do I plant them? I know they like cool temps, but I don’t want to lose them to our unpredictable weather. I also don’t want to keep them too long inside and lose them that way. Do they like shade? – Patty O.

Primroses in spring. Photo by Marilyn Stretch.

So many types of primroses! There are the hybrid primroses sold in grocery stores in winter as gift plants, and the tough and somewhat weedy evening primrose (Oenothera biennis), which grows in open fields and in the gravel along the side of the road. I assume what you’re asking about is one of the many “garden variety” primroses (Primula, is the scientific name) that can pop up in late winter and early spring.

They all seem to be cool-weather plants, so it’s probably a good time to plant them. The American Primrose Society’s site at www.americanprimrosesociety.org shows several varieties. In general, they prefer to grow in light shade, and some are good for woodland settings. They are perennials that thrive in cool, humid air, so they may do better grown as annuals in Middle Tennesse gardens.

I’ve never grown primroses, so I’d love to hear from readers who have and who would like to share your experience. Success? Failure? Feel free to comment.

And… Transplants, the easy way

An early disaster with starting tomato transplants from seeds has kept me from trying again. But now, there may be an easier way. See Turning Toward the Sun: A Garden Journal.

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