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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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It’s a great time for gardening in Middle Tennessee

Flowers are blooming, seedlings are sprouting: May is prime-time in the garden.

Coleus and mint make a colorful summer arrangement in a container outdoors.

Now that the weather is reliably warm, it’s finally time to plant those summer garden favorites that need a little heat: tomatoes, peppers, basil, dill, squash, okra.

Here are other ways to celebrate this first week of May in the garden:

* Plant perennials in new or existing garden beds. Water them well, and to make sure they get enough moisture to survive their first season, consider using soaker hoses throughout the beds, for easier, more efficient watering.

* Set out bedding plants: petunias, salvia, begonias, impatiens and other favorites.

* If you need to prune the azaleas, now is the time to do it. Use clean pruning shears to avoid spreading diseases. Cut branches back to a side branch that is growing in the desired direction. Cut close to the branch without leaving a stub. Info: azaleas.org.

* Some houseplants enjoy a summer vacation outdoors. Place them in a shady, protected spot to acclimate them to their temporary outdoor home.

* Plant bright flowers to bring butterflies and hummingbirds to your garden: Bee balm, salvia, cardinal flower and zinnias are easy-to-grow favorites.

At Turning Toward the Sun: A Garden Journal — The focus in on gardening in West End IB World School’s new outdoor classroom.


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