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  • Upcoming Garden Events in Middle Tennessee

    March 1 – 4: Nashville Lawn & Garden Show, Fairgrounds Nashville: The annual all-indoors garden event that features live garden displays, lectures, vendors, floral designs and special programming Wine Festival featuring Tennessee wines is Saturday (March 3), noon – 5 p.m. For more information on the events and the complete lecture schedule, visit www.nashvillelawnandgardenshow.com.

    April 7: Perennial Plant Sale hosted by the Perennial Plant Society of Middle Tennessee annual Perennial Plant Sale at The Fairgrounds Nashville. Find newly released and hard-to-find perennials along with a wide range of tried and tested varieties, all from top local nurseries. The sale opens at 9 a.m. and usually sells out by early afternoon. For more information, visit www.ppsmtn.org.

    April 14: Herb & Plant Sale hosted by The Herb Society of 9 a.m. – 2 p.m., at The Fairgrounds Nashville Sports Arena building. The sale offers common and rare varieties of herbs and heirloom vegetables and handmade pottery and herb markers by artist Roy Overcast for sale. For more information and a list of available plants, visit www.herbsocietynashville.org.

    April 21: Herb & Craft Fair hosted by First Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashville, 1808 Woodmont Blvd., 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Top quality perennial and annual herbs, heirloom tomato plants, native and companion plants, along with food and craft items reflecting an interest in the homemade and homegrown: fresh homemade sweet and yeast breads, spice mixes, barbecue sauces, jams and jellies; knitted and sewn items, homes for birds and bees, and art, jewelry and more made from pressed flowers. Visit www.thefuun.org.

    May 12: Hosta sale hosted by the Middle Tennessee Hosta. Proceeds from the sale support the club’s activities. More information about the MTHS is at www.mths-hosta.com.

    May 19: Urban Gardening Festival, hosted by Master Gardeners of Davidson County, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. (rain or shine) at the Master Gardeners’ Demonstration Garden at Ellington Agricultural Center (5201 Marchant Drive in Nashville). The free event includes information about a variety of gardening methods and techniques, local artisans, exhibiters, growers and more. For information, visit www.mgofdc.org/ugf.

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Keep ‘Annabelle’ standing

QUESTION: What is the best way to secure Annabelle hydrangeas to keep the beautiful blooms from breaking in the wind and rain? And why do these beautiful flowers do so poorly when they’re cut for an arrangement? – Debbie

‘Annabelle’ is among the stars of summer.

It’s true. The big, heavy bloom heads of Annabelle hydrangeas make an impressive statement in the summer, but whip them around with a strong wind or pelt them with heavy rain and they can flop over like big, wet rags. Sometimes the stems break, and that spells the beginning of the end for the lovely white flowers.

The best way to keep them standing is to prop them up. Judith King, who writes a Web site devoted to hydrangeas, has several suggestions. She says you can plant them next to a decorative fence, plant three Annabelle shrubs together so they prop each other up, or, early in the spring, surround each plant with a short wire cage. As they leaf out and grow, the foliage hides the cage, and all you see is your tall, lovely hydrangeas, happily standing.

One cultural practice to consider: Some gardeners cut the stems of Annabelles close to the ground in the fall. Since these hydrangeas bloom on new growth, they’ll grow and bloom just fine next summer, but the stems will not have had a chance to thicken. If you leave the stems 18 to 24 inches tall, those stouter stems will help support the newer branches and blooms next year. 

As for why the flowers sometimes do poorly after they’re cut (they sometimes wilt within an hour or two), Judith King says this seems to be caused by a sticky substance that clogs up the stem. Try this:

When you go out to cut hydrangeas, take a container of water and put the stem in water immediately after you cut it. Back indoors, boil more water and pour it into another container. Cut the hydrangea stems to the desired length, then stand the stems in the hot water for 30 seconds. Immediately put them into room temperature water in an arrangement. King says it works like a charm.

Got moles? They’re all over – or under — my kitchen garden. My next plan of attack will be a castor oil recipe that’s supposed to encourage them to move on. Read about it over at Turning Toward the Sun: A Garden Journal.


2 Responses

  1. I’m glad I didn’t read your post on using the Annabelle hydrangea blooms as cut flowers before I cut one. I planted an Annabelle shrub just about 6 weeks ago. My dog, looking for a cool spot, began digging right next to the newly planted shrub–we have since fenced off the area!–and dislodged one of the lower branches that had a bloom on it. I clipped the end and immediately stuck it in a vase. Nearly 2 weeks later, it is still blooming! It’s probably beginner’s luck, and I daren’t try it ever again…

  2. They don’t always wilt when you cut them – but sometimes they do, and this technique is supposed to help avoid that possibility. You can also try it to rejuvenate a cut bloom that has wilted. Good luck with the new shrub!

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