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  • Upcoming Garden Events

    Sept. 30: The Nashville Herb Society presents Through the Garden Gate: A Glimpse of Edwardian England, 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. at Cheekwood Botanic Hall. Celebrate the gardens, foods and flowers that delighted Downton Abby family and friends at the turn of the 20th century. The event begins with a hearty Edwardian breakfast, followed by three speakers: Marta McDowell on Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life; Geraldine A. Laufer on Tussie Mussie – Victorian art of expressing yourself in the language of flowers; and Terry White, The English Garden event florist . Registration includes breakfast, box lunch in the garden with music, English tea and cookies. To learn more or to register, visit www.herbsocietynashvlle.org.

    Tips & tasks – September

    Cut the dead tops of coneflowers, but leave enough for goldfinches to enjoy the seeds.

    Plant cool-weather vegetables for a fall crop: spinach, mustard and turnip greens, radishes, leaf lettuce.

    Start a new lawn of cool-season grass, such as fescue, or refurbish or repair establish lawns.

    Don’t let the soil of newly planted grass dry out. New grass needs about an inch of water per week.

    It’s still warm, so continue to water and weed garden beds as needed.

    Remove dead foliage, spent flowers and other garden debris; replenish mulch as needed.

    Continue to harvest produce, which may be getting a boost now from slightly cooler weather. Keep watering sage, rosemary and other perennial herbs so they’ll be in good shape to get through winter.

    Prepare to bring houseplants back indoors: remove dead leaves, scrub soil from the sides of the pots, treat for insects. Bring tropical plants in before nighttime temperatures dip to 55 degrees.

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All leaves, no flowers

QUESTION: I have five plants that I’ve been told are ‘Mini Penny’ hydrangeas. Last year they had lots of white blooms. This year they are growing very well with lots of green leaves etc, but only very few (3) blooms. I have fertilized with an acid balanced Miracle Grow fertilizer as well as a root stimulator. Can you suggest any reason for the lack of blooms this year? – George Carr

First, let’s consider the hydrangea variety that goes by the name ‘Mini Penny.’ A Web search shows that it’s one of the French hydrangeas, a compact, slow-growing mophead variety that blooms pink if the soil is alkaline, or powder blue in acid soil. You say yours had white blooms, so perhaps it’s something else.

Still, we can talk in general about why hydrangeas don’t bloom. The hydrangea expert Judith King, who runs the Web site hydrangeashydrangeas.com (I referred to this site a couple of weeks ago, writing about ‘Annabelle’ hydrangeas), says there are three common reasons why mopheads fail to bloom. 1) If a late spring freeze kills the developing buds, which grow on last year’s stems; 2) If you pruned the shrub too late last year, cutting off the stems that held this year’s buds; 3) If you have a variety that is not suited for this area.

This year, a late spring freeze is probably not the problem. It was cool in late spring, but we didn’t get a freeze, and I’ve seen some gorgeous hydrangeas blooming in gardens around town.

Did you prune? Buds for the following year start forming on French hydrangeas in the summer, so if you pruned the shrub in late summer or fall, you may have cut off all but a few (3) buds.

The third reason – the plant is not suited for the area – can’t be considered until you know what variety you have.

One more note about fertilizer: King advises using a balanced product such as10-10-10, applying it once or twice during the summer. Use caution and follow the package directions, because too much fertilizer can damage the shrubs. It’s also best to fertilize before August, she says, so that any new growth has a chance to harden before winter. Remember, too, that too much nitrogen can cause a plant to grow lots of greenery, but does little to aid in flowering.

 

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