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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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Suffering from a summer brown-out

QUESTION: Why is my fescue grass turning  brown? I water 2 to 3 times a week and have it professionally treated  (fertilized and weed control). The lawn company says that’s just the nature of  cool weather grass in the summer heat. What do you think? — Charlie

A cool-season lawn may suffer in summer.

I’m not a lawn expert, but I do a lot of research to answer readers’ questions. Here’s what I’ve found:

It is the nature of fescue, which is a cool-season grass, to turn brown in the summer during hot weather, especially during dry periods. It goes dormant, and will green up again when the weather gets cooler.

However, there is also a fungal disease called “brown patch” that may affect fescue lawns. The symptoms include small brown patches that get bigger. It might start with a ring of brown grass with a patch of green in the middle. Individual blades of grass will be brown, but the plant will be green at soil level. If this symptom isn’t present, it may just be the summer heat. It’s a good idea to know for sure what the problem is before applying unnecessary fungicides.

Lawns do well with about an inch of water a week. They don’t need to be watered every day, but water deeply maybe once a week if it doesn’t rain. (Too much water may do as much harm as too little). It’s also a good idea to cut the grass higher. If it’s cut too short, it leaves the lawn vulnerable to more weeds and diseases.

I found this garden expert’s web site that may offer a little more information: http://www.walterreeves.com/lawn-care/fescue-diseases.

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How much are garden-grown stringbeans worth? Plenty, if you have to protect them from marauding rabbits. See my solution over the garden journal, Turning Toward the Sun.

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