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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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Clearing up clematis confusion

QUESTION: I am looking for a white, late-blooming clematis. What can you tell me about it? – Franny

Sweet autumn clematis.

You are probably describing the late-summer-blooming vine that is either sweet autumn clematis or the vine commonly called virgin’s bower. They are both deciduous vines, look similar, and bloom about the same time, but there’s a difference.

Clematis terniflora, the sweet autumn clematis, is a vine that is native to Japan. Here’s what the Southern Living Garden Book says about it: “Tall and vigorous (some would say rampant)…Self-sows readily; can become a pest.” They admit it makes a good privacy screen with its “billowy masses of 1-inch wide, fragrant, creamy white flowers in late summer, fall.”

Digging deeper, I found it listed as a “lesser threat” (as opposed to a “severe” or “significant threat”) by the Tennessee Exotic Pest Plant Council, which lists invasive plants. Not long ago, a friend who has it in her garden told me it is covering up other shrubs in the garden, and she will have to pull it up. Consider yourself warned.

© 2002 Steve Baskauf http://bioimages.vanderbilt.edu

Virgin's bower

The vine called virgin’s bower is C. virginiana, and it’s native to the eastern U.S. It’s described as having “bright green foliage; profuse show of sweetly fragrant, 1¼ inch white blossoms in 3 to 6-inch long clusters in late summer, fall.” It also goes by the common name “devil’s darning needles.” It may also self-seed and could get out of hand if you don’t pay attention, but at least it’s not labeled an invasive pest.

The sweet autumn clematis is likely the most readily available in nurseries and garden centers; to find virgin’s bower, you may have to look for nurseries that specialize in native species. Here are three in theNashville area:

Growild, a wholesale nursery in Fairview that welcomes retail customers by appointment (http://www.growildinc.com/); Nashville Natives, which provides plants for sale at Whole Foods and Gardens of Babylon (http://www.nashvillenatives.com/); and Moore & Moore Garden Center, a retail nursery at 8216 Highway 100 (http://www.mooreandmoore.com/)

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