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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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Transplant a peony

When can peonies be separated and transplanted?
Peonies can be kind of fussy about where they’ll grow and what they’ll do if you try to move them. In fact, most garden experts will tell you that peonies seldom need dividing, and recover poorly from any attempt to do so.
That said, there’s a good time to do if, if you must, and that time is late summer or early fall. Make divisions or root cuttings with at least three growing points, then replant the divisions 18 to 24 inches apart. Plant them in a new bed that has been dug 12 inches deep, into which you have worked good compost or other organic matter. Pick a spot in full sun or a place that gets a little afternoon shade. Set plants in the ground at the same level or slightly higher than they were growing before you dug them up.
The cuttings should begin to grow next spring, so make sure they have sufficient moisture when they do. Judy Lowe, the author of Month-By-Month Gardening in Tennessee & Kentucky, suggests placing a half-inch of compost on top of the soil in spring and summer, and applying a slow-release fertilizer in mid-spring.
Then sit back and be patient. Even with this good care, it may take a couple of years for a transplanted peony to recover and bloom well again.

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