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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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Keep Rosemary happy

I have a small  rosemary bush that is thriving, and hope it lives through the winter. What is the best way to care for it so it survives?

Rosemary cuttings can root in water.

More and more, I was hearing gardeners say their rosemary, which does not always make it through winter outdoors in this area, was getting through the cold just fine. Then last year, many gardeners I talked to said their rosemary – which may have been growing for years in the same spot – died. Mine did, too.

Herb experts say that the survival of rosemary can be hit-or-miss. It depends on the kind of winter we have, the kind of rosemary that’s growing in your garden, and even where it’s planted.

If we experience a series of very cold days with very low wind-chill temperatures, rosemary may not stand a chance. If the plant is in the ground on the south side of the house, where it’s protected from a cold north wind, it has a better chance of survival. If it’s near a concrete driveway, brick walkway or a stone wall – anything that reflects a little of the sun’s warmth – there’s an even better chance it’ll make it through unscathed.

It’s best chance is if it happens to be one of the hardier varieties that’s planted on the south side of the house and protected from the wind. The Herb Society of Nashville lists the varieties ‘Arp,’ ‘Hill Hardy’ and ‘Salem’ among the best choices for this area. The National Arboretum adds a few more to the list; check out their choices here.

You may be tempted to dig up the rosemary and bring it indoors for winter, but that’s a bad idea. Rosemary is a shrub and won’t take kindly to the dry air and heat inside the house (which is why so many of those cute rosemary topiaries that people give as gifts die so quickly). If you want to try to bring some of your rosemary inside, you may try to snip a few cuttings and keep them inside in a vase of water, where they may grow roots. Change the water every day or two.

 

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