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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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Hellebores: winter in bloom

When can hellebores be planted or divided?

Hellebores can be a nice surprise in the garden in late winter, when everything else out there is still asleep. They are tough plants with evergreen foliage and flowers that bloom in winter and last well into spring. Even when they are blooming, they are not fazed by frost or below-freezing temperatures, and they will emerge from a mantle of snow bright and fresh as when they bloomed.

You can plant hellebores in spring or fall. They can be dug up and divided, but they may take a year or two to get re-established. Sometimes they self-sow, and the young seedlings can be dug up and transplanted in spring.

Gardeners often think of them as shade-loving plants, but they can also do well in sunny areas. They are happiest in well-drained, alkaline soil with plenty of organic matter. Southern Living Garden Book suggests fertilizing once or twice a year.

Helleborus is the botanical name. H. orientalis is often called by its common name, Lenten rose, but there are several varieties and hybrids that have different traits. To see photos of different varieties, check out the online resource hellebores.org.

 

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