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  • Garden events in Middle Tennessee

    Jan. 29: Organic Gardening. Discuss topics such as composting, seed starting, planting dates, soil preparation, insects and more with naturalist Deb Beazley, 9 – 10:30 a.m. at Warner Park Nature Center. Call 615-352-6299 to register for this class for ages 13 and up.

    Feb. 6: Birds in the Backyard. Learn about feeders and native landscaping that will attract birds to your garden, led by Vera Vollbrecht, 11 a.m. – noon at Warner Park Nature Center.  Call 615-352-6299 to register for this all-ages class.

    Feb. 12: Planting the seed. Vegetables have begun sprouting in the greenhouse. Naturalist Heather Gallagher leads a class about gardening in winter or age 3 – 5, 10 – 11 a.m. or 1 – 2 p.m. at Warner Park Nature Center. Call 615-352-6299 to register.

    March 3 - 6: Nashville Lawn & Garden Show, live gardens, free lectures, demonstrations, vendor marketplace, floral design gallery at the Fairgrounds Nashville. Information at www.nashvillelawnandgardenshow.com.

    March 18-19: The Garden Party, garden lectures, vendor booths, demonstration, floral arrangements, exhibit of garden and nature-relate art, Friday and Saturday, with a family-friendly garden party event Friday evening, 7 – 11 p.m. featuring music by the band Dixiana, food and non-alcoholic beverages available for purchase. The event will be at the Lane Agri-Park Community Center, 315 John R. Rice Blvd. in Murfreesboro. Tickets are $6 for the daytime event, tickets for the Friday night event are $8; children 13 and under admitted free with a paying adult ticket. To learn more: www.BoroGardenParty.com and www.facebook.com/BoroGardenParty.

    April 9: Perennial Plant Society sale -- one of Nashville's top gardening events hosted by the Perennial Plant Society of Middle Tennessee. More than 450 varieties of shrubs, roses, vines, perennials and annuals, plus garden experts on hand to offer advice. Sale at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds opens at 9 a.m. - noon or until plants run out (arrive early!).

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Banish the Bradford pear

QUESTION: When should Bradford pear trees be pruned? Is now a good time? How far back should you prune them?

Bradford pear trees are the first to flower in spring, but they are not a good choice for landscape trees.

I’ll answer the last question first, and echo the thoughts of many landscape and forestry experts who believe that these trees should get just one pruning cut – about an inch above the ground.

Seriously, Bradford pears (Pyrus calleryana Bradford’) are not good landscape trees, no matter how lovely they are this time of year. They live fast and die young – a 25-year-old Bradford pear is probably near the end of its life. Because their heavy limbs grow at narrow angles, they tend to split apart. And because they shoot up so quickly and easily, this import from China has been placed on alert as a possible threat by the Tennessee Exotic Pest Plant Council. So, is it time to reconsider?

But back to the question: It’s good to prune trees in late winter, while they’re still dormant. As you are no doubt aware if you’re in Middle Tennessee, “late winter” now seems to mean the same as “spring,” and most things are no longer dormant. So if you need to prune, do it now, before the tree leafs out fully and you can still see the branch structure easily.

Really, though, wouldn’t you rather have something else? Landscape professionals suggest a couple of good native alternatives to the Bradford pear: downy serviceberry (Amelanchier arboria), which has white flowers in spring, dark green foliage in summer and red berries in the fall; and Fringe tree (Chionanthus virginicus), white flowers, green leaves, small blue-black fruit enjoyed by birds in the fall.

Either would be better than a Bradford pear, guaranteed.

 

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