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  • Garden events in Middle Tennessee

    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!).www.ppsmt.org.

    April 16: Herb Society of Nashville plant sale, featuring hundreds of garden-ready annual and perennial ornamental and culinary herb plants, along with a new seminar series focusing on ways to use herbs in the garden. 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the Fairgrounds Nashville Sports Arena Building. Free admission; the Fairgrounds charges a $5 fee to park.www.herbsocietynashville.org.

    April 30: First Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashville Herb & Craft Fair 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. at the church, 1808 Woodmont Blvd. Top-quality herb plants, heirloom tomato plants and a selection of native plants for sale, along with pressed-flower art, cards, jewelry and gifts, handmade scented soaps, homemade sweet and yeast breads, spice mixes, sauces, jams and jellies and other items. Admission is free (https://thefuun.org/herb-craft-fair).

    May 7: Middle Tennessee Hosta Society sale at the Maryland Farms YMCA in Brentwood. Information about the Hosta Society is atwww.mths-hosta.com.

    May 21: Master Gardeners of Davidson County Urban Gardening Festival -- Exhibits, demonstrations, vendors, information sessions, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. at the Demonstration Garden at Ellington Agricultural Center. Admission is free. https://mgofdc.wildapricot.org.

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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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