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  • Garden events in Middle Tennessee

    July 5: The Nashville African Violet Club will meet at 2 p.m. at Grace United Methodist Church, 2905 N. Mt. Juliet Rd, Mount Juliet, TN 37122.  For more information, contact Julie at  Julie.mavity@gmail.com  or 615-364-8459.

    July 7: Nashville Rose Society meets at Cheekwood’s Botanic Hall, refreshments and beginners program at 6:30; main program begins at 7 p.m. Open to the public. www.nashvillerosesociety.com.

    July 9: Nashville Public Library Seed Exchange program, “Home Canning in 2015 – Be Safe and Successful,” 6 – 7:30 p.m. at the Green Hills Library. www.library.nashville.org/info/seedexchange.asp.

    July 11: Nashville Public Library Seed Exchange program, “What is Wrong With My Tomato Plants?” 10:30 a.m. – noon at the Main Library Conference Center. www.library.nashville.org/info/seedexchange.asp.

    July 12: The Tennessee Gesneriad Society will meet at 2 p.m. at Cheekwood, in Botanic Hall. The program will be a slide show of the international flower show from the Gesneriad Society convention.  For more info contact Julie at Julie.mavity@gmail.com or 615-364-8459.

    July 18: A Rotten Good Time! at Shelby Bottoms Nature Center. Learn how vegetable scraps from the kitchen garden can be turned into compost to use on plants in the garden. Christie Wiser leads this all-ages program. Call 615-862-8539 or email shelbybottomsnature@nashville.gov to register.

    July 18: Nashville Public Library Seed Exchange program, “Preparing Your Garden for Winter,” 10 – 11 a.m. at the Donelson Library. www.library.nashville.org/info/seedexchange.asp.

    July 18: Nashville Public Library Seed Exchange program, “Gardening with Native Plants with Margie Hunter,” 11 a.m., Goodlettsville Library. www.library.nashville.org/info/seedexchange.asp.

    July 21: Perennial Plant Society meets at Cheekwood’s Botanic Hall. Feature speaker is UT’s Carol Reese; topic is Four Seasons in the Garden, spotlighting seasonal favorites. Refreshments at 6:30 p.m., meeting begins at 7 and is open to all. www.ppsmt.org.

    July 22: Garden cooking at Warner Park Nature Center. Create a nutritious treat using the bountiful produce from the organic garden, 10 a.m. - noon. Nature Center staff leads this class for kids age 6 – 12. www.nashville.gov/Parks-and-Recreation.aspx.

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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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