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  • Garden events in Middle Tennessee

    Aug. 18: Perennial Plant Society meeting at Cheekwood’s Botanic Hall. Speaker is Shera Owen, topic is “People, Plants and their Stories.” Refreshments at 6:30 p.m., meeting at 7 p.m. open to the public. To learn more: http://www.ppsmt.org

    Sept. 6: 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 call 615-364-8459.

    Sept. 12 & 13: The Tennessee Gesneriad Society will have a flower show and sale at Cheekwood in Botanic Hall. The event will be open to the public Sept. 12, 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., and Sept. 13 11 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. To learn more, contact Julie at Julie.mavity@gmail.com or call 615-364-8459.

    Sept. 19: The Herb Society of Nashville's annual Herb Day, 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. Speakers include floral designer Ralph Null, landscape architect and designer Todd Breyer, and chef and caterer Emily Frith. There will also be a variety of vendors, and The Boomerangs will provide entertainment throughout the day. Admission is $42 per person until Aug. 31; $47 beginning Sept. 1, and includes all workshops, entertainment, and lunch. Advance registration is required. Register at http://herbsocietynashville.org, and visit the Herb Society’s Facebook page for updates.

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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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