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  • Garden events in Middle Tennessee

    May 2: Middle Tennessee Iris Society Show, Ed Jones Auditorium, Ellington Agricultural Center, 440 Hogan Road, 1:30 – 4:30 p.m. No charge for admission. The MTIS iris garden at Ellington is also open to visitors. www.middletnirisociety.org.

    May 2: Master Gardeners of Rutherford County 4th annual Plant and Seed Swap. Bring plants to swap with other gardeners in the community. There will also be displays and demonstrations, a silent auction, and Master Gardeners available to answer gardening questions at Lane Agri-Park in Murfreesboro, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. www.mastergardeners-rc.org.

    May 3: Mid-State Iris Association’s annual Iris Show at Franklin Synergy Bank, 1 East College Street in Murfreesboro, 1:30 – 5 p.m. Open to the public with no admission charge.

    May 3: The Nashville African Violet Club will meet at 2 p.m. at Grace United Methodist Church, 2905 N. Mt. Juliet Rd, Mount Juliet. The program will be a propagation workshop. For more information, contact Julie at julie.mavity@gmail.com or 615-364-8459.

    May 9: Middle Tennessee Hosta Society’s annual hosta and companion plant sale, 8:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the YMCA Maryland Farms in Brentwood. The tentative plant list is available at www.mths-hosta.com.

    May 16: The Master Gardeners of Davidson County’s Urban Gardening Festival, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. at the Demonstration Garden at Ellington Agricultural Center, 5201 Marchant Dr. Garden demonstrations, exhibitors, vendors from throughout the greater Nashville area. https://mgofdc.wildapricot.org

    May 17: The Tennessee Gesneriad Society will meet at Cheekwood in Botanic hall at 2 p.m. Frank Hale will discuss pests of indoor plants.  For more info contact Julie at julie.mavity@gmail.com or 615-364-8459.

    May 19: Perennial Plant Society meeting at Cheekwood’s Botanic Hall, refreshments at 6:30 p.m. and meeting begins at 7. Speaker is Linda Lanier of the Memphis Hydrangea Society. The event is open to the public.

    May 23 – 24: Nashville Rose Show, sponsored by the Nashville Rose Society, in Ed Jones Auditorium at Ellington Agricultural Center, 440 Hogan Road. The show will be open for public viewing 1 – 4:30 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Sunday. Seminars on growing roses will be held at 1:30 p.m. each day. The event is free. www.nashvillerosesociety.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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