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  • March garden tips & tasks

    If your fescue lawn looks a little skimpy, overseed early this month. Fescue grows best when the weather is still cool.

    Clip dead stems from perennial herbs – thyme, sage, lavender, rosemary. Pruning encourages vigorous new growth.

    Prune nandinas, flowering quince and other airy shrubs by reaching in and removing about a third of the branches at ground level.

    Remove mulch or leaves that may be covering perennials in garden beds.

    Prepare a new garden bed: Have the soil tested (check with your county’s Extension service). Remove grass and dig or till soil 8 to 10 inches deep and mix with soil amendments and organic matter to improve drainage.

    Add fertilizer lightly to perennials as soon as you see new growth. Too much fertilizer may result in lanky growth.

    Herb transplants that don’t mind cool weather -- parsley, cilantro, sage, oregano – can go in the ground now.

    When you cut daffodils to bring inside, cut the stems at an angle and place them in water right away. Change the water in the vase daily to keep them fresh longer.

    Save the date - Middle Tennessee garden events

    The Perennial Plant Society's annual Plant Sale will be April 8, opening at 9 a.m. at The Fairgrounds Nashville. The sale offers newly released and hard-to-find perennials from top local nurseries -- more than 450 varieties of perennials, vines, grasses, shrubs and annuals. The event supports local scholarships for Tennessee horticulture students and monthly gardening programs, open to the public, at Cheekwood Botanical Gardens. For information visit www.ppsmtn.org.

    The Herb Society of Nashville's annual Herb Sale will be April 29, 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. at The Fairgrounds Nashville. The sale will offer heirloom vegetables, rare varieties of perennial and annual herbs, handmade pottery herb markers and more. To learn more, visit herbsocietynashville.org.

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Boxwood pruning, and May fairs, sales & tours

If boxwoods need trimming, try to get the job done in late winter or early spring, before new growth begins.

QUESTION: Our boxwoods have a few limbs at the bottom that have lost their leaves and appear dead. Is it safe to trim boxwoods at this time of year?

If the limbs are dead, cut them off. No matter what time of year it is, dead limbs serve no useful purpose. If the rest of the shrub seems healthy, those lower limbs may have died because they haven’t received enough sun, or from mower damage. “But boxwoods are pretty good about repairing themselves,” says Randall Lantz, a horticulturist who has a lot of experience with these popular landscape shrubs.

The ideal time to trim boxwood is late winter or early spring, before new growth begins. It’s not a good idea to trim late in the summer. New growth that may follow the trim will not have a chance to harden before winter, and tender new leaves could be killed. Pruning out dead limbs now shouldn’t be a problem, thought. “They’re very forgiving shrubs,” Lantz says.

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