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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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Rosemary may suffer indoors

QUESTION: We received a potted rosemary plant as a Christmas gift. According to the plant marker, it is a variety called ‘Arp.’ It was fresh and green when we got it, but now the leaves are beginning to turn brown. What is the best way to take care of it?

RosemaryThose rosemary topiaries and the miniature rosemary Christmas trees are popular gifts for cooks and gardeners during the holidays. Unfortunately, they don’t always live as long as you might expect.

Some sources with information on houseplants say that rosemary is one of the culinary herbs that can be grown outdoors in summer and brought in during winter. But rosemary has specific needs that are not easily met in some indoor environments.

To grow well indoors, a rosemary plant, which is really a tender perennial shrub, requires bright light — four or more hours a day of direct sun, or about 14 hours of supplemental fluorescent light. In addition, it likes warm temperatures in spring and summer, and cooler (45 – 70 degrees) in fall and winter. It also likes fairly humid conditions, and the air in an average home may be too dry for the plant to thrive.

While you have it indoors, give the rosemary as much light and humidity as possibly (a daily misting may help). Allow the soil to dry slightly between waterings, but don’t let it dry completely.

‘Arp’ is one of the hardiest rosemary varieties. Plant it outdoors in early spring (full sun, but it also does fine with a little bit of shade), in soil that drains well. If you plant it in a sheltered location, there’s a good chance that it will last in the garden for many years here in Zone 7a.

Garden events in Middle Tennessee

Feb. 16: Backyard Sustainable Gardening workshops sponsored by Hands On Nashville and led by Cliff Davis of Spiral Ridge Permaculture. Day-long mini-course introduces the theory behind permaculture and offers hands-on training. Learn the basics of permaculture. Workshops will take place at the nands On Nashville Urban Farm, 361 Wimpole Drive. Learn more and register here.

Feb. 19: Perennial Plant Society meets at Cheekwood, beginning with plant swap and refreshments at 6:30, program at 7 p.m. Guest speaker is Marshall Allen, founder and owner of Allen Landscape Management; the topic is “Design using hardscape, various types of plants and other features of interest.” No charge for admission, and the public is invited.

Feb. 20: Orchid Society of Middle Tennessee meets at CheekwoodBotanical Garden. The program is on Phalaenopsis orchids. Refreshments at 6:30, and the program begins at 7 p.m. There is no admission, and the meeting is open to the public. No admission to Cheekwood and the meeting is open to the public.

Indoors gardens for inspiration at the Nashville Lawn & Garden Show.

Indoors gardens for inspiration at the Nashville Lawn & Garden Show.

Feb. 28 – March 3:Nashville Lawn & Garden Show at the TennesseeState Fairgrounds. More than 20 live gardens (all indoors!) by local landscape professionals; a series of free lectures by expert horticulturists and garden designers, and 250 booths of horticultural products, services and equipment for show and sale. Hours are 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. Feb. 28, March 1 and 2, and 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. March 3. This annual event is produced by the Horticultural Association of Tennessee. Learn more here.

March 16: Backyard Sustainable Gardening workshops sponsored by Hands On Nashville and led by Cliff Davis of Spiral Ridge Permaculture. Day-long mini-course introduces the theory behind permaculture and offers hands-on training. Learn the basics of permaculture. Workshops will take place at the nands On Nashville Urban Farm, 361 Wimpole Drive. Learn more and register here.

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