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  • Upcoming Garden Events

    Sept. 30: The Nashville Herb Society presents Through the Garden Gate: A Glimpse of Edwardian England, 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. at Cheekwood Botanic Hall. Celebrate the gardens, foods and flowers that delighted Downton Abby family and friends at the turn of the 20th century. The event begins with a hearty Edwardian breakfast, followed by three speakers: Marta McDowell on Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life; Geraldine A. Laufer on Tussie Mussie – Victorian art of expressing yourself in the language of flowers; and Terry White, The English Garden event florist . Registration includes breakfast, box lunch in the garden with music, English tea and cookies. To learn more or to register, visit www.herbsocietynashvlle.org.

    Tips & tasks – August

    Water lawns and garden beds early in the morning to allow foliage plenty of time to dry before nightfall.

    Container gardens will benefit from a light application of all-purpose fertilizer.

    If petunias have grown long and shaggy, cut them back and give them a dose of fertilizer. They should bloom again quickly.

    If squirrels and birds go after your ripe tomatoes, pick them while they are still green and allow them to turn red indoors. For best quality, don’t store fresh tomatoes in the refrigerator.

    Make sure spring-planted trees and shrubs get plenty of water during hot weather.

    Keep cutting the spent flowers of annuals so they will continue to bloom into the fall.

    To conserve soil moisture during hot weather, replenish mulch in annual and perennial beds as necessary.

    Begin planning a fall garden. Spinach, lettuces, radishes and other fall crops will mature when the weather turns cool.

    Begin clean-up of summer vegetable beds. Remove any decayed or dying foliage to prevent diseases from taking hold.

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Pampas grass has lost its plumes

Our pampas grass has been beautiful for ten years, but this year it did not produce the feathery plumes. What could be the problem?

Pampas grassThere are several possible reasons pampas grass (Cortaderia selloana) doesn’t produce the tall, graceful plumes that we look forward to in late summer. One of the most common seems to be overfertilization. If the grass is near a lawn that was heavily fertilized with nitrogen, it could have affected the plumes. Nitrogen fertilizer tends to grow a lot of greenery at the expense of flowers – or plumes, in the case of ornamental grass.

It may also be due to too little phosphorous in the soil. A soil test can provide the answer, and if it turns out to be a phosphorous deficiency, you can add bone meal to the planting bed. Some sources also say that young clumps of pampas grass may not plume for the first couple of years.

In general, pampas grass grows best in full sun and well-drained soil. It’s a good idea to cut the grass (and all ornamental grasses) back every year in late winter before new growth begins. Wear sturdy gloves (pampas grass’s sawtooth leaves can cut you!) and use hedge trimmers or shears to cut the clump to within about a foot of the ground. Over time, grass that is not cut may die out in the center – one more thing that might affect the formation of the tall, graceful plumes.

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