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  • Garden events in Middle Tennessee

    Jan. 29: Organic Gardening. Discuss topics such as composting, seed starting, planting dates, soil preparation, insects and more with naturalist Deb Beazley, 9 – 10:30 a.m. at Warner Park Nature Center. Call 615-352-6299 to register for this class for ages 13 and up.

    Feb. 6: Birds in the Backyard. Learn about feeders and native landscaping that will attract birds to your garden, led by Vera Vollbrecht, 11 a.m. – noon at Warner Park Nature Center.  Call 615-352-6299 to register for this all-ages class.

    Feb. 12: Planting the seed. Vegetables have begun sprouting in the greenhouse. Naturalist Heather Gallagher leads a class about gardening in winter or age 3 – 5, 10 – 11 a.m. or 1 – 2 p.m. at Warner Park Nature Center. Call 615-352-6299 to register.

    March 3 - 6: Nashville Lawn & Garden Show, live gardens, free lectures, demonstrations, vendor marketplace, floral design gallery at the Fairgrounds Nashville. Information at www.nashvillelawnandgardenshow.com.

    March 18-19: The Garden Party, garden lectures, vendor booths, demonstration, floral arrangements, exhibit of garden and nature-relate art, Friday and Saturday, with a family-friendly garden party event Friday evening, 7 – 11 p.m. featuring music by the band Dixiana, food and non-alcoholic beverages available for purchase. The event will be at the Lane Agri-Park Community Center, 315 John R. Rice Blvd. in Murfreesboro. Tickets are $6 for the daytime event, tickets for the Friday night event are $8; children 13 and under admitted free with a paying adult ticket. To learn more: www.BoroGardenParty.com and www.facebook.com/BoroGardenParty.

    April 9: Perennial Plant Society sale -- one of Nashville's top gardening events hosted by the Perennial Plant Society of Middle Tennessee. More than 450 varieties of shrubs, roses, vines, perennials and annuals, plus garden experts on hand to offer advice. Sale at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds opens at 9 a.m. - noon or until plants run out (arrive early!).

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Prune crape myrtle without committing ‘crape murder’

I have developed my crape myrtles into tree forms. Every year I have to cut back the suckers that grow from the base of the trees at ground level. Is there anything I can do to eliminate the suckers?

Crape myrtleThe suckers that grow from the ground around crape myrtles can be the result of improper pruning. If you top the plants every year (and garden experts sometimes refer to this as “crape murder”) they respond by sending up shoots from the base.

There are many sources for information on pruning crape myrtles, but one good one comes from the Virginia Cooperative Extension of Virginia Tech and Virginia State University. Their suggestion:

Prune crape myrtles as you would any other tree or shrub – by cutting back to a bud, a side branch or a main stem, giving consideration to the ultimate shape of the plant. If you need to cut off only part of a branch, cut above an outward facing bud or side branch. If you need to remove an entire branch, cut just outside the branch collar on the stem, where the branch is attached.

Don’t make random cuts in the middle of a branch or stem. Topping a crape myrtle – or any tree, for that matter – can lead to stem decay and more dead branches. It also encourages the growth of weak shoots at the top of cut stems, which can become top-heavy with flowers and break in a strong wind.

The Virginia Cooperative Extension notes that re-suckering can sometimes by suppressed by applying naphthalene acetic acid after the suckers are pruned. Crape myrtles that are given too much fertilizer may also produce suckers, and have fewer flowers. They advise not to fertilize unless a soil test indicates the need to do so.

The best time to prune crape myrtles has passed for this year. Do the job in late winter or early spring, before new growth begins.

 

This weekend: Beautiful bonsai

bonsai2Bonsai expert Owen Reich invites garden enthusiasts to the Nashville Bonsai Society’s Regional Bonsai Expo July 11 – 13 at Cheekwood Botanical Garden. Reich, Jim Doyle and Young Choe are guest artists, and there will be more than 50 bonsai displays, along with workshops, exhibits and vendors.

The photo above is of a Swamp Rose (Rosa palustris) that Reich collected in Tennessee and trained as a bonsai. “There will be a number of bonsai on display this year created from trees and shrubs native to the United States, as well as high-end bonsai imported from Japan,” he says. The stand in the display was made in Chattanooga by Tom Scott, and the container is a 250 – 300 year-old Chinese container called a Kowatari Shirogochi Pot.

The picture is just a sample of the unique and unusual bonsai on display this weekend. Complete details here.

One Response

  1. This year’s show will be a noteworthy one! People from all over the East Coast and Mid-west will bring tier best bonsai displays for this event. This is not your average side-of-the-road bonsai but true artistic expression via a living media.

    See you there!

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