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  • January garden tips & tasks

    Begin a garden journal. Use it to jot down ideas and lists of plants you want to grow this year.

    Keep bird feeders filled to attract a wide variety of winged visitors to your garden in winter.

    If you bring home new houseplants, protect them from the cold air on the trip home. Once you bring them in, keep them separate from other plants for a few days to watch for pests.

    When the ground freezes and thaws, plants can be pushed out of the ground – a process known as “heaving.” If this happens, tuck the roots back into the soil and cover the area with a layer of mulch.

    You can grow herbs on a sunny windowsill indoors, but pinch them back regularly to keep them from getting tall and “leggy.”

    Birds also need water in winter, so provide water in a birdbath or shallow pan and change it frequently.

    Winter is a good time to have the soil in your lawn or garden beds tested. The Extension Service in your county can provide materials and instructions for testing.

    Watch for pests on houseplants and tender outdoor plants that spend the winter indoors. If you see evidence of aphids or scale infestations, take action immediately to keep them from spreading to other plants.Save the date

    Save the date

    Planners of the ever-popular Nashville Lawn & Garden Show announce that next spring's show will be March 2 - 5, 2017 at The Fairgrounds Nashville. The theme will celebrate Gardens of the Future with garden displays, lectures, vendors, floral designs, and special features for children. The centerpiece of the all-indoors event is, as always, the walk-through, interactive garden displays from some of Middle Tennessee's top landscape and gardening companies. Free lectures are planned each day on a range of garden-related topics, and visitors can shop the Marketplace with more than 150 vendors. Complete details will be available soon at http://nashvillelawnandgardenshow.com, where you can also sign up for the email newsletter and receive updates.

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Troy Marden’s garden wisdom — and a book giveaway!

Annabelle

‘Annabelle’ hydrangea is among the plants that garden expert Troy Marden recommends.

A friend invited me to a gathering whose guest was the popular Middle Tennessee-based author and garden designer Troy Marden not long ago. He was there to share his considerable knowledge and to talk about his new book, Plant This Instead!, which came out earlier this year. The subtitle is “Better Plant Choices: Prettier, Hardier, Blooms Longer, New Color, Less Work, Drought-Tolerant, Native.”
That’s a lot to cover, but let Troy explain: “It’s a book about making better, more informed choices.”
A book about native plants? “It’s a book about good plants. It’s not all about natives,” he said. “There are tips about how to be successful with new varieties. We don’t like plants that misbehave. This considers what their replacements in our landscape might be.”

What are some of those misbehavin’ garden choices?

“Take beebalm, for example,” Troy says. “You have to manage it.” Specifically, Monarda didyma – that hardy and resilient beebalm that you find everywhere — can be fabulous in bloom. “However, the same characteristics that make it tough and resilient also make it aggressive when it comes to planting it in the garden,” he writes in Plant This Instead!. “Beebalm, like its cousins peppermint and spearmint, has the ability to take over an enormous area of valuable garden real estate in a very short period of time.” It’s one of the plants he calls a “garden thug.”

©Troy B. Marden

©Troy B. Marden

Instead, consider the better-mannered wild bergamot, Monarda fistulosa, or take a look at Eastern beebalm, Monarda bradburiana, which has greater tolerance for drought and resistance to powdery mildew, and which grows in noninvasive clumps.

From garden thugs, the conversation shifted to what is meant – really – by the term “low maintenance” when you’re talking about a garden. In Troy’s world, gardening is not a low-maintenance endeavor.

“What you have to decide is, what does ‘low-maintenance’ mean to you?” he told us. “You have to think about how much you want to have and how much time you want to spend tending to it.”

Plant This book jacketAnd if your idea of a perfect landscape seems overwhelming, here is probably the best bit of wisdom Troy could pass along about growing and enjoying a garden: “Rather than having a huge garden that demands all your time and energy, do what you can in the way that you can do it to the best of your ability.”

Learn more about Troy at his website; catch Troy in person or on TV (he’s a popular and respected plantsman and speaker and one of the hosts on the Nashville Public Television show Volunteer Gardener), or read Plant This Instead!

And here’s a chance to win a free copy of the book!
Leave a comment at the end of this post about your favorite flowers. Respond by Friday Aug. 1 at 6 p.m., and your name will go into a drawing to win a signed copy of Plant This Instead! by Troy B. Marden.
August Garden Calendar
In August, do we really need to think about fall? Yes! It’s time to consider the cool-weather plants in your kitchen garden. See the August Garden Calendar and Garden Events, Tips & Tasks in The Tennessean.

9 Responses

  1. I love hydrangeas, and appreciate Troy Marden’s recommendation of the “Annabelle” hydrangea.

  2. like roses

  3. I love the peony.

  4. I recently bought a plant called “Josephs Coat”. I purchased it in Jackson, Tn after attending the Summer Celebration. I have it planted in a container with three other plants and I am really loving this plant. I need to do some research on this on because it was missing the handy dandy plant info tag. The container arrangement is doing well…. I am just taking it one plant at a time!

  5. I love Rhodos and the peony. Can´t choose which one is my favorite. Love them both 🙂

  6. I’m partial to peonies as well, and also gardenias. And this year in my containers I have the most beautiful begonias I’ve ever grown, so they’re my new favorite annual. As for Troy’s book, I particularly like those tags “blooms longer” and “less work!”

  7. Ironically, I adore bee balm. They were wonderful in my garden in the Hudson Valley because we owned an old farm and we had tons of space. They helped fill it with a sea of colorful blooms. Here, my bee balm suffered from mildew, so I pulled it out. I want to try Monarda Bradburiana – the substitute Troy mentioned and see how it does!

  8. I fell in love with rhododendrons when Dave and I moved into our first house. Someone had planted a rhodie in the hottest spot of the grounds and it looked a bit, well, dead. There were other REALLY dead bushes out there, too. I decided to try to save only the 3-foot rhodie and tucked it into a very narrow north-side yard near the backside of the HVAC unit. The next spring, I happened upon it just as it started to offer the most delicious lavender buds that opened into big white blooms with perfectly lavender centers. It was too big to move when we left, and I planted new white rhododendrons at the new house. Try as I may, I can’t duplicate that first one, but I keep trying.

  9. My favorite flower this summer is hollyhocks. A friend gave me seeds last year and I threw them on the ground. They are 9 to 10 feet tall and glorious! They remind me of my childhood.

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