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  • Garden events in Middle Tennessee

    May 2: Middle Tennessee Iris Society Show, Ed Jones Auditorium, Ellington Agricultural Center, 440 Hogan Road, 1:30 – 4:30 p.m. No charge for admission. The MTIS iris garden at Ellington is also open to visitors. www.middletnirisociety.org.

    May 2: Master Gardeners of Rutherford County 4th annual Plant and Seed Swap. Bring plants to swap with other gardeners in the community. There will also be displays and demonstrations, a silent auction, and Master Gardeners available to answer gardening questions at Lane Agri-Park in Murfreesboro, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. www.mastergardeners-rc.org.

    May 3: Mid-State Iris Association’s annual Iris Show at Franklin Synergy Bank, 1 East College Street in Murfreesboro, 1:30 – 5 p.m. Open to the public with no admission charge.

    May 3: The Nashville African Violet Club will meet at 2 p.m. at Grace United Methodist Church, 2905 N. Mt. Juliet Rd, Mount Juliet. The program will be a propagation workshop. For more information, contact Julie at julie.mavity@gmail.com or 615-364-8459.

    May 9: Middle Tennessee Hosta Society’s annual hosta and companion plant sale, 8:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the YMCA Maryland Farms in Brentwood. The tentative plant list is available at www.mths-hosta.com.

    May 16: The Master Gardeners of Davidson County’s Urban Gardening Festival, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. at the Demonstration Garden at Ellington Agricultural Center, 5201 Marchant Dr. Garden demonstrations, exhibitors, vendors from throughout the greater Nashville area. https://mgofdc.wildapricot.org

    May 17: The Tennessee Gesneriad Society will meet at Cheekwood in Botanic hall at 2 p.m. Frank Hale will discuss pests of indoor plants.  For more info contact Julie at julie.mavity@gmail.com or 615-364-8459.

    May 19: Perennial Plant Society meeting at Cheekwood’s Botanic Hall, refreshments at 6:30 p.m. and meeting begins at 7. Speaker is Linda Lanier of the Memphis Hydrangea Society. The event is open to the public.

    May 23 – 24: Nashville Rose Show, sponsored by the Nashville Rose Society, in Ed Jones Auditorium at Ellington Agricultural Center, 440 Hogan Road. The show will be open for public viewing 1 – 4:30 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Sunday. Seminars on growing roses will be held at 1:30 p.m. each day. The event is free. www.nashvillerosesociety.org.

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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.

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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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