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  • Upcoming Garden Events in Middle Tennessee

    March 1 – 4: Nashville Lawn & Garden Show, Fairgrounds Nashville. The annual all-indoors garden event that features live garden displays, lectures, vendors, floral designs and special programming Wine Festival featuring Tennessee wines is Saturday (March 3), noon – 5 p.m. For more information on the events and the complete lecture schedule, visit www.nashvillelawnandgardenshow.com.

    April 7: Perennial Plant Sale hosted by the Perennial Plant Society of Middle Tennessee  at The Fairgrounds Nashville. Find newly released and hard-to-find perennials along with a wide range of tried and tested varieties, all from top local nurseries. The sale opens at 9 a.m. and usually sells out by early afternoon. For more information, visit www.ppsmtn.org.

    April 14: Herb & Plant Sale hosted by The Herb Society of Nashville, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m., at The Fairgrounds Nashville Sports Arena building. The sale offers common and rare varieties of herbs and heirloom vegetables and handmade pottery and herb markers by artist Roy Overcast for sale. For more information and a list of available plants, visit herbsocietynashville.org.

    May 12: Hosta sale hosted by the Middle Tennessee Hosta Society. Proceeds from the sale support the club’s activities. More information about the MTHS is at www.mths-hosta.com.

    May 19: Urban Gardening Festival hosted by Master Gardeners of Davidson County, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. at the Master Gardeners’ Demonstration Garden at Ellington Agricultural Center (5201 Marchant Drive in Nashville). The free event includes information about a variety of gardening methods and techniques, local artisans, exhibits, growers and more. For information, visit www.mgofdc.org/ugf.

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April garden tips & tasks

Dogwood blossomsSpring — however capricious it may be — has arrived, and it’s time to head back outdoors, keeping an eye on the weather. Gardeners in Middle Tennessee, Zone 7a, where The Garden Bench calls home, are anxious to get the season started. Warmer areas are already in full swing; if it’s cooler where you are, it’s getting close!

Here’s what’s on your garden to-do list for April.

Early this month

Rosemary

Refresh hardy herbs by trimming dead foliage.

Did your hardy herbs survive winter? Trim dead foliage of sage, rosemary, thyme, oregano and other cold-damaged herbs. Replant those that didn’t make it through the freezing weather.

Trees and shrubs planted in spring need plenty of water during the first year of growth, especially as the weather gets warmer.

Set out hummingbird feeders to welcome the birds back to your garden. Hummingbird nectar recipe: one part sugar to four parts water. It’s not necessary to use red food coloring.

Plant your favorite herbs: parsley, sage, thyme, rosemary can be planted early in the month. Basil and dill are more tender herbs, so wait a bit longer to be sure the weather is warm enough.

To have a big display of flowers in summer, sow seeds and plant summer-flowering bulbs in April: zinnias, sunflowers, cleome, cosmos and other summertime favorites.

Mid-April

Get rid of weeds while they’re small and easy to pull. Use mulch to keep weed growth (and weed-pulling) to a minimum.

coleus

Set out bedding plants after the last frost date.

Mid-April marks the official last-frost date in Middle Tennessee, and it’s usually safe to set out warm-weather bedding plants such as petunias, coleus and begonias, and vegetable transplants — tomatoes, peppers, eggplants. But keep an eye on the weather. Spring is unpredictable!

Sow seeds of okra, cucumbers, squash, beans, melons, and other kitchen-garden favorites.

Don’t skimp on mulch. Use it to keep weed growth (and weed-pulling) to a minimum, and to help keep the soil moist in annual, perennial and vegetable beds.

Remove the dead flowers and stalks of daffodils, tulips and hyacinths, but leave the foliage until it turns yellow. This is the time spring-flowering bulbs build up energy to bloom again next year.

Later this month

If you don’t have space for a kitchen garden, at least plant herbs in a pot. Some favorite container combinations for cooks: parsley, basil and thyme; rosemary sage and chives; mint, basil and dill. Remember to water containers frequently as summer weather approaches.

Azalea The Garden Bench

Prune azaleas shortly after they bloom.

The best time to prune azaleas, flowering quince, forsythia, lilac and other early-flowering shrubs is right after they finish blooming. These plants begin forming buds for next year’s flowers on this year’s growth.

Many houseplants thrive in shady, protected spots outdoors. Place them where they won’t get blown by strong winds, pelted by hard rain or disturbed by marauding animals.

If you plant shrubs and trees this spring, make sure they get plenty of water during their first year of growth, especially as the weather gets warmer.

Provide about an inch of water a week to lawns and garden beds.

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