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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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Disappearing columbine

The columbine that I planted about three years ago usually starts coming up in March, but it hasn’t started growing this year. Could something have killed it?

Although it self-seeds, columbine is a short-lived perennial.

Although it self-seeds , columbine is a short-lived perennial.

Columbine (Aquilegia is the botanical name), with its lacy leaves and bell-shaped flowers, is a nice addition to spring gardens. It’s a relatively short-lived perennial, however, that owes any sense of longevity to a habit of prolific self-seeding. The original plant may last only two or three years.

It’s also pretty sturdy, despite its delicate appearance. Different varieties of the plants, with their distinctive spurred flowers, range in shades from pure white and light pastels to yellow, red, orange and purple.

Columbine is susceptible to a couple of problems, though, according to the National Gardening Association. The insect larvae called leaf miners leave tan-colored winding tunnels as they feed inside the delicate leaves. If you see this on the foliage, NGA suggest you cut off and destroy the “mined” leaves after the plants have bloomed. New leaves will grow later in the season.

Powdery mildew, a fungal disease, can also affect the foliage, particularly when daytime temperatures are warm and nights are cool. NGA suggests planting in a location that receives afternoon sun and has plenty of air circulation around the plants. If powdery mildew develops, they suggest cutting back the affected parts.

Despite these issues, don’t hesitate to plant more this spring. Select a spot with fertile, well-drained soil in full sun or light or partial shade, loosen the soil to about 12 inches deep and mix in a generous layer of compost. Dig a wide hole, about twice the diameter of the container it’s in, remove the plant from the pot and place it in the hole with the top of the root ball level with the surface of the soil. Fill in and firm the soil around the root ball, and water thoroughly.

In The Tennessean: Four unheralded herbs, “Herbs you may not know about, but need to,” can add culinary interest to your garden this spring. Tap here to read the story in The Tennessean.

Also in The Tennessean: Three popular plant sales are on the calendar this month.

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