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  • March garden tips & tasks

    If your fescue lawn looks a little skimpy, overseed early this month. Fescue grows best when the weather is still cool.

    Clip dead stems from perennial herbs – thyme, sage, lavender, rosemary. Pruning encourages vigorous new growth.

    Prune nandinas, flowering quince and other airy shrubs by reaching in and removing about a third of the branches at ground level.

    Remove mulch or leaves that may be covering perennials in garden beds.

    Prepare a new garden bed: Have the soil tested (check with your county’s Extension service). Remove grass and dig or till soil 8 to 10 inches deep and mix with soil amendments and organic matter to improve drainage.

    Add fertilizer lightly to perennials as soon as you see new growth. Too much fertilizer may result in lanky growth.

    Herb transplants that don’t mind cool weather -- parsley, cilantro, sage, oregano – can go in the ground now.

    When you cut daffodils to bring inside, cut the stems at an angle and place them in water right away. Change the water in the vase daily to keep them fresh longer.

    Save the date - Middle Tennessee garden events

    The Perennial Plant Society's annual Plant Sale will be April 8, opening at 9 a.m. at The Fairgrounds Nashville. The sale offers newly released and hard-to-find perennials from top local nurseries -- more than 450 varieties of perennials, vines, grasses, shrubs and annuals. The event supports local scholarships for Tennessee horticulture students and monthly gardening programs, open to the public, at Cheekwood Botanical Gardens. For information visit www.ppsmtn.org.

    The Herb Society of Nashville's annual Herb Sale will be April 29, 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. at The Fairgrounds Nashville. The sale will offer heirloom vegetables, rare varieties of perennial and annual herbs, handmade pottery herb markers and more. To learn more, visit herbsocietynashville.org.

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A daisy dilemma

I planted a perennial garden several years back. In the past two years, the Shasta daisies have spread and are taking over the whole garden. I have dug several up but the roots are numerous. Should I just spray them to kill them?

DaisiesWhen you read comments about Shasta daisies on garden websites, it’s clear that gardeners either love them or hate them. Love them because these daisies (Leucanthemum, in botanical nomenclature) are easy to grow and bloom reliably year after year; hate them because they can be aggressive and can, indeed, muscle out plants that are more well-behaved.

Spraying is risky, and I never recommend it. I assume you’re thinking about using something like Roundup or other weed killers that contain glyphosate. It would most likely kill the daisies, but since it’s a non-selective herbicide, that means it will kill or damage everything else it happens to drift onto. Plus, the ingredients in these products have been found to have adverse health effects. I wouldn’t recommend using it. If you decide to try it, be sure to follow directions on the label.

In my own garden, the daisy bed is encroaching on a patch of ‘May Night’ salvia, a small new hydrangea and a prized peony, but it’s a small enough patch that I can dig up or rip out about half of it every year and that keeps it within its boundaries. Daisies are tough and long-lasting. You can be ruthless in your digging and dividing, and they seem to always come back stronger. A few years ago, I dug up and mailed plants to a gardening friend at the other end of the state, and she reports that they are doing just fine.

I keep them around because they are so reliable, have a long blooming period, and are perky and cheerful in the mid-summer heat. My garden gets less than full sun where the Shasta daisies are planted, but they tolerate the lightly shaded conditions and bloom well. Butterflies love them, and they are great as cut flowers because they last a long time in a vase.

If you no longer want the daisies, you could also dig them up and dispose of them, unless the patch is so large now that it’s an impossible task. How about inviting gardening friends over to dig up what they want and take them out of your garden?

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2 Responses

  1. I want some, I want some! I do not have daisies but I have a good placer for them–but this reply is really about garden-sharing. A couple of weeks ago, I posted a notice on our neighborhood website inviting neighbors to come over for monarda, yarrow, gold moss sedum, iris, English ivy, liriope, and Heavenly Bamboo nandina. I was thinning, and I cannot bear to throw out a live plant.

    Four new friends, young, first-time homeowners, came for the plants over the weekend. We talked gardening and lifted plants to fill buckets, bags, and wagons. Some took baby crape myrtles and lily-of-the-valley in addition to the others. One brought me lemon balm. All promised to take–and share–photos of their gardens year after year.

    On Wednesday, I saw a post on Craigslist for free plants: daylilies, thyme, anemone poppies, hypericum, scented geranium, French tarragon…. It was the tarragon that grabbed me. No phone number and advice not to email, just “come on over, I’ll be outside.”

    Nancy, a Master Gardener, and I became fast friends. I came home with all of the above and more, especially a great admiration for fellow gardeners. I was rewarded ten-fold!

    • Diana, it’s amazing how quickly gardeners can become friends, isn’t it? I also have daisies to dig up. Come on over if you want some of them!

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