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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 – September

    Cut the dead tops of coneflowers, but leave enough for goldfinches to enjoy the seeds.

    Plant cool-weather vegetables for a fall crop: spinach, mustard and turnip greens, radishes, leaf lettuce.

    Start a new lawn of cool-season grass, such as fescue, or refurbish or repair establish lawns.

    Don’t let the soil of newly planted grass dry out. New grass needs about an inch of water per week.

    It’s still warm, so continue to water and weed garden beds as needed.

    Remove dead foliage, spent flowers and other garden debris; replenish mulch as needed.

    Continue to harvest produce, which may be getting a boost now from slightly cooler weather. Keep watering sage, rosemary and other perennial herbs so they’ll be in good shape to get through winter.

    Prepare to bring houseplants back indoors: remove dead leaves, scrub soil from the sides of the pots, treat for insects. Bring tropical plants in before nighttime temperatures dip to 55 degrees.

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Foxgloves for sun or shade

I planted several transplants of foxgloves in a garden bed last year and they bloomed and grew well. I thought they were annuals and would die when winter came, and I was surprised to see that they have come back. What can you tell me about them?

Foxglove-webFoxgloves, with their low-growing foliage and tall, dramatic flower spikes, are biennials, blooming in their second year, or short-lived perennials, according to the National Gardening Association. In a garden bed that contains foxgloves, the foliage begins to appear in spring, and by late spring or early summer they are usually ready to bloom.

They’re a nice addition to a garden bed because they’re low-maintenance, high-impact plants. They don’t need all-day sun to grow well (in fact, they’re good for gardens in light shade and woodland areas, NGA says). And while individual plants may not come back year after year, they multiply readily by self-sowing, so under the right conditions you can have foxgloves in your garden for years.

Foxgloves grow best in moist, well-drained soil. Plant transplants in early spring, or sow seeds in summer. With seeds, the first season’s growth will be a ground-hugging rosette of leaves; flower spikes will appear the second season, the plant will drop its seeds, and the cycle begins again.

One cautionary note: foxgloves leaves contain digitalis, and are considered poisonous.

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