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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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Gardenia is worth pampering

I received a gardenia plant in a 3-gallon plastic pot and a large, beautiful ceramic pot to plant it in for Mother’s Day. It’s outdoors in an area that receives part sun. Only one bloom has opened, but it’s full of buds and will be covered in white flowers soon, I hope. When should I repot it into the new pot? Are gardenias hardy in Middle Tennessee?

GardeniaIf buds have formed since you received this lovely gift, I’d wait to repot it until after it has finished blooming. Gardenias don’t always settle into a new environment easily, and a typical response to such a move is to stop flowering.

After the flowers fade, get ready to pamper this temperamental beauty. I spent some time gathering information about growing gardenias in our area (Middle Tennessee is in USDA Hardiness Zone 7a), and must report that “finicky” is a word often used to describe this beautiful, fragrant shrub.

Gardenias grow best in the ground in Zones 8 – 10, the lower south. For those of us living up north – that is, north of Birmingham or Atlanta – gardenias are not hardy, so they should be treated as house plants, which means that when the temperature drops below 55 degrees, you will have to bring it indoors or into a greenhouse and baby it through the winter. Take it back outdoors when the temperature is consistently warm next spring.

In the house, gardenia requires a sunny spot that gets about eight hours of indirect sunlight. It also becomes a magnet for mealybugs, mites and whiteflies, so you should remain vigilant, and be prepared to treat for pests before they get out of hand.

In spite of the challenges, it’s still worth growing this lovely shrub. Here’s what it needs to thrive: acid soil (one information source suggests good potting soil with a handful of coffee grounds mixed in), good drainage, full sun or partial shade, regular watering, high humidity, and nighttime temperatures of 50 – 55 degrees in winter and spring if you want flowers. Good luck.

 

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