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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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Prune boxwood in winter

Our boxwoods are quite large – too large for the space they’re in. I meant to cut them back last summer but never got around to it. Is it too late to prune them now?

boxwoodMost boxwoods don’t require regular pruning unless you’re keeping them sheared in a formal garden space, but if you need to control the size of the shrub, now – or late winter to early spring – is actually the best time to do the job.

Rather than shearing it back to a smaller size, though, consider the more precise process of thinning the shrub to control its size. The editors of the Mid-South Garden Guide, a hefty volume originally published in 1954 by the Memphis Garden Club, include an extensive description of the care of the boxwoods, including best practices for pruning these traditional landscape shrubs.

Begin to reduce the size of an old shrub by removing 6” – 8” of growth over the entire plant, and thin down into the interior stems to a point where new growth is visible, they suggest. Is some cases, it may be best to do this in stages over a two- or three-year period.

To thin the shrub, reach inside the plant with a pair of loppers or pruning shears to remove some of the older and longer limbs back to a branch point or to the main trunk. This reduces the overall size of the shrub, but it also produces a healthier plant by opening up the interior to more light and air circulation. The more flexible stems won’t break as easily under a heavy load of ice or snow.

In general, boxwoods do well in good, well-drained soil and light or dappled shade. They do best where they receive plenty of moisture all year.

Garden event in Middle Tennessee: The annual Antiques and Garden Show of Nashville kicks off for a stylish weekend Feb. 3 – 5, 2017. This year’s keynote speaker is acclaimed interior designer Nate Berkus, and the four gardens promise to be spectacular. The story in The Tennessean.



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