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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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About this site

Gloria Ballard

Ten years ago, when I was an assistant features editor at The Tennessean, I had the chance to start a weekly column about my hobby, gardening. I called it The Garden Club, and wrote that it was “a place for readers who enjoy gardening to share questions and answers, tips and other items of interest.”

I’m a freelance writer now, still a gardener (Middle Tennessee, USDA Hardiness Zone 7a), and still writing a garden column, though it only runs once a month in The Tennessean as a garden calendar.

But gardeners always have something to learn and something to share, so I’m inviting readers to come to The Garden Bench to find answers, discuss problems and share success stories and information.  I’ll post weekly, as many questions, answers and comments as time allows.

As I told readers back then, gardening is my hobby; my background is in journalism, not horticulture. But there are plenty of horticultural experts in Middle Tennessee, and I call on them, and reach out to the vast stores of information in books and on the internet, to answer your questions, and some of mine, too.

So if you have questions, just ask. I’ll try to find the answers. E-mail me at gloria.ballard@comcast.net.

(And if you want to see what’s happening in my back yard, click over to my garden journal, Turning Toward the Sun.)

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