• Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • Upcoming events in Middle Tennessee

     

    Save the Date: Perennial Plant Society’s 30th Plant Sale is April 4, 2020, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. at the new Expo 3 Building at The Fairgrounds Nashville. Here’s where you can find the newest varieties of perennials, shrubs, vines and annuals from local growers, along with long-time, never-fail favorites, ready for spring planting. Learn more at the PPS website.

     

  • Categories

  • Archives

Herbs, garden color, and a Book Giveaway!

I’m planning to grow an herb garden for the first time. When is the best time to set out transplants?

Basil

Wait until warm weather to plant any type of basil.

Now that spring is definitely on the way, of course we’re anxious to get things planted, and the herb garden is a good place to start. Some herbs can withstand chilly temperatures, and may already be available at nurseries or garden centers. Herbs that are more hardy – sage, thyme, oregano, parsley, cilantro, rosemary – can be set out very early, but to be safe (and depending on the climate in your area) you may want to wait until closer to the last frost date. (That’s around mid-April in USDA Hardiness Zone 7a, where The Garden Bench calls home).

Tender herbs such as basil absolutely will not tolerate cold weather, and you should

Parsley

Parsley can withstand a chill, and can be planted now.

wait until after the last frost date – or even a few days longer, just in case — to set out transplants.

In general, herbs grow best in well-drained soil in a spot that gets full sun, but there are a few herbs that do well in partial sun or partial shade. Garden author Judy Lowe lists chives, cilantro, lavender, lemon balm, parsley and sweet bay as plants that tolerate a little shade.

And for aspiring gardeners without a place to dig, herbs do well in containers — alone or planted with other herbs in a garden arrangement. At the appropriate time, set transplants in containers in good potting soil. Place them in a sunny spot on the deck, porch or patio, and keep the containers well-watered.

Color all year long – And a book giveaway!

Nellie Neal lo res

Nellie Neal photo by Dave Ingram

Nellie Neal’s appreciation for color in the landscape began while she was college.

“I became aware of this garden that was on my route every day. I noticed that it didn’t matter what day of the year it was, there was something going on that was worth a look.” She watched throughout the cycle of the year: where the azaleas bloomed, where the gardenias flowered. In winter, where the shrubs held gorgeous berries.

“It’s really when I became enamored with how the colors and the form go together to create this effect.”

Today, Nellie is a garden writer and radio host living in Jackson, Miss. and the author color garden book jacket lo resof The Nonstop Color Garden, a guide to designing flowering landscapes for year-round enjoyment.

Nellie offers some of her garden color tips in a story in today’s Style section in The Tennessean. Here at The Garden Bench, I’m giving away a copy of the book.

Leave a comment at the end of this post about your favorite season for color — or just name a color you like. Respond by 6 p.m. Friday, March 20, 2015 and your name will go into a drawing to win a copy of Nellie Neal’s The Nonstop Color Garden.

Peonies may suffer in wet weather

QUESTION: Some years our peonies bloom beautifully for several weeks, but sometimes the buds die before they open, or black spots develop on some of the plants and the leaves curl and die. Can you tell me what I’m doing wrong?

Peonies may develop botrytis, a fungal blight, in cool, wet weather.

Peonies may develop botrytis, a fungal blight, in cool, wet weather.

Sometimes it’s not anything you’re doing wrong. You may be able to blame the peony’s problem on the weather. Wet, cool weather provides perfect conditions for a fungal disease called botrytis, or gray mold.
Extension agents note that botrytis flourishes on a lot of plants this time of year if there is not enough sunshine and a lot of wet weather. There is a specific fungus, Botrytis paeoniae, that infects only peonies.
The blight can infect the young shoots as they emerge early in spring, and can infect buds or flowers at any stage. On plants that are in bud, the buds may swell but will die before they open. The infection can move into the stem and cause spots and discoloration. If the infection is severe, the leaves will turn brown and die back prematurely.
Good garden practices can help keep Botrytis from damaging the peonies. Inspect the plants and remove any parts covered in gray mold; place them in a bag to be discarded (don’t put them in the compost). Do this on a day when the weather is dry to avoid spreading the fungus. In the fall, clean up dead foliage and debris, cut the peony stalks at ground level and discard the debris to reduce the chance of the fungus spores returning the following spring.

May Garden  Calendar

May is planting time in Middle Tennessee. Food or flowers? Why not both? See the May Landscape & Garden Calendar in The  Tennessean for five ornamental and edible plants for your landscape.
Garden events in Middle Tennessee
May 4
Carmen Johnston, a Garden Lifestyle Expert for Southern Living Plant Collection, will host a session on spring-inspired ideas using the Southern Living Plant Collection Designer Series container gardens. The event starts at 10:30 a.m. at Home Depot on Moore’s Lane in Brentwood.
May 10
National Public Gardens Day at Cheekwood, celebrating public gardens and Cheekwood’s role in promoting environmental stewardship, plant conservation and community education. Live music in the Herb Garden 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.; guided garden tours on the hour. Special presentation with Cheekwood president Jane Offenbach at 1 p.m. Learn how to receive free admission at http://www.nationalpublicgardensday.org. More info at http://www.cheekwood.org.
May 11: Spring Festival & Plant Sale presented by the Wilson County Master Gardener Association. Guest speakers, demonstrations, food and concessions, gift baskets, crafts, gifts; flower garden and arboretum tours by tram. 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. at the James E. Ward Agricultural Center at Wilson County Fairgrounds in Lebanon, Tenn. Free admission and free parking.
May 11
Middle Tennessee Hosta Society sale, dozens of hosta varieties available. Sale opens at 8 a.m. at the Maryland Farms YMCA in Brentwood.
May 11
Robertson County Master Gardeners plant sale, 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. (rain or shine), County Extension Plaza, 408 North Main St. (corner of North Main & 5th Ave.), Springfield, Tenn. For information: http://www.rcmga.org.
May 11: Wilson County Master Gardeners Spring Festival & Plant Sale, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. at the James E. Ward Agricultural Center, Wilson County Fairgrounds in Lebanon, Tenn. Speakers, demonstrations, food and concessions, crafts, gifts; garden and arboretum tram tours. Free admission and parking. http://wcmastergardener.org.
May 21: Perennial Plant Society of Middle Tennessee meets at Cheekwood’s Botanic Hall. Speaker is Jimmy Williams from Paris, Tenn, on “The Perennial Border from February through December.” Refreshments at 6:30, meeting at 7 p.m.
May 23: Middle Tennessee Hosta Society meets at Cheekwood’s Potter Room, 7 p.m. Featured speaker is Jason Rives, owner of Petals From the Past in Jemison. Ala.; topic is “Incorporating Antique Roses into the Hosta garden.”