3810 Whites Creek Pike, Nashville, TN 37207 (615) 876-1014

Archive date:  May 15, 2009

Is it too late to plant?

And other horticultural mind benders…

This is the time of year when the question is asked. “Is it too late to plant?” A few wondered if it was too late a couple of weeks ago. For others, a couple of weeks before that, the question was, “Is it too early to plant?” It seems everyone wants to know “What’s the best time to plant?” I usually answer “3:30”. That normally gets a reaction from whoever is inquiring, and that is exactly what I hope. First, I am able to discern if they are listening, secondly I am trying to make a point. For the overwhelming majority of plant items, “time to plant” is as relevant to time of day as time of year; that is to say, not really relevant at all.

This preoccupation with time and when best to plant, is confounding to us in the nursery industry. It would seem many believe there is perhaps only a two week window to plant successfully…anything. The perceived limits of time between it being “too early” and “too late” is a conundrum; let’s poke a few holes in this way of thinking.

There are misconceptions about planting and time. Let’s call it the plant/time continuum. It is a distortion of time with respect to perceived opportunity to plant. The closer summer approaches, the less perceived time left to plant…right? In truth, there is no actual plant/time continuum. Perhaps there was once, back in the days when plants were exclusively field grown plants; grown in the ground then dug during the dormant season so as to assure survivability after being replanted, thereby avoiding the scourge of the green industry…transplant shock.

Container grown plants changed all of that. When plants are container grown, the entire root system has literally been “contained”. Since no roots are cut when the plant is removed from the container…as you might expect, no transplant shock. When transplant shock is removed from the equation, all things are possible. Plants can now be grown in containers that were extremely difficult otherwise. Things such as southern magnolias and pyracantha can now be grown with relative ease and transplanted successfully any time of year.

ANY time of year? Yes. Since the ground rarely freezes here, planting is successfully done 12 months a year. “But if I plant too late, I’ll have to water it all summer!” Yes you will. Watering all summer also applies to whatever you plant now, last week, last month or last fall. In fact, gardeners who have the highest success rates do one thing well: water.

That doesn’t necessarily mean they have astronomical water bills, or access to a creek or lake to pump water from. It simply means they have a great sense of when plants need water and how thoroughly to apply it.
Many people contend, “I don’t have much luck planting once it gets hot.” Luck, and growing plants is like luck and anything else. I have heard luck described as “where preparation meets opportunity”. I believe that is an accurate description of what luck is in life, and in growing plants.

Often the battle is lost before it starts. Soil preparation (notice the word pre-paration) is the key to having “luck” with plants. If you have hard compacted soil, the roots will have a much more difficult time growing out of the root ball into the surrounding earth. A plant’s ability to get their root system well established is what makes the difference between success and failure (good luck and bad luck). The better the roots get established, the easier that watering becomes because the plant is able to draw water from a much greater volume of soil. If you haven’t tried our EarthMix® Premium Topsoil Blend when planting, you cannot fully realize what proper soil preparation means to success. Good soil equals greater success, any time of year.

If you prepare your soil and take the opportunity to water in timely fashion, your luck is guaranteed in planting now and all summer long. Besides, there is nothing more relaxing than watering your plantings in the early morning, on a summer day. Avid gardeners everywhere find much luck with their plantings…regardless of the time.
Speaking of avid gardeners, there are a plethora of gardens on tour. Below is list of tours this weekend, and in the near future. You will need to copy and paste the links below.
Down the Garden Path

10th Annual Garden Tour
Saturday May 16, 2009 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
Sunday May 17, 2009 12:00 pm to 6:00 pm
$15 in advance / $20 Day of Event –******* TICKETS AVAILABLE TO PURCHASE AT BATES NURSERY*******
Tickets will also be sold on the day of the event for $20 with maps at the Registration Tent at the corner of Honeywood Avenue and Belle Meade Boulevard near Immanuel Baptist Church in Belle Meade. * Shuttles will be provided for Belle Meade gardens only. For more information, call 298-2273

This two day event features eight beautiful gardens including the garden of Beth and Chuck Flood. Beth is a landscape designer for Bates Nursery & Garden Center and she will be giving two of seven lectures/demonstrations entitled “Containers that Last”. See the entire program of gardens and lectures here http://lupusmidsouth.org/events/garden.html

Art of the Garden Tour
Sunday, May 31,
1-6 PM
Adult Tickets $20
Student Tickets $15
Group of 15 Tickets $225
Additional Group Tickets $15 each (available only with group of 15 purchase)

When Friends of the Cathedral puts on a fundraiser, it's no ordinary walk through the garden. Art of the Garden features gardens of nine parish members, many designed by internationally known garden designer Ben Page. Enjoy live music, plein air artists displaying their talents, an English Tea, and Champagne and Strawberries while strolling along the varied garden paths. Don't forget to save some room in your own garden for plants featured in the plant sale. It is your chance to be inspired while being entertained and fed in high fashion. Come and help the Friends of the Cathedral celebrate the sights, sounds and tastes of a late Spring Southern Sunday on the Art of the Garden tour. Buy tickets now before they are all sold out. Tickets are available only in advance online or at the Cathedral reception desk.
Click HERE http://www.christcathedral.org/SacredSpace/UpcomingConcerts for more information.

Seeds of Hope Garden Tour

Monroe Harding Inc. http://www.monroeharding.org/

Saturday, June 6, 2009
Garden Tour 9:00am-4:00pm
Garden Shop 9:00am-3:00pm
Tea Lunch 11:00am-2:00pm

The annual Seeds of Hope Garden Tour http://www.nowplayingnashville.com/event/detail/145707 benefits at-risk youths ages 16-24 who reside at the non-profit Monroe Harding campus in Oak Hill. Eight gardens in Oak Hill, Belle Meade and Green Hills are included on the self-guided tour (driving directions and garden descriptions will be provided). Tickets may be purchased at Monroe Harding or The Bank of Nashville. Tickets: $12.00/advance tickets, $15.00/day of event, $7.00/Tea Lunch
Info Phone: (615) 298-5573 ext. 115

Cheekwood Botanical Garden

May 23 and May 30 Dig Deeper
11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Wills Perennial Garden - Take a tour of our living exhibitions with our expert botanical garden staff, stopping to “dig deeper” and further explore a different garden each month. Cheekwood is our Nashville botanical treasure and we encourage you to visit often. With the extensive landscaped grounds, there is always something interesting to see, not to mention the beautiful art galleries and culinary experience of the Pineapple Room.
1200 Forrest Park Drive
Nashville, Tennessee 37205

(615) 356-8000

Wishing you GOOD LUCK, in the garden,

David Bates