UT Gardens Summer Celebration

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Article & photos by Nancy Brannon

The UT Gardens at the West Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center in Jackson, Tennessee hosted the 30th annual Summer Celebration Lawn and Garden show on Thursday July 11, 2019. Mother Nature provided all the plants a rain shower on Wednesday – almost two inches of rain fell in a short period of time in the afternoon. There were a few soggy spots, but overall, the turf held up very well and parking on the grass was no problem. And the weather was not as hot as could be expected, although temperatures were still in the low 90s and humidity was high.

This year’s theme was kaleidoscope, incorporating a variety of unique garden art displays from past events. There were neckties hung at various places on the grounds; bicycles were incorporated into several flower displays; cook stoves were utilized in plant displays, and of course the colored wine bottles are on display in bottle trees.

Asked why UT Gardens hosts its Summer Celebration during the hottest time of the year, UT Garedens spokesperson Ginger Rowsey said they have the event when the gardens look good, when everything is blooming. “It’s the time when the grounds look really good.” It’s a day that people can get ideas to use in their own lawns and gardens. But visitors are not limited to visiting just one day of the year. The gardens are open daily throughout the year.

The Summer Celebration included a huge plant sale and over 40 vendors selling everything from plants to birdhouses to jewelry to lawn furniture and lawn décor – and especially fresh lemonade. TWRA representatives were on hand to give information on Chronic Wasting Disease. You could find information about all kinds of products made from soybeans and get a free sample of lotion made from soybeans – tn soybean! Find more information at: https://tnsoybeans.org/

The Summer Celebration also included a cooking demonstration with the theme “It’s a Pepper Party,” at which the UT Kitchen Divas celebrated the 30th anniversary with a poppin’ pepper party, since every recipe had some kind of pepper in it. Ginger Rowsey said her favorite was the Sweet & Spicy Sugar Cookie, which combined dark chocolate chips with cayenne pepper in a sugar cookie. Did you miss the UT Kitchen Divas? You can still try some of their recipes; find them at: http://taes.utk.edu/upload/WTREC/SummerCelebration2019Recipes.pdf

There were Garden Talks both inside the air conditioned building and outside under the tents every hour throughout the day. Here’s a sampling:

Curator of the UT Gardens Jason Reeves took visitors through a PowerPoint tour of the past years Of Summer Celebrations in his Thanks for the Memories presentation.

Research Horticulture Specialist Carol Reese presented “Go for the Gaudy,” to give your landscape a pop of the weird and wonderful with rare and remarkable plants.

With multiple varieties of hydrangeas in full bloom this time of year, Jason Reeves gave advice on the care and pruning of each type of hydrangea as he highlighted the best types for the mid-south area.

In Flaunt Your Foliage (Herbaceous), Sue Hamilton had more than an hour full of ideas for all kinds of blooming plants for your landscape, and slides showing how the plants can be utilized in the landscape to give the most blossoms for the buck.

In Flaunt Your Foliage (Woody), Carol Reese highlighted the plants with great foliage that can add color and pizzazz to your landscape.

In one of the outdoor tents, Mark Greene described the various birds that can be attracted to your landscape – and how to stage your landscape to attract them.

Despite the heat, the Gardens are a delightful treat for the eye. I heard one visitor say, “I wish I had just one of these plots in my yard!” as she walked through the various combinations of plants, flowers, and yard art in the plots around the grounds.

Find full information about this year’s Summer Celebration at: http://west.tennessee.edu/events/SummerCeleb.asp
UT Gardens in Jackson will have their fall plant sale on October 3, 2019. Horticulturist Michael Dirr, Ph.D., professor at the University of Georgia, will be the guest speaker in October. Find more information about Dirr at: https://hort.caes.uga.edu/about/endowments/michael-dirr.html

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