Tag Archives: Bates Nursery and Garden Center

To Trim, or Not to Trim

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My friend Marina sent me a note today, and I asked her if I might share it with you.  She said, “Regular therapy and gardening therapy are about the same price range.  They both create a special type of beauty in seeing and feeling and being at one with one’s life.”  This was nice, and I agree that it is therapeutic.  For me, trimming and pulling weeds do it, and they are both free.  Now I don’t propose a replacement for regular therapy, but for a supplement, absolutely.

“When can I cut back my hydrangea? Is it o.k. to trim my crape myrtle now? “I often get asked about this around this time of year, April. I’m glad to answer these perennial questions. (pun intended) I thought you might like to hear some rules about trimming that might inspire a venture into your outdoor therapy:

1. If it blooms in the early spring, do not cut it now. Wait until just after it finishes the blooming cycle unless you are willing to sacrifice blooms this year. Examples would be Oakleaf and Hydrangea macrophylla (the old-fashioned blue or pink ones), lilac, azalea, and rhododendron. Even if you think stems are dead on your hydrangea, wait, I tell you. I have removed what I thought was dead only to realize I cut the bloom stock off by mistake.

Hydrangea paniculata varieties like Annabelle and Limelight bloom on new growth. Trim those in late winter, before new growth appears. February in Middle Tennessee works well. The paniculata grow stronger when trimmed back from 4” to 12” above the ground. Leave the sturdier stems up to 18-24” long on the Tardiva hydrangea.  You may also allow it to be taller and tree form shaped.
2. “Can I cut my crape myrtle now?” Yes, even though the leaves have begun appearing, is not a terrible thing, if you must. They won’t die however, we have a term for the look of wholesale trunk decapitation: Crape Murder. You see these all over the place, flatly cut off. Yuck. The plants are prolific foliage producers and burst back out at these points, but I don’t like it. I prefer to leave the branching alone. Simply thin out the smaller trunks, and remove spindly branches from the heads in favor of larger ones. In this way, that elegant line leading your eye from the ground to the tip end, uninterrupted. Artistry in nature.
3. When can I trim my boxwoods? Preferably, late winter but if it has gotten past and you must, trim them anytime before August 1. The reasoning is that new growth will have time to get tough before the freezes of winter come. This is also true about holly, and most hedge type plants. Freeze damage looks yellow, dry and dead, and nobody wants to see that.
4. “What do I need to do about my azaleas and rhododendron to make them bloom better?” Fertilize them three times, May 1, June 1 and July 1. I know, it’s not about trimming, but it is a frequent question. There are other plants that use those dates in a different way: Chrysanthemums. If you have these late summer beauties in the landscape and want them to bloom prolifically in the fall, cut 1/3 of the plant off each time at those same calendar intervals and you will have a bounty of blossoms. Don’t forget to fertilize. I like organic everything so bone meal, worm castings, or both if you are serious. All of my blooming shrubs and perennials do well with these.

This spring I’ve taken hundreds of photographs for possible paintings later. The bright colors of blooms and light green foliage on the trees is irresistible. The photo above shows a Flame Azalea, which is a rhododendron, and also a native. I am partial to orange, a fun, and social color.

About Renee Bates

Renee is an artist focused on growing a newfound ability to express herself through oil painting, recently leaving her role as executive director of the non-profit, Greenways for Nashville. Renee is inspired by nature and enjoys hiking, birding, and the garden. She contributes to HerSavvy, a blog featuring writings from a group of well-informed women wishing to share their support and experience with others. Married to David Bates of Bates Nursery and Garden Center, enjoying flora and fauna is a family affair.

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Building a Following: Attraction Rather Than Promotion, Part II

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We are continuing this month with David Bates of Bates Nursery and Garden Center, indeed my better half and a very bright light.  Photo: Renee and David Bates, circa 2001.

When I asked David how he prepares for writing the newsletter each week he said, “I rarely know what I’m going to write about. I schedule time to write. I sit down and some thought comes or I think about what has transpired over the week and I begin typing. As the type goes onto the screen, that’s where I become inspired and, it’s important for me to have a deadline.”

People often tell me that they get several newsletters but David’s is one that they always read. David’s late friend, Rebecca Bain of Nashville Public Radio, told him that his articles were good though he needed to keep them brief. Mark Twain once said, “I apologize for the length of this letter as I did not have time to write a short one.” Writing with brevity takes time. Most weeks David keeps it to 350 words as his homage to Rebecca. He also tries to keep the self-promotion aspect low in newsletters. Topics are generally informational and not about promoting specific items.

Tracking outreach, he notes that about 1,500 people open the email within the first hour. People sign up for the newsletter through his website, www.batesnursery.com, or when they check out at the register and sign up for Bates Rewards, a loyalty program.

Regarding social media, Bates’ has Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Tumblr sites. David also co-hosts a weekly radio show, At Home with Josh Cary and David Bates, on WWTN 99.7 FM. He tries to coordinate all aspects of promotion across these formats.

Bates’ Twitter account has over 81,000 followers and Facebook has close to 3,000 likes. The Twitter following has more of a global audience and when he began in 2009 he said he didn’t really have any idea what he was doing. He spent an average of 2 hours a day for 2 ½ to 3 years building it.

He is committed to keeping viable content on social media. “Keep people engaged,” David offers. “Facebook has a decidedly more local audience. The up to date information is posted more to that site.”   When I asked him about whether he had delved into paying to promote on Facebook he replied, “Not yet.”

When asked what advice he would give someone who was just starting out with social media, he said that he would take his father, Earl Bates’ advice: “If you are going to copy someone, copy someone who has been successful. Don’t try to make someone else’s failure work for you.” David looked at what others were doing successfully and emulated their practices. Apparently it works.

About Renee Bates

Renee is an artist focused on growing a newfound ability to express herself through oil painting, recently leaving her role as executive director of the non-profit Greenways for Nashville to pursue art and product development. Renee likes being in nature, hiking, birding, and working in the garden. Married to David Bates of Bates Nursery and Garden Center, she appreciates that the legacy of the 3rd generation business was begun in 1932 at the height of the depression by a savvy woman, Bessie Bates.

Like what you’ve read? Feel free to share, but please… Give HerSavvy credit. Thanks!

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Building a Following: Attraction Rather Than Promotion

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David Bates is a nurseryman who grew up in a family business, Bates Nursery and Garden Center, begun in 1932 by a savvy woman, his grandmother, Bessie Bates.  He is also my husband of 30 years so this interview was convenient. I am awed by the way he made something where there was nothing and I thought you might benefit from how David embraced technology to expand his customer base with social media, and writing a weekly newsletter that is received by over 11,000 readers.

David had about 2,500 subscribers prior to 2009 and wrote only sporadically.  During a rough patch, after he had sold the business and then had to take it back, there were limited financial resources for conventional advertising.  He began looking for ways to expand his customer base.  The fact that customers tend to age, and with many of his customers in their early 60’s, it became apparent that there was a need to attract new and younger customers for the long haul.

Conventional at first, the newsletter featured only garden tips.  David needed wider parameters than exclusively writing gardening tips for the weekly newsletter. “Seasonal reminders are a good thing but I needed more content and began to inject more of myself into the newsletter, making it more personal.“  The newsletter has proven to be worth the effort, based on the response he gets from customers.  “I write them as though I am writing to one person.  When people receive it, my hope is they feel as though they are getting a personal note from me to them.  Consequently, I think people feel more comfortable with me and respond the way one friend does to another.  I am a person who has gone through a lot of bumps in life; the things I write about along those lines tend to be the posts I get the most response from.  They often don’t have anything to do with gardening.“

More on David’s writing process and social media in my next post.

About Renee Bates

Renee is an artist focused on growing a newfound ability to express herself through oil painting, recently leaving her role as executive director of the non-profit Greenways for Nashville to pursue art and product development. Renee likes being in nature, hiking, birding, and working in the garden. Married to David Bates of Bates Nursery and Garden Center, she appreciates that the legacy of the 3rd generation business was begun in 1932 at the height of the depression by a savvy woman, Bessie Bates.

Like what you’ve read? Feel free to share, but please… Give HerSavvy credit. Thanks!

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Getting Away From It All

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There is a quote that goes like this:

Take a rest.  A field that has rested yields a bountiful crop.

Ovid Roman poet (43 BC – 17 AD)

Recently, I took a weekend retreat with a group of women that was refreshing and exactly what I needed.  Focusing on spiritual principals and supporting one another, the time away from routine days and the opportunity to rest, was rejuvenating.  I take this trip each year, and it charges my batteries and makes me a better person in my job, and in life outside of work.  I am a better-balanced individual when I have a life outside of everyday tasks.

Giving myself permission to put the focus on me has not always been easy.  For some of us, it is on others that a good bit of our energy is spent.  I am finding that the more I make self-care a part of my routine, be it exercising, or journaling, the better all around I feel in my work, and the things that I do outside of my job.

This year I have made being active by getting outside and walking, jogging and hiking, a priority.  I am fortunate to live in a city with great parks and greenways.  If I can’t go for a weekend away, I can certainly go for an hour or two.  My favorites of late have been Beaman Park, Richland Creek Greenway and Radnor Lake.  For enjoying wildlife, these green spaces give a great opportunity to not only walk, but also see birds, deer, and sometimes turkey.  Working at Greenways for Nashville, I am knowledgeable about some of the many great places there are to visit.  New trails have recently been added to Metro Parks and Greenways at Peeler Park, and trails are soon to open along the Mill Creek Greenway near Lenox Village.  Greenways for Nashville’s website includes not only Metro Nashville’s Parks and Greenway maps and addresses, but also the State’s trails like Radnor, as well.  Click  here and find your place to recharge.

About Renee Bates

Renee is the executive director of the non-profit, Greenways for Nashville, a member based organization. In addition to growing private support for the trails and green spaces, she enjoys oil painting, hiking, nature and working in the garden. Renee is married to David Bates of Bates Nursery and Garden Center, a 3rd generation business begun in 1932 by a savvy woman, Bessie Bates.

Like what you’ve read? Feel free to share, but please… Give HerSavvy credit. Thanks!

 

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