published Thursday, March 13th, 2014

Conifer expert guest for Winter Garden Lecture - March 15

Tom Cox, a nationally recognized expert on conifers, will lead the Winter Garden Lecture on Saturday, March 15, for the Tennessee Valley Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society.

Presented in partnership with the Chattanooga Arboretum and Nature Center, the free program will start at 2 p.m. at the Nature Center, 400 Garden Road. It will focus on tips for selecting various forms of conifers suitable for sun and shade and cultivating them successfully in Southern soils and weather conditions.

"Fifteen years ago, conifers suitable for the South would have frequently been considered to be a pine tree and a cedar," says a news release from event organizers. "Thanks to research and experimentation by Tom Cox and others, we now have a rich and broad spectrum of colorful conifers from throughout the world which are now known to flourish in our conditions."

Members of the local ARS chapter toured the speaker's Cox Arboretum in Canton, Ga., last summer. The 13-acre property, which lies within an old-growth deciduous forest, boasts more than 4,000 specimens, making it one of the largest private collections of temperate flora in the United States, according to Cox.

Considered "backbone" or design anchor plants, conifers are great companion plantings that brighten the garden in winter and provide cover and refuge for birds and small wildlife. However, not all varieties do well in this area.

Cox is a past president of the American Conifer Society and co-author of the new book "Landscaping With Conifers and Ginkgo for the Southeast." Copies will be available for purchase and signing.

For more information, call 423-821-1160 or visit chattanooganaturecenter.org.

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