It’s too soon to start the garden, but these Chattanooga-area classes and events will get you ready

Staff file photo by Olivia Ross  / Reflection Riding Arboretum & Nature Center sells plants during the 2022 Native Plant Marketplace presented by the Tennessee Valley Chapter of Wild Ones. The market returns to First Horizon Pavilion on March 25.
Staff file photo by Olivia Ross / Reflection Riding Arboretum & Nature Center sells plants during the 2022 Native Plant Marketplace presented by the Tennessee Valley Chapter of Wild Ones. The market returns to First Horizon Pavilion on March 25.

The first day of spring is still a month out: March 20. The last chance of frost is further still: April 17.

So, yes, despite occasional mild days, it's too soon to start digging in the garden. Perhaps one of the following events can help. They include garden classes, expos and conservation projects through Earth Day weekend in April, as gleaned from news releases, websites and social media.

(READ MORE: Gardening experts advise 'wait-and-see' approach for plants harmed by cold snap)

For advice on what you can be doing in the yard and garden, Hamilton County Extension agent Haley Treadway says copies of the 2023 Tennessee Home Fruit and Vegetable Garden calendar may be picked up at the Extension office, 6183 Adamson Circle, or downloaded at


› Feb. 26 and March 18: Tennessee Tree Day. You'll need to reserve your tree seedlings by Feb. 26 if you want to participate in planting day on March 18. The nonprofit Tennessee Environmental Council will supply 95,000 native tree seedlings to residents in all 95 counties for a suggested starting donation of $2 per tree, and it's yours to plant on your own property. The seedlings are bare-root and may range in size from 1 foot to 4 feet, depending on the species. Pickup is March 17-18 at locations throughout the state, including five sites in Hamilton County. Species may vary by location, and some selections typically sell out. Since 2017, the council has distributed more than 800,000 native trees, with a goal of planting 1 million by 2025.

› March 4: Chattanooga Arbor Day, 8 a.m.-noon at Shepherd Community Center, 2124 Shepherd Road. The Chattanooga Tree Commission is seeking volunteers to help plant 34 trees, a nod to the event's 34th year. Planting will start at 8 a.m., along with activities for children. Recognition of Chattanooga as a Tree City USA will take place at 11 a.m., to be followed by tree pruning demonstrations. Register:

› March 4: Soddy-Daisy Arbor Day, 9 a.m.-noon at Veterans Park, 9000 Dayton Pike. For its second Arbor Day, Keep Soddy-Daisy Beautiful will plant 35 trees around the memorial park. Students from Ivy Academy and Soddy-Daisy High School, local Scouts and community organizations will be involved, and other volunteers are welcome. For a donation of $100 or more, you can plant a tree in honor or memory of someone.


› Feb. 22 and March 28: Planning Your Spring Garden and Organic Pest Control: Attracting Beneficial Insects to the Garden, 6-7:30 p.m. (both) at The Chattery, 1800 Rossville Ave. "Gardenchick" Karen Creel will lead these classes. February's offering, Planning Your Spring Garden, will explain the four simple steps to growing cool-season vegetables such as carrots, lettuce, spinach and other leafy greens, which can be planted four to six weeks before the last frost date. Organic Pest Control, in March, will explore good bugs vs. bad bugs and what to do about pest diseases that might occur in the garden. Cost is $25 for either.

› Feb. 23: Gardening 101, 6-8 p.m. at Crabtree Farms, 1000 E. 30th St. "Gardenchick" Karen Creel will explore the ins and outs of starting a garden in this class. You'll learn where to plant a garden, how to create healthy soil to nourish your plants, what to plant and how to create a planting plan. Cost is $30.

› Feb. 23 or 25: Garden Series: Seed Starting, 5:45 p.m. Thursday or 10 a.m. Saturday at Urban Horticulture Supply, 3009 Wood Ave. This beginner gardening class goes over how, when and where to start seeds. No gardening experience is necessary. The same information will be presented at each class, so there's no need to attend both. Cost is $10.

› Feb. 25: Fairy Garden, 11 a.m. at Signal Mountain Nursery, 1100 Hubbard Road. Create a magical miniature world in a class popular with children and adults. Cost is based on materials used.

› March 4: Get Wild in the Garden, 10 a.m. at Signal Mountain Nursery, 1100 Hubbard Road. Learn how to grow mini meadows for your pollinators.

› March 9-10: Green Express short course. To be held at Chattanooga State Community College, this program gives landscape professionals the latest research from experts across the state. Cost is $80 for one day, $150 for two with early registration by Feb. 27, $100 and $190 after.

› March 9 or 11: Garden Series: Maintenance, 5:45 p.m. Thursday or 10 a.m. Saturday at Urban Horticulture Supply, 3009 Wood Ave. Get advice on seeding, pest control and general maintenance as your garden grows. Cost is $10.

› March 11: Pruning walkabout, 10 a.m. at Signal Mountain Nursery, 1100 Hubbard Road. Learn the correct way and the best times to prune trees, shrubs and perennials.

› March 18 (and ongoing): Master Gardeners of Hamilton County monthly classes, 10 a.m.-noon third Saturdays. This free series of educational classes, with a different topic each month, can be attended in person at the Hamilton County Extension office, 6183 Adamson Circle, or virtually via Zoom. You'll need to register for either option.

› March 23 or 25: Hydroponics 101, 5:45 p.m. Thursday or 10 a.m. Saturday at Urban Horticulture Supply, 3009 Wood Ave. Learn the principles of this technique for growing plants using a water-based nutrient solution rather than soil. Cost is $10.

› March 25: Veggie Gardening 101, 11 a.m. Tips and techniques for beginner and experienced veggie gardeners. Free.

› March 25 and April 1: Introduction to Permaculture. This two-part series will be taught by the owner of Signal Mountain's Wild Violet Permaculture, which specializes in building gardens, orchards and native and edible landscapes. Permaculture is a designed agricultural ecosystem that mimics a natural ecosystem. Both classes run 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Cost is $60 for each.

› April 2: Apple grafting, 1:30-4 p.m. at the Chief Vann House Historic Site, 82 Highway 225 North, Chatsworth, Ga. Work with University of Georgia Extension agents to graft your own apple trees from root stock in this make-it-take-it program for ages 18 and older. All supplies are included in the $40 fee.

› April 8: Intro to Beekeeping, 10 a.m.-noon at Crabtree Farms, 1000 E. 30th St. Instructor Randall Kennedy will use one of the eight hives he keeps at the garden to introduce participants to key concepts of beekeeping, including basic bee biology, necessary equipment, honey extraction and the costs involved. Cost is $30.

› April 8: Creating a Backyard Wildlife Habitat, 1-3 p.m. at Crabtree Farms, 1000 E. 30th St. This class will discuss the four basic elements needed to incorporate your yard as a go-to place for bees, butterflies, birds and other animals. You'll leave with a plan to create a backyard wildlife habitat that can be certified by the National Wildlife Federation. Cost is $25.


› Feb. 25: Little Soddy Creek cleanup, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Keep Soddy-Daisy Beautiful will lead a volunteer effort to beautify Little Soddy Creek. Register:

› March 4: Weed Wrangle, various times, multiple sites. This areawide volunteer effort helps rescue public parks and greenspaces from non-native invasive species through hands-on removal of especially harmful trees, vines and flowering plants. Reflection Riding Arboretum & Nature Center maintains a comprehensive list of the places you can volunteer.


› Feb. 24-26: Tri-State Home Show, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday at the Chattanooga Convention Center, 1 Carter Plaza. This event presented by the Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga includes several vendors who specialize in landscaping. Adult admission is $10 for one day, $16 for the weekend. Bring a canned good to donate to the Chattanooga Area Food Bank for $1 off.

› Feb. 25: Day of Gardening, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, 822 Belvoir Ave., East Ridge. Tennessee Garden Clubs District III and the Tennessee Native Plant Society will join forces for this half-day event that includes workshops and a market. The theme is "Beyond Aesthetics: Garden as if Life Depends on It." The $35 registration fee must be paid in advance.

› March 4: Nursery grand reopening. Reflection Riding Arboretum & Nature Center, 400 Garden Road, opens its native plant nursery for the season. The event coincides with EPB's ReLeaf program, offering all Hamilton County residents and/or EPB customers two free trees.

› March 17-18, 25: Plant Natives Symposium. Tennessee Valley Chapter of Wild Ones presents this annual event over two weekends. The first weekend opens with a Nature Journaling Workshop noon-4 p.m. March 17 and a symposium 8 a.m.-5 p.m. March 18 at the UTC University Center. Five experts will provide presentations, including keynote speaker Thomas Rainer, a landscape architect. The second weekend fills First Horizon Pavilion, 1826 Carter St., with the Native Plant Sale & Expo 9 a.m.-3 p.m. March 25. Workshop tickets are $125 and limited to 20. Symposium tickets are $75 for nonmembers, $85 after March 13.

› April 1: Bee Green Day. Free workshops and exhibits on community conservation and an art contest on the lawn of the Museum Center at Five Points, 200 E. Inman St., Cleveland, Tenn.

› April 15-16: Master Your Garden Expo, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday at Camp Jordan, 323 Camp Jordan Parkway, East Ridge. A fixture on the spring calendar since 2013, this Master Gardeners of Hamilton County event features vendors, exhibits, live demonstrations and talks by experts. The $10 ticket is good both days.

› April 21-23: Spring Plant Sale & Festival, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Friday-Saturday (full festival), 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday (plants only) at Crabtree Farms, 1000 E. 30th St. The sale offers sustainably grown veggie annuals, perennials and landscape flowers plus berry and fruit plant starts as well as seeds for vegetables best sown directly. Live music, arts and crafts vendors, food and children's activities round out the event.

› April 21-23: Trails & Trilliums Festival in Beersheba Springs, Tenn. Friends of South Cumberland State Park will host this three-day event, which includes hikes, workshops and a native plant sale. Registration is necessary for some programming, with topics ranging from birding to wildflowers to tree identification. An all-inclusive weekend pass is $150, which comes with a ticket to Saturday night's Wine & Wildflowers reception ($35 separately). The weekend pass for all hikes and presentations is $75, or choose a la carte for $15 for each program.


› Feb. 25: Seed Swap, 2 p.m. at The Seed Theatre, 6237 Vance Road. Share your seeds, sprouts, unwanted pots, tools and soil to get ready for the growing season in this Hope Community Fridge event.

› March 4: Spring Seed & Plant Swap, 1:30-4 p.m. at Urban Horticulture Supply, 3009 Wood Ave. A bring some, take some event, with extras from the city of Chattanooga's RainSmart program.

› April 8: Plant giveaway, 8 a.m. at Daisy United Methodist Church, 9508 Dayton Pike, Soddy-Daisy. The annual event offers flowers, vegetables, herbs and ornamental plants. The sale ends when the last plants are gone. "Last year we were out of 1,500 plants in three hours," says organizer Bill Haley.


› Feb. 25: Nursery tour, 9-10:30 a.m. at Reflection Riding, 400 Garden Road. Get a behind-the-scenes look at the inner workings of one of the region's premier native plant nurseries. You'll explore the hoop house and greenhouse for an insider look at seed collection, propagation and horticultural documentation. Get a free plant with registration.

Know of an event not listed? Email details to to be included in future coverage.

Contact Lisa Denton at or 423-757-6281.

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