Chattanooga area garden classes and events to get ready for spring

Staff File Photo by Robin Rudd / A tunnel of trees frames pedestrians on Market Street in downtown Chattanooga.
Staff File Photo by Robin Rudd / A tunnel of trees frames pedestrians on Market Street in downtown Chattanooga.

Spring hasn't sprung quite yet — we're still a little over two weeks out — but the mostly mild temps have us ready to leave winter completely behind. Whether you're dreaming of planting a garden or scheduling a day trip as the scenery turns green, here are a few ideas to jump-start your plans for the next couple of months.


According to, the average last frost dates in the Chattanooga area won't arrive until mid-April. But if you're itching to start scratching in the dirt, area garden centers can help with a roster of how-to classes.

(READ MORE: 5 tips to prepare garden for cold weather)

Already, Signal Mountain Nursery has held classes on growing bonsai and using staghorn ferns as wall art. Still to come is expert instruction on fairy gardens, vegetable gardens and pruning, as well as the spring open house.

"It's always a good time," said sales associate Hannah McLaren, who coordinates the schedule. "You make connections. You learn new things."

The bonsai class was such a success that the 12 participants decided to stay in touch for the first year so they could monitor each other's progress, she said.

Classes are often designed around topics customers ask about.

"We're always posting polls asking people which class they'd prefer," she said. "Just yesterday, someone asked me if we ever do an orchid class. We haven't, but now that someone has asked that, we may consider putting something like that together."

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Here's a schedule of offerings at several garden centers around Chattanooga.

— March 7: DIY Creating Garden Beds webcast, 8 p.m.,

— March 8: Introduction to Beekeeping, 6-8 p.m., The Chattery, 1800 Rossville Ave., Suite 108, $30,

— March 14: Canning classes led by Feathers & Fruit, 5:30-8:30 p.m., Audubon Acres, 900 N. Sanctuary Road, $75-$80,

— March 16: Garden Series: Starting Seeds, 10 a.m.-noon, Urban Horticulture Supply, 3009 Wood Ave., $15,

— March 16: Raised Bed Kitchen Gardens, 10 a.m.-noon, Crabtree Farms, 1000 E. 30th St., $30,

— March 16: Flower Bird Feeder, drop-in kids workshop, 10 a.m.-1 p.m., Lowe's stores, free,

— March 16: Edible Landscaping, 11 a.m.-noon or 2-3 p.m., America's Gardens, 4637 Dayton Blvd.,

— March 17: Spring Florals: Tabletop Arrangement, 3-5 p.m., The Chattery, $110,

— March 21: Succulent Bar: Make Your Own Succulent Terrarium, 6-7:30 p.m., The Chattery, $42,

— March 22: Pickled Eggs canning class by Feathers & Fruit, 5 p.m. at Ivy Academy, $60 (first in a series at this location that also includes Jams, Jellies & Marmalades on May 17, Basic Garlic Tomato Sauce on July 19 and Spiced Apples on Sept. 27),

— March 23: Pickled Eggs canning class with Feathers & Fruit, 1 p.m., Urban Horticulture Supply, $60 (first in a series at this location that also includes Jams, Jellies & Marmalades on May 18, Basic Garlic Tomato Sauce on July 20 and Spiced Apples on Sept. 28),

— March 23: Intro to Beekeeping, 10 a.m.-noon, Crabtree Farms, $30,

— March 23: Fairy Gardens, all ages, 10 a.m., Signal Mountain Nursery, 1100 Hubbard Road, $10 reservation fee is applied toward product purchases, signalmountain

— March 23: Pruning Walkabout, noon and 2 p.m., Signal Mountain Nursery, free, signalmountain

— March 23: Spring Renewal: Ayurvedic Gardening, 3:30-5 p.m., The Chattery, $30,

— March 27: Plant, Grow, Eat: The Art of Growing Organic Vegetables, 6-7:30 p.m., The Chattery, $30,

  photo  Staff File Photo by Robin Rudd / Mourning doves perch on a budding maple tree in East Brainerd.

 — March 30: Garden Series: Maintenance, 10 a.m.-noon, Urban Horticulture Supply, $15, urbanhorticulture

— April 6: Veggie Gardening 101, 11 a.m., Signal Mountain Nursery, free,

— April 20: Playful Garden Cart Planter, drop-in kids workshop, 10 a.m.-1 p.m., Lowe's stores, free,

— April tba: Loofah Gourd Class at Urban Horticulture Supply, $40,

— May 4: Butterfly Biome, drop-in kids workshop, 10 a.m.-1 p.m., Lowe's stores, free,

Worth noting: Taylor Nelson, owner of The Backyard Nursery, 2301 E. Main St., said his company will offer classes later in the spring, once the season begins in earnest. The dates haven't been set yet, but they'll be posted at


One of the highlights of the season for rose growers is the Day of the Roses at Ooltewah Nursery, which marks the seasonal release of hundreds of types and varieties of these flowering perennials.

The store's general manager, Kat McGraw, said the 200 members of the Tri-State Rose Society turn out in force for the release, along with growers from as far away as Knoxville. It's common to see enthusiasts stop by early for previews.

"They walk around taking pictures so they'll know which ones to get," she said.

The plants arrive in January as bare-root seedlings. They're potted in 3-gallon pots and kept inside the store's "flower showcase" for the first few weeks to make sure they're alive and viable, McGraw said. Depending on the variety, they'll grow 6 to 12 inches tall and sprout their first leaves in the warm environment.

"Then we transfer them outside to a covered area to transition to being in cooler weather," she said. "Then we put them outside when they go on sale."

The sale day usually sees people lined up at the gate waiting for the store to open for the first-come, first-served access to the selection, which includes climbing, hybrid tea, grandiflora, floribunda, tree, drift and Knockout roses. Some are hard to find locally, McGraw said.

"Honestly, last week, I had a man offer me $20 if I would reserve one for him," she said. "I just laughed."

— March 4: Tennessee Tree Day order deadline; pickup is March 16 at five Hamilton County sites and elsewhere across the state, $2 per tree,

— March 15: Day of the Roses, the release of the 2024 crop, 8 a.m., Ooltewah Nursery, 5829 Main St., purchase prices vary,

— March 16: Spring Open House, with sales, gardening tips from staff and visiting experts, free hot dogs, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Signal Mountain Nursery, free admission,

— April 12-14: Tennessee Valley Wild Ones' Wild Wander: Plant Natives Weekend, with seminars, workshops, native plant sale and expo,

— April 13-14: Master Your Garden Show by Master Gardeners of Hamilton County, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday, Camp Jordan Arena, $10 admission good both days,

— April 20: Springtime in Chattanooga market, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. at Coolidge Park, 150 River St.,

— May 18: Garden Gala market, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. at Coolidge Park, 150 River St.,


The fall color spectrum can sometimes be dull and lackluster, depending on the weather, but the sweeping shades of green that emerge in spring never fail to dazzle. Here are key dates for festivals that celebrate the change of season and highlight favorite blooms, all within about a two-hour drive of Chattanooga.

One must-see is Gibbs Gardens in Ball Ground, Georgia. Designed by a retired landscape company owner, the 376-acre property has 24 ponds, 32 bridge crossings and 19 waterfalls, along with hundreds of varieties of plants and deciduous trees.

— March and beyond: The spring blooms at Gibbs Gardens include daffodils, cherry blossoms, tulips, dogwoods, azaleas, ferns, roses, rhododendrons, hydrangeas, wildflowers and water lilies; peak dates vary. Bloom calendar:

— Through March 10: Orchids at Cheekwood Estate & Gardens in Nashville,

— Through April 14: Orchid Daze at Atlanta Botanical Garden,

— March 16: Daffodil Day in downtown Bell Buckle, Tenn.,

— March 16-April 14 (estimated): Tennessee Tulip Festival at Lucky Ladd Farms in Eagleville, Tenn.,

— April 12-14: Atlanta Dogwood Festival in Piedmont Park,

— April 12-May 12: Hamilton Gardens' Rhododendron Festival at Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds in Hiawassee, Ga.,

— April 13: Nashville Cherry Blossom Festival in Nashville Public Square Park,

— April 19-21: Trails & Trilliums in Beersheba Springs, Tenn.,

— April 26-27: Cumberland County Master Gardeners' Flower, Lawn and Garden Show at Cumberland County Community Complex, Crossville, Tenn.,

— April 26-27: Ramp Tramp Festival at 4-H Camp McCroy in Reliance, Tenn.,

— April 26-28: Dogwood Arts Festival at World's Fair Park in Knoxville,

— April 27-28: Spring Jonquil Festival in downtown Smyrna, Ga.,

— May 18: Tennessee Mountain Laurel Festival in downtown Wartburg, Tenn.,

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Contact Lisa Denton at or 423-757-6281.

  photo  File Photo / The annual Dogwood Arts Festival in Knoxville is set amid the dogwoods in World's Fair Park.

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