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Let's Get Growing - Waterfalls and wisteria a sight on Caney Fork River
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McMinnville Garden Club members went on a field trip to the Caney Fork River where they spotted this great blue heron from a pontoon boat.
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There were many waterfalls spotted during the scenic adventure.

On Tuesday, May 11, McMinnville Garden Club deviated from its usual format of having a meeting with a presentation on gardening.   Club members boarded a pontoon boat at Rock Island State Park for a cruise on Center Hill Lake.  

It was a crisp, clear, sunny morning.  Our eagerness in anticipating the flora, fauna, and waterfalls was energizing. After leaving the sandbar, we saw only one other boat during the two-hour excursion but saw many waterfalls.  

Most exciting were the two grottos with bigger waterfalls. Many of the waterfalls could be heard from the middle of the lake before we could see them.  Rock Island State Park is at the confluence of the Caney Fork, Collins and Rocky rivers. Recent rains forced surface water to cascade into these rivers.

Several trees observed along the river have long blooms similar to lilac-colored wisteria but the color was white. Research from the Tennessee Invasive Plants Council told us about a white wisteria. Both of white and lilac (and other colors) are from Japan.

Wisteria is a woody vine that can grow up to 70 feet in tall canopy trees. The vine stems can get up to 10 inches in diameter. White pea-like flowers hang in dense, pendulous clusters 8 to 20 inches long. Flowering occurs as the leaves are unfolding in April or May.

Wisteria was introduced in this country around 1830 as an ornamental. It was popular in the southern U.S. as a decorative addition to porches, gazebos, walls, and gardens. Wisteria is hearty enough to be found in New England, and a few areas farther north. It is classified as an invasive in New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina and as an “established” invasive in Tennessee.    

It is a perennial vine that may live for over 50 years. The seeds may be dispersed downstream in water for great distances.  Several of these Japanese white wisteria are blooming now in the canopies of tall trees on the Caney Fork River.

A bobcat was seen skirting a very thin rock ledge. For pictures of the bobcat, white wisteria, and waterfalls taken by Debi Romerosa and Sherri Morris, see the McMinnville TN Garden Club on Facebook.

Tip of the Month: May is the ideal time to set out tomato plants. These heat-loving vegetables grow best when the nightly temperatures remain above 50 degrees and all frost danger has passed. If you have had problems growing tomatoes in the past, look for disease-resistant varieties.

Look for the letters VFNT on the plant tags.  This means that variety is resistant to verticillium, fusarium, nematodes, and tobacco mosaic virus – common diseases of tomatoes.

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