Fall Newsletter: November, 2013 Issue: 19    
In This Issue
Upcoming Workshops
Winter Birds to Look For
Name and Programmatic Changes!!
New Partnerships!
Meet the New Advisory Board Members
Fun with Fall Flowers!
Upcoming Workshops

Creating and Maintaining Your Home Rain Garden Workshop
Conserve rain water and make a beautiful garden!

Each class will provide information about the environmental benefits of a rain garden and how to design, install and maintain one. Brought to you by the Lower Clinch Watershed Council in partnership with Tennessee Smart Yards.

Dates: November 16th and 19th
Location: Oak Ridge High School
1450 Oak Ridge Turnpike, Oak Ridge, TN 37830
Cost: FREE (with lunch provided)

Wear work clothes-part of the day will be spent getting some hands-on experience installing a rain garden.

Advanced registration required, call the Tennessee Smart Yards office at 974-9124 to register. Space is limited!!
Garden Tip #1 
It's the ideal time to plant spring flowering bulbs. Consider planting some of the minor bulbs such as winter aconite, glory of the snow, species tulips, narcissus and grape hyacinths 
Garden Tip #2

Divide, transplant and label perennials. As these plants die back in the fall, it is a great time to divide older plants. Be sure to keep newly divided plants watered.

Does Your Yard Measure Up?

We call it a Tennessee Smart Yard -- a yard that is in harmony with Tennessee's native flora, soil and topography. You don't have to be an expert gardener or landscaper to create a Tennessee Smart Yard. All it takes is a willingness to learn and a desire to build a yard that is based on the nine principles found in our handbook:


Right Plant, Right Place


Manage Soils and Mulch


Recycle Yard Waste 


Water Efficiently


Use Fertilizer Appropriately


Manage Yard Pests


Reduce Storm Water Runoff and it's Pollutants


Provide for Wildlife


Protect Water's Edge


To find out more information download our free

Garden Tip #3 
It's an ideal time to plant or transplant trees, shrubs and fruit crops. Be sure to mulch newly planted plants with a good 3"-4" layer of mulch, being sure to keep the mulch away from the stems and trunks.
Keep In Touch!
Ruth Anne Hanahan and Dr. Andrea Ludwig
TYN Statewide Co-Directors
Tennessee Water Resources Research Center
University of Tennessee
311 Conference Center
Knoxville, TN 37996
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Happy Fall Ya'll! We have many new and exciting changes happening with Tennessee Smart Yards (formerly Tennessee Yards & Neighborhoods). Read further to learn about programmatic changes, new partnerships and new advisory board members. In the spirit of the season we also have a great article from Stephen Lyn Bales about winter birds that may be visiting your landscape and an article from Katie Walberg about some spectacular native plants that can be used in floral arrangements this time of year. Also, check out our upcoming rain garden workshops in November!

Thanks for reading!
The TNSY State Management Team
Stephen Lyn Bales
Look for these backyard "winter" birds
by: Stephen Lyn Bales

Now that October has faded into November, can cold weather be far behind?  Yet, believe it or not, there are some new birds moving into the lowlands of the Volunteer State this time of the year. They spend their winters here.

In your backyards, if you look past the cardinals, the chickadees, the titmice, the jays (in the shrubs or under them), there are three interesting species that can only be found in the winter. Their breeding grounds are much farther north or much higher upslope in the Smokies. All three are overall brownish to better blend into the dead leaves and thick branches of a good shrubby border. All have their own innate charm.

White-Throated Sparrow
Perhaps the least shy of the trio is the white-throated sparrow, (Zonotrichia albicollis). Brown backed with grayish under-parts, the species gets its name from its dazzling white throat, but also look for its black and white (or brown and buff) stripes on the noggin or cap and its flashy yellow spots in front of their eyes that vary from individual to individual. Also, listen for their plaintive song, "poor Sam Peabody, Peabody, Peabody."  No one is quite sure who poor Sam was, but it's the mnemonic to remember.  

Hermit Thrush

"Solitary the thrush,

The hermit withdrawn to himself, avoiding the settlements,

Sings by himself a song.

Song of the bleeding throat!" wrote poet Walt Whitman in When Lilacs Last in the Door-yard Bloom'd.  The bird with the "bleeding throat" is the second of our triumvirate, the hermit thrush, (Catharus guttatus). Their songs are beautiful and haunting but here in the South in winter the birds are loners and sing very little. They usually appear in the shrubs about eye-level or hopping along the ground in the open looking for a meal.  They are larger than sparrows but smaller than robins. Look for their brown backs, rusty tails and spotted breasts.   

Winter Wren

The most diminutive (in fact, they are quite small) of the threesome, and perhaps the hardest to locate, is the winter wren, (Troglodytes hiemalis). Almost always very low to the ground, on first glance you might think you've seen a mouse. But their overall shape with erect tail reminds you of the ever present Carolina wren, but these passerines are much smaller, overall speckled brown and minus the white eye stripe of the Carolina. Winter wrens nest in the high elevations of the Smokies. Listen for their long rambling songs in spring along any of the trails to Mt. LeConte.  But, in the winter, here in the valley, they tend to be mute with no territories to define or defend and no desire to impress the ladies.

Here are some tips to help you look for these three birds around your house:
  • White-throated sparrows will feed on the ground under your bird feeders, eating the seeds cast off by others.
  • Although they are loners, hermit thrushes tend not to be skittish; they often give you a good long look.
  • Winter wrens love your brush piles, the bigger the better, along your property's edge, especially if the refuse is near water.
By Stephen Lyn Bales, senior naturalist Ijams Nature Center, author of Natural Histories and Ghost Birds by UT Press. Visit his nature blog: http://stephenlynbales.blogspot.com
Name and programmatic changes!

Our program is going through some new and exciting changes in the upcoming months starting with a new name! Tennessee Yards & Neighborhoods will now be Tennessee Smart Yards! Why the new name? Upon the recent completion of our three year pilot we looked at our strengths, successes and places we needed some work. One thing that was identified during this process was that the name Tennessee Yards & Neighborhoods wasn't very memorable and was often mistaken for a neighborhood association. We came up with Tennessee Smart Yards because it denotes a program that is positively affecting our landscapes, and it reinforces our mission for efficient use of our natural resources, time and money. It's smart, it's catchy, and we feel that it has staying power, despite the many "smart" marketing approaches. Along with our new name we have created a new logo and marketing materials that we are excited to unveil to you.
Check out our new logo!!

As a part of our program evaluation, we also looked at current workshops and trainings offered, with the goal that they be more accessible, hands-on, and adaptable to community needs.  Looking at our Six-Hour Homeowner's Landscape Workshop (which you may have taken), we concluded that it could be more effectively organized under the program's nine principles, allowing us also to create nine stand-alone modules.  The modules can then be used to create short lunch-and-learn sessions or be combined to create longer workshops. 

The "Yardstick"
The content of the principle-based modules will focus on the actions (remember the Yardstick?) a homeowner can take to accomplish each principle, keeping the training very hands-on and pragmatic.  For example, in the "Manage Soils and Mulch" module, we will show participants how to take a soil sample by actually doing one while also explaining how this action will help create a healthier yard. By keeping the modules action-oriented, our hope is that it will encourage more homeowners to go home, do the actions and in the process (if they desire) create a certified Tennessee Smart Yard.   

We are also adding new training modules like one on how to install and maintain a rain garden and another on how to create and manage a healthy lawn.  These modules (and more to come) dive more intensively into topics homeowners might be interested in learning more about.  Look for these new trainings to begin rolling out over this year along with modules that we will also being offering on-line.


New Partnerships!

Along with the reorganizing of our program we are very excited to announce a new partnership with UT Gardens.  This partnership will broaden our outreach, provide us both with joint funding opportunities, and strengthen our affiliation with the University of Tennessee.  We hope to help broaden the scope of the current UT Gardens educational programs and garden demonstrations to better advocate the conservation and protection of Tennessee's water resources. We look
Rain Garden Demonstration Site
forward to working with UT Gardens to share and gain expertise, participate and offer educational materials in popular events like Blooms Days and to assist the Garden's in unifying different academic disciplines and the campus community around the theme of environmental conservation and sustainability. If you're visiting the UT Gardens also check out our new signage at our rain garden demonstration site located just across from the KUB demonstration site and between the Center for Renewable Carbon and Environment and Landscape Laboratory buildings. 

Meet the new Advisory Board Members

We are excited about bringing on two new statewide Board members Clint Allison, founder and owner of Rainscapes and Jeff Fore, Director of the West TN Nature Conservancy Program.  Through their knowledge, skills, and experiences, both Clint and Jeff will bring with them new perspectives and insights to Tennessee Smart Yards as we continue to evolve and expand.

Clint Allison
is a native East Tennessean who founded Rainscapes in 1996, a Maryville-based irrigation company. In March 2010, Allison acquired Duck Irrigation in Knoxville, Tenn., and consolidated the two companies under the Rainscapes name. At Rainscapes, Allison manages a staff of 17 people, provides oversight and direction for the company's projects, manages various on-site irrigation and service projects and guides the company's business development efforts. Allison and Rainscapes hold several professional certifications. From the National Irrigation Association, Allison earned the Certified Irrigation Contractor designation. Rainscapes is also an Environmental Protection Agency WaterSenseŽ Partner as well as a Rain Bird select contractor. Prior to founding Rainscapes, Allison served in a design and sales capacity for Duck Irrigation for three years. He also worked for three years as an irrigation manager for McGinnis Farms which is now John Deere Landscapes. Allison received his bachelor's degree in agricultural-Ornamental Horticulture and Landscape Design from the University of Tennessee in 1991. He resides in Maryville, Tenn., with his wife, Lori, and their two daughters.
Jeff Fore
received a BS in Fisheries and Wildlife Ecology from Oklahoma State University, MS in Biology from Eastern Illinois University, and his PhD in Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences from the University of Missouri.  His expertise is in stream ecology and landscape-scale agricultural conservation planning.  Jeff's current position as the West Tennessee Program Director for The Nature Conservancy is based out of Jackson, TN.  There, his work focuses on stream and watershed conservation.  Jeff leads conservation projects that improve water quality and wildlife habitat by reducing sediment loading and improving hydrologic function.

Fun With Fall Flowers!

by Katie Walberg

Coneflowers, Brown-Eyed Susans and Purple Asters can still be found blooming and make great cut flowers.
As many of our landscaping plants start to die back and change color for the fall why not go outside and collect some to make lovely indoor arrangements. Fall arrangements can be quite beautiful especially with bright berries, changing leaf colors and amber grasses.  I thought I'd take a look at some native plants that do particularly well in fall floral arrangements.  Don't worry you don't have to be a professional florist to create fun arrangements; sometimes it's as easy as cutting a few stems off your winterberry bush and putting them in a clear jar. The plant's beauty speaks for itself!

A few plants to note during this time of year are:
Common Winterberry
Ilex verticillata

Winterberry's scarlet red to orange globular fruit mature by late summer, often remaining on the plant into mid-winter. Cut a few small twigs of the berries and add them to any floral arrangement or let them stand alone.

American Beauty Berry
Callicarpa americana
In the fall, flowers of the American beauty berry have matured into eye-popping clusters of brilliant lavendar purple fruits. Branches look like there are 2 inch clusters of grapes at every node. It is very showy and will create a statement in any type of floral arrangement.

Panicum virgatum
Switchgrass is an erect graceful bunch-type grass which grows 5 to 8 feet tall. Leaves are blue green and flowering starts in mid to late summer. Adding grasses brings a soft and airy element to floral arrangements.

New England Aster
Aster novae angliae

New England asters have shiny dark green narrow leaves and are covered with bright lavender-blue, 1 1/2 inch flower heads in late summer and early fall. Often these will continue blooming well into the fall so add them to your floral arrangement for a pop of color.

Tennessee Coneflower
Echinacea tennesseensis

Coneflowers have striking, large flower heads that rise above neat clumps of foliage 2 to 3 1/2 feet tall. These are wonderful in arrangements if they are still blooming and the seed heads can be used to add a structural element in arrangements.

Oak Leaf Hydrangea
Hydrangea quercifolia
Oak leaf hydrangea leaves look like huge soft oak leaves and turn deep shades of red and burgundy in the fall before falling off and exposing interesting cinnamon colored peeling bark. The flower heads usually hang on and dry in clumps making for great dried flowers for fall arrangements.

Hydrangea, dogwood branch, white asters, goldenrod
I went out in my yard and collected a few specimens for arranging and found there are many items to use in the fall landscape. I tried to hone in on native plants but couldn't resist this hydrangea (pictured right) growing at my friends house, in particular how the pinkish-red petals in the center looked with the sprig of a dogwood tree.

It's always fun to get out and see how everything changes from season to season. So, get outside during these beautiful fall days and check out the native flora in our area and bring some indoors for a festive fall feel.
See Ya' in the Winter!
Thanks so much for reading!
Check back with us for details on our new projects
and more tips on achieving a healthy home landscape.
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