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Group to sell cherry trees at festival

Staff Photo: Erin Evans. Yoshino cherry trees across the community burst with beautiful white and pink blooms every March as a signal that spring has arrived. The Rockdale County Cooperative Extension Office will have tree saplings for sale at the Conyers Cherry Blossom Festival's front gate again this year.

Staff Photo: Erin Evans. Yoshino cherry trees across the community burst with beautiful white and pink blooms every March as a signal that spring has arrived. The Rockdale County Cooperative Extension Office will have tree saplings for sale at the Conyers Cherry Blossom Festival's front gate again this year.

CONYERS -- The beauty of cherry blossoms will be available for your own front yard again this weekend at the Cherry Blossom Festival to benefit programs at the Rockdale County Cooperative Extension Service.

Yoshino cherry trees will be for sale at the festival grounds along with a variety of locally grown herbs. Bare root trees will cost $15 and potted trees will sell for $20.

Members of the Rockdale County Master

Gardeners will help out and be available to answer landscape questions throughout the weekend at the Extension Office's booth near the front gate, according to Jule-Lynne Macie, Rockdale Extension Office director.

Macie said money raised will help fund the Extension Office's education garden, located at the county Government Annex at 1400 Parker Road.

Cherry trees have a reputation as being touchy to grow. Macie said they require some maintenance, but homeowners will be rewarded for their trouble with beautiful spring blooms.

"They prefer a high ph, so they should be limed and can't be planted with azaleas and other acid loving plants," Macie said. "You will plant them only as deep as they were in the ground originally. You can tell this by looking at the base of the tree. There is a color change. The hole preparation is key."

Macie said the hole should be twice as wide as the roots and the soil should be tamped down to eliminate any gaps that could drive out the roots.

Water well during the summer to establish the trees. Lots of mulch will help retain water. Macie also warned not to fertilize the trees in the first year.

"They are generally considered a short-lived tree, about 20 to 30 years, because of our heat. They prefer it a little cooler," she said. "They have beautiful white to light pink flowers each March and should bloom lightly next year and real well the second year."

LaTausha Gipson, horticultural programs assistant at the Rockdale Extension office, advised those wishing to buy a tree to do so toward the end of the day at the festival. The bare root trees will need to be covered up soon after purchase by either planting right away or potting to protect the roots.

Gipson said rainy weather stunted sales last year, but they have traditionally sold out of trees at the festival in past years. Any trees left over will be available for sale for the same price at the Extension office, located at 1400 Parker Road, Lobby A.