Volume 6, June/July 2016

Hope you all are doing well in this hot spell.   We are going to repeat one of our past articles about the importance of watering in summer, especially newly planted woody material.  We have one addition this year:  Paul Marean on our staff is skilled at installing simple irrigation systems and is more than happy to consult with you about how he might help you irrigate problem areas.  Please contact Paul directly to arrange a site visit about irrigation.  Of course, Paul is also our resident Garden Designer so can also discuss any new design projects you might have in mind.
Repeat of our Watering Article from August 2013
Watering wands
Watering wands
For those who are hand watering certain plants this summer, I hope you've been using a watering wand!

I can't exist without one. This handy tool connects to your garden hose and has a shut-off valve so you can easily fill a watering can at a distance from your spigot. There is an attachment that acts like a shower head, rapidly filling wells around recently-planted trees and shrubs. Use that dandy shut-off valve when you move on to the next plant.

We strongly urge you to get out and water this weekend, as there hasn't been significantly rainfall yet this year.  The weather is so very pleasant, but hot and dry during the daytime, and we're finding many drooping plants this week during our rounds. See our Summer Watering Tips for more information about how often you should water and how much.

Please let Carmine know if you would like help with watering. Our spray trucks can quickly bring water to thirsty landscapes. We recommend our Stress-X spray of kelp and other micronutrients to help stressed plants recover quickly from any drought damage. 
Pruning Time Is Here!
Spring flowering shrubs will benefit from summer pruning
We've sharpened our pruning shears and replaced saw blades.  Now is the time to begin the pruning of spring blooming shrubs and small trees, along with boxwoods, hollies, leucothoes and other broadleaf evergreens.

Why do we prune?  It's always a good idea to promote better air circulation by removing weak inner growth and crossing branches.  This helps prevent disease and pest infestations.  Some shrubs put on a foot of new growth annually, so if this is not addressed, the shrubs become overgrown in just a few years.

We are experts at rejuvenating and renovating seemingly impossible overgrown shrubs.  You can trust us to do the right thing, even though at first it may look shockingly different!  Remember, pruning stimulates the right kind of growth.

PBOG will be bringing out our chipper to large pruning sites so that we may efficiently deal with brush disposal.  Woodchips are a wonderful natural mulch for woody plants if combined with compost to buffer the release of Nitrogen.  Or they can be used for pathways to the compost bin, woodland garden or other types of walkways.  Otherwise, we will remove the chips for eventual use somewhere else.

Priscilla and Karla will be booking pruning work in the coming weeks.  Please contact us if you have a pruning project in mind.
Plant Pick - David Austin Roses
At this time of year, there is no sight more lovely than a group of beautifully blooming David Austin roses!  English grower Austin has combined old fashioned fragrance and flower form with a gene for repeat bloom.  Colors range from pale blush ivory to yellow to copper to pinks and reds.  Many flowers are double and look peony-like when opened fully.  Leaves are glossy and resistant to black spot.  Austin roses look fabulous in vases, too.

These plants demand a bit of extra care in our area.  We protect crowns of plants for winter once the ground freezes with a layer of compost for extra insulation.  They are marginally hardy in zone 5.  In April, we remove the winter protection and prune canes back hard to the 4-5 strongest ones.  As the warm weather comes on, the plants grow quickly and come into bloom in mid-June.

After mid-July, the roses take a break from blooming.  This is the time to deadhead (a bove a set of 5 outward facing leaves, please) to promote rebloom in late summer.  Any long vegetative canes (all leaves) are pruned out, as these will not bloom.  We foliar feed the roses weekly with a liquid organic fertilizer.  Soon new shoots appear that will set buds for fall bloom, usually flowering through October.
David Austin recommends planting his roses in groups of 3 to 5 plants, as the plants will knit together and form a large mass of color.  How stunning!

Close up of a David Austin rose
David Austin recommends planting roses in groups of 3 to 5
Tribute to Dad at 100!
Priscilla and Dad on Father's Day
Several of you have met my parents, avid gardeners who were my first teachers about plants and how to care for them.  Tips about pruning blueberries and planting flowers and vegetables that I learned at a young age have stayed with me all these years later.  My brother and I picked and sold blueberries (no spray was our slogan) by the roadside during hot July days.  We were allowed to keep the proceeds if we promised to save half, spend the other half.

My father will turn 100 years old on July 8!  When I visit him in the nursing home, he never fails to ask me how many people are working for me, how many trucks I have, and how my clients are doing with their gardens.  He is a voracious reader of any book on a historical topic and keeps a dictionary handy in case he runs across an unfamiliar word.  My mother visits him almost daily and will be celebrating a milestone birthday herself in August.
Plant Health Care Update - Actinovate for Mildew Control
We are using a new product this year called Actinovate.  This is an OMRI listed, wonderful preventative control product for mildew and contains a beneficial microorganism called Streptomyces lydicus.   Al has already sprayed some peonies that were problematic in the past and will now move on to phlox.  It can safely be applied every two weeks.

Watch for our Plant Health Care trucks with their new catchy graphics about our tick and mosquito spray service!  Using all organic products and natural oils, this is safe and effective.  It's not too late to sign up for the biweekly spray program.  Please contact Al Newman to arrange a site visit and estimate.

Speaking of ticks, please refer t o th e atta ched links featuring important health information.  Kirby Stafford, entomologist with the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, has prepared some easily understood information about how ticks operate and what you can do to minimize your chances of a tick bite. We at PBOG stand ready to help you make your yard a safe place for your family and pets by eliminating places where ticks might hide and through our spray program.

Link to Kirby Stafford podcast

Link to WNPR article  
Lawn Care Tips for a Hot Summer
The most important tip for a hot summer is to mow right! 
  • Mow 3 1/2" high to shade soil and improve photosynthesis
  • Return clippings to build organic matter and bag clippings when weed flowers are present
  • Sharpen mower blades after 8 hours of use

Water properly to encourage strong root growth and withstand drought.  Proper watering includes watering in the morning to prevent disease. Water 1-2 times a week depending on your soil type and to a depth of 6".  Important:  When temperatures stay "hot", "cool" the grass down by watering more frequently for shorter periods. Watch the grass, if it doesn't bounce back when walked on or is looking wilted and brown, it needs a drink.


Bare soil needs to be covered.  If it is left unattended, weeds will find a way to inhabit bare areas.  We cover bare spots with a perennial rye grass that germinates quickly.


If a soil test hasn't been done, Pumpkin Brook can take one.  Soil tests help determine what products to use for a healthy lawn. 

Priscilla's To-Do List for late June/early July:
  • Follow our summer watering instructions for any plant installed in 2014-16
  • Fertilize peonies after bloom to promote good bud set for next year
  • Lantana is a good summer
    annual choice
    Deadhead iris, columbines, peonies, salvias, roses and other late spring bloomers
  • Clean up decaying bulb foliage after it yellows
  • Plant summer annuals to fill gaps or containers for a burst of color
  • Tie up tomatoes and pinch off suckers to control sprawl
  • Harvest lettuce, chard, herbs and other greens in the vegetable garden and replace bitter, bolted crops with new heat-tolerant varieties
  • Topdress your asparagus patch now with compost and top off straw mulch
  • Keep up with weeding, lifting the basal leaves of plants to scrape out weeds lurking below
  • Stake tall annuals and perennials
  • Mow lawns high (3 1/2") and less frequently in the drought to shade out weed seeds
  • Continue to water lawns seeded this spring
  • Apply a layer of mulch to container plants with exposed soil to help conserve moisture
  • Begin pruning of rhododendrons, azaleas, hollies, boxwoods, leucothoes, crabapples, dogwoods, spiraeas and other spring flowering shrubs and trees
  • Make notes about plants to add, transplant or remove from the garden later in the season as now you can see how much space each plant fills
And now for my big news:  I am taking some unprecedented time off in July to travel to Sichuan province, China and eastern Tibet at the invitation of two clients.  We will embark on a two-week botanical exploration of the alpine areas rich in plant treasures, joining other New England Wild Flower Society members.  This is the fabled land of the blue poppy, home of Asian rhododendron species and the paperbark maple.

In my absence, my staff will be prepared to fill in for me as follows:
Land of the Blue Poppy
Please contact them directly, and I know you will be in good hands until I return on July 25!  Our next newsletter will have photos and tales from the trip.  I look forward to seeing how your gardens have grown when I return.

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