Priscilla Hutt Williams

35 Turner Road, Townsend, Massachusetts 01469

(TEL) 978-597-3005  (FAX) 772-264-7886


 Volume 5, March 2015

In This Issue





A snowdrop is coming alive under the leaves at Priscilla's


Damage from road salt


Winter burn on Boxwood


Deer Browsed Arborvitae
Deer damage to Arborvitae



Plow damage to lawn










Winter aconite on hillside

















While the snowbanks slowly melt, here at Pumpkin Brook we are busy packing!  See article below about our BIG MOVE!
PBOG Business Office Moves to Phoenix Park
Phoenix Park in Shirley
We're moving our business office to larger quarters near Route 2 at Phoenix Park in Shirley.  This large complex began as a cordage mill, built by the Shakers.  It has been renovated as a green building and sports one of the largest solar arrays in the state.  Our maintenance division will also have its headquarters here.

Our new address is 2 Shaker Road, Unit B217A, Shirley, MA  01464.  We will let you know our phone number as soon as it is available.  Our fax and e-mails will stay the same, and our corporate office will remain at 35 Turner Road in Townsend.  

While we're at it, we're moving our commercial shop space in West Townsend just down the line to a larger unit in the same building.  We plan to be all moved in everywhere by April 1.
Spring is here, but What's under all the Snow?
We Can Help!

Emerging green shoots and life are there, it's just sleeping.  Be patient, and our true spring will come at its own pace.

Broken branches have to be handled on a case by case basis.   Many shrubs will rejuvenate just fine with careful pruning.  Damaged ornamentals such as small Japanese maples can be carefully bolted back together using arborist rods and pins.  Be sure not to try to pull any woody plant out of a mass of ice or snow.  Branches are brittle in the cold and will readily snap.

Salt spray from roadside salt mixes is damaging to needled and broadleafed evergreens.  You'll see tell-tale browned foliage.  Some of this can be pruned out or allowed to drop naturally this spring.  We may choose to flush extra water through the soil or apply gypsum blended with compost as a topdressing to help ameliorate the impact of high salts in the soil.

Burn on broadleaf evergreens that shows up as brown or black leaves may not be as bad this year since most shrubs spent the winter with a protective coat of snow.  If you have winterburn now, consider having us apply anti-desiccant next November to protect your shrubs.

Deer damage may be heavy in some areas due to the depth of the snow and the late onset of spring.  We can still spray plants with our deer repellent, so let us know if this is needed.  Many damaged plants will re-leaf later this season.

Plow damage to lawns and beds near driveways should be repaired and regraded immediately.  We can resow grass seed once temperatures warm up.  Any perennials that have been inadvertently tossed up should be replanted or discarded if necessary.

Plow damage to walkways, retaining walls, landscape lighting and hardscape features can be frightening to see.  Don't attempt to lift heavy stones or touch any broken wires.  Call us for help with both a temporary and a permanent fix.

Winter moths and ticks will be rampant this spring with all the moisture!  Hemlock woolly adelgid may have been killed off almost entirely by cold temperatures.  Be sure to renew your contract for timely spraying of your plants and property.

Tunneling in lawns or beds is a sure sign of winter-time rodent activity.  Again, this can be raked out, regraded, and new topsoil brought in as required.  Stems of woody plants may have been chewed or girdled.  We'll examine these and make recommendations about pruning out or replacing the plants.

Dog poop left in garden or lawn areas is one unfortunate fact of life during a New England winter.  Clean up as soon as possible, since dog feces contain a variety of pathogens and parasites that can transmit to humans or other pets.   They are also very high in Nitrogen, so it can burn lawns and plant foliage.  Here are some disposal ideas:
  • Bag and throw in trash that will be incinerated
  • Collect and flush down toilet if it will be treated by a septic system or sewage plant
  • Avoid putting pet waste in backyard compost piles which may not get hot enough to kill parasites and pathogens
  • Bury waste at least a foot deep and away from food gardens, making sure that groundwater levels remain well below the waste
  • Use an inground disposal device such as the Doggie Dooley
The First Blooms of Spring
Fall Blooming Native Witch Hazel
A welcome site

Witch hazel, Hamamelis x intermedia, is the first flowering shrub to welcome the new season.  The bright yellow 'Arnold Promise' was developed at our own Arnold Arboretum and is a truly welcome sight.  It often begins bloom while snow is on the ground.  Another great variety is the reddish 'Jelena.'

When that snow begins to melt, I like to mass bulbs such as Iris reticulata (rock garden iris), Galanthus elwesii (snowdrop), and Eranthis hyemalis (winter aconite) beneath a witch hazel or near a walkway where they will be enjoyed by passersby.   These plants slowly spread and are very long lasting in the landscape.

To the left are some photos from Winterthur, an estate in Delaware, showing these tiny bulbs carpeting the ground in March beneath overstory trees.  I love these sheets of color!
Come on out on Sunday, March 29 for a Talk by Curious Naturalist, Mary Holland

A free lecture will be held in Groton this Sunday and is open to all interested families.  Mary Holland, author of Naturally Curious, will be bringing her collection of natural artifacts and discussing little-known facts about birds, insects, plants and animals.  Bring your questions about how animals adapt to spring and summer after such a long winter!   Mary will be selling her book and her new children's book, too.

This event will be held at the Nashua River Watershed Association, 592 Main Street (Rt. 119), Groton.  It is co-sponsored by the NRWA and Groton Garden Club, with a grant from the Groton Commissioners of Trust Lecture Fund.

Space is limited, so please RSVP to Pam Gilfillan, 978-448-0299, PamG@nashuarivewrwatershed.org

Hope to see you there - I'll be introducing the speaker!
Priscilla's To-do List for a Snowy March:
Pruning gives this hedge new life
  • Spray dormant oil on fruit trees and snowball viburnums
  • Prune fruit trees and grapevines as plants emerge from the snow
  • Renew colored twig dogwoods by removing darkened stems
  • Check all woody plants for winter damage and prune out accordingly or plan to replace
  • Fix plow damage at the ground layer
  • Purchase cool weather seeds to direct sow in a few weeks:  lettuce, spinach, peas
  • Place your order with us for May seedlings
  • Sharpen all gardening tools
  • Explore garden web sites and books
  • Schedule a garden walk-through or consultation with Priscilla
  • Finalize your design projects with Paul Marean
Hoping to see you in the near future.