Volume 7, November 2017
Hi Everyone,

Real fall weather and a frost have come at last, and our crews are scurrying around to complete a myriad of tasks.  Any given day will find us amending soil, cutting down perennials, pruning trees, planting bulbs, repairing or installing small hardscape projects, fixing fences or installing new ones, shredding leaves, changing over containers - and the list goes on!  Can't forget the final tick spraying of the season, which is happening this week.  Please let us know if we can help you navigate this busy time of the year.

And now is the time to think ahead to a garden renovation or expansion project that you might like to design with us this winter.  Then you can be first in line for a spring planting!  Our staff designer, Paul Marean, is available during the off season to discuss and refine projects with you.  Contact Paul at our office, 978-425-5531 or e-mail
Plant Pick - Ilex verticillata - Winterberry
Now that the landscape is shedding leaves like mad, one shrub really begins to stand out from the rest:  our native deciduous holly, the winterberry.  Laden now with red berries, you can see them brightening up wet meadows and fine gardens alike.  While they prefer wet feet, any
Ilex verticillata _Winter Red_
Ilex verticillata 'Winter Red'
good moisture-retentive garden soil will suit them.

There are many cultivars, short and tall, for every garden situation.  'Winter Red' has long been the standard at 6'-7' mature size.  'Sparkleberry' is another fine cultivar.  For smaller spaces, it's hard to beat 'Red Sprite' which matures at about 4' x 4.'  I'm trying out 'Winter Gold' with orangey-golden fruits, and my young shrubs have finally put out their first crop of berries this season!

This is a great year for the winterberries.  Rain came at just the point when the shrubs flowered (insignificantly) in early June.  There was plentiful July rain to help set fruit.  Remember that you need a male pollinator for the berrying female plants.  
Ilex verticillata _Winter Gold_
Ilex verticillata 'Winter Gold'

I'll be cutting some of my 'Red Sprite' branches soon for winter containers.  I do this the day before I am going to use them so that the berries stay fresh as long as possible.  

Watch for robins sometime in January or February.  They love to strip the berries off this shrub and will work at it for many hours.  The freezing and thawing cycles of winter make the fruit more palatable to birds, and it is a fine source of energy in the bleak season.
Connecting with Fungi
Since we are spending so much time amending soil this month, I wanted to share this article  by Roberta Bailey from the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association.  It opens up the fascinating world of biological life in the soil, too small to see with the human eye, but ever so important to the well-functioning ecosystem that is your garden.
What Not to Do Just Yet
Mound compost around the root system of your roses
Wait just a bit, until temperatures settle into the 20s, when the ground freezes.  This could be in December or even January.  Then apply salt marsh hay to strawberry beds and perennials that are vulnerable to loss.  The hay will help moderate temperatures during the winter season ahead.  Doing this task too early only makes a home for rodents, who will gnaw and chew at the roots of your plants during warm spells!

Many of us have cold pockets on our properties where we have lost plants in years without reliable snow cover.  These are the areas that benefit from a layer of salt marsh hay.  Its weed seeds cannot germinate out of the salt marshes, so it's fine to use (and then reuse) in regular garden beds.

I also like to protect heaths and heathers in our region with a layer of pine needles and evergreen boughs to hold them down.  This prevents winter wind desiccation.

For hybrid tea and David Austin roses, we mound compost around the root systems when the ground freezes as an extra layer of protection.  Canes on these plants can be pruned to 12"-18" ahead of time, once most of the leaves are gone.
Western Conifer Seed Bugs Seek Winter Shelter
And I thought you were
a stink bug!!!
We thought you would enjoy this article by author Mary Holland about Western Conifer Seed Bugs.
Mary Holland is a Vermont naturalist, photographer, columnist and author and has had an abiding passion for natural history all her life. Born and raised in Massachusetts on a turkey farm, Mary attended the University of Michigan's School of Natural Resources (Naturalist Curriculum) before working as a naturalist at The Museum of the Hudson Highlands in New York state; directing the state-wide Environmental Learning for the Future (ELF) program for the Vermont Institute of Natural Science (VINS); working as a resource naturalist for the Massachusetts Audubon Society; designing and presenting my own hands-on "Knee-High Nature Programs" for libraries and elementary schools throughout Vermont and New Hampshire; and writing and photographing a nature column (also "Naturally Curious") for several newspapers and magazines.  Her articles and/or photographs have appeared in The Valley News; Northern Woodlands; "The Outside Story"; Upper Valley Life; Here in Hanover; Woodstock magazine; The Harvard Press; The Vermont Guardian; and The Rutland Herald. Follow her blog at Naturally Curious with Mary Holland.
Seasonal Display Service 
Have an empty urn or winterproof container?  Let us fill it with glorious greens, colorful twigs and berries for the winter season!  Contact Priscilla to arrange this service. 
Winter Container with Red Twigs
And Don't Forget our Other Fall Services  
Contact Priscilla to arrange for these services. 
Shrub Protectors -
Custom Made!
Leaf Shredding

Time for the Final Garden Tasks of the Year - What Are They?
Priscilla's To-Do List for November
  • Clean up vegetable gardens completely to limit disease and pest overwintering sites
  • Top off raised beds with a new layer of our raised bed mix
  • Cut down frosted perennials, pull spent annuals (consider leaving a few sites for pollinators to overwinter)
  • Dig dahlias, gladiolus and cannas and store for winter at 50 degrees
  • Empty containers, prepare to fill with winter greens at end of month
  • Store ceramic containers in a shed, garage or basement to prevent cracking; large ones can be left outdoors if full of soil and elevated slightly off the ground
  • Drain and bring in garden hoses to prolong useful life
  • Complete soil amending and fall fertilizing of woody plants
  • Finish planting spring flowering bulbs
    Deer Browsing
    We can spray your shrubs so they won't be so appealing
  • Tie climbing rose canes to firm support for winter
  • Rake leaves off lawns, walkways and driveways
  • Leave a layer of leaves on garden beds as additional winter mulch
  • Apply antidesiccant to newly planted broadleaf evergreens and those with a western exposure or history of winter burn
  • Apply deer repellent to vulnerable shrubs
This is the season to give thanks, and I am ever grateful for the opportunity to work outdoors with each of you and our staff in some very wonderful gardens!

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