Volume 7, April 2017
April Fool!

Another snowstorm or rainstorm - another delay to real spring weather!  We are revved up and ready to get started with the season's work, but Mother Nature says NOT YET.  Hopefully, we'll be out there by the middle of the month and will be in touch with you to arrange our start date.

In the meantime...
Staff Update
Adam Hawley has taken on the role of Project Foreman for our large installation projects.  He joined our staff last year as Plant Health Care Technician and will assist in this department as  needed in 2017.  Adam loves to prune and maintain fine gardens, so we'll also use him as a Crew Supervisor between projects.

Kim Kuliesis has been promoted to Crew Supervisor this season and will work Mondays-Wednesdays. 

We bid a fond farewell to Chuck Papalia and Martha Ludlum who have taken year-ro
und jobs elsewhere.  In the next issue we will introduce our new hires with photos.
Spring Is Here, but What's Under All the Snow?  We can help!
reprinted from March 2015 
Emerging green shoots and life are there, it's just sleeping.  Be patient, and our true spring will come at its own pace.

Let the snow melt!
Broken branches have to be handled on a case by case basis.   Many shrubs will rejuvenatejust 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 impac
Damage from salt spray
t 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

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!  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
Planning an Event? We Can Help!
Will you be entertaining outdoors this summer?  That means the garden will be highly visible.  Graduations, weddings, home concerts, family reunions...these are some of the events we have helped with in the past.  We'd be glad to help you, too.

Now's the time to make plans.  I had an earlier career as a special events planner, so I know all too well the ins and outs of getting ready for a big occasion.  I love to use checklists and timelines to chart progress.

In the garden, it's a good idea to consider circulation first.  Where will people enter, and how will they move from a seated part (ceremony or presentation) of the event to the socializing part?  Where are the ways to move through the yard, or perhaps into the house and out again?  What about parking?  Is there an unsightly view to block?
Create a wedding arch
with vines
Plan to remove or regroup excess objects for better circulation.  Bring together comfortable seating.  Simplify and streamline garden beds by removing plants that no longer make sense or are in decline.  Decide upon any replacements now so our crew can get them planted well in advance.  Perennials that need spring dividing can have this attention in late April/early May.  It will be important to edge beds and mulch early to supress weeds and conserve moisture.  Annuals be added, if desired, in late May when temperatures warm up sufficiently.

Containers can really enhance your occasion.  I've used them to actually direct traffic, as they can block certain areas off.  In other spots, they say "here's where we want you to enter."  One great idea is to start filling containers in early spring, then keep them going through the season so they will grow out with a natural look.  Minor additions may be needed, depending on the date of your event.  Since containers are moveable, you can trial different placements ahead of time to settle on the perfect positioning.

Please contact Priscilla for help planning your garden event.
Pumpkin Brook Services
Al Spray
Al provides emergency watering
during last summer's drought
Did You Know?  Pumpkin Brook Organic Gardening provides:
  • Tick and mosquito spraying with natural oils
  • Spot spraying for pests and diseases
  • Organic lawn fertilization program
  • Lawn renovation
  • Lawn mowing
  • Weekly, biweekly or monthly fine garden maintenance
  • Naturalistic pruning of shrubs and trees up to 15'
  • Garden design and installation service
  • Hardscape repair, design and installation
  • Garden sitting during vacations
  • Emergency watering service
  • One-on-one garden coaching
  • Consultations
See our newly updated website for more information.
Drought Monitor Update
According to the Mass. DCR as of March 1, eastern and central Massachusetts are in a Drought Advisory state, down from a Drought Watch in February.  We'll hope that the silver lining in our late snowfall this year will be a return to Normal conditions!
Exotic Pest Outlook for Spring
Al Newman, our Plant Health Care Manager, attended several seminars this winter to stay current on identification and management of exotic pests in the landscape.  Here are some relevant tidbits:

Gypsy moth outbreaks are expected to be severe in the western part of the state
Gypsy moth larva
and may drift into central regions, perhaps as bad as in the 80s.  Gypsy moth has been controlled by a fungus in the landscape for well over a decade.  But there is an interesting correlation to the acorn crop:  there were fewer acorns and thus mice last year due to the drought.  Mice take care of the fungus, and without as many of them, the threat of rampant gypsy moth damage is here.  The pest will start feeding on oak trees, then move through the canopy to other species.

Winter moth is still a threat in our area, with damage to foliage becomingevident in early May on maples, dogwoods, birches, shadbushes, roses and blueberries.  A parasitic fly predator, Cyzensis albicans, was released in the Wellesley area and is spreading outward at the rate of 2.5 miles per year.  Experts say this pest will be under control in our region in several years.  Keep abreast of the latest research at Dr. Joe Elkinton's UMass lab.

Traps set for Asian Longhorn Beetles have remained empty this year, so the pest may have been contained.

Spotted lantern fly
A new pest, Spotted Lantern Fly, is present in Pennsylvania and could bea threat here if outdoor furniture, stone or firewood is moved into our state from Pennsylvania.  Eggs are laid on such objects.  The pest will impact willow, pine, poplar, maple, walnut, oak, grape, apple and fruit trees.

Excessive nitrogen fertilizer (such as the type used on
Wooly adelgid on hemlock
turf) benefits the proliferation of Hemlock Woolly Adelgid on our native hemlocks and Elongate Hemlock Scale that showsup on Fir, Spruce and Hemlock.  Keep such trees out of lawn areas.  If they are already there, cut large circles around them, plant groundcovers and mulch the areas.
Priscilla's To-Do List for April
Much of this list will have to wait for snow melt!
  • Shear back ornamental grasses and cut down ferns to start these plants over for spring
  • Prune butterfly bush, smoke tree, caryopteris and the like back to a low framework and remove weak or dead branches completely
  • Shear lavender, hyssop, dianthus, sage, candytuft, heather and other low subshrubs
  • Repair lawn damage from plowing or voles
  • Finalize your lawn care program
    See our website on how to purchase this
    very useful rain barrel
  • Sign up for the tick and mosquito spray program - ticks will be out under leaves when the snow melts
  • Dormant prune overgrown deciduous shrubs such as lilac, ninebark, viburnum while their branching structure is visible; lightly prune rhododendrons and azaleas if needed for structure, but preserve flower buds
  • Prune fruit trees
  • Cut back raspberry canes
  • Hollies can be pruned if they were not cut for berries in December
  • Prune honeysuckle and wisteria vines to a framework so new flowering growth can begin
  • Set up a rain barrel to capture spring rains and use it later during hot, dry periods
  • Remove any remaining carcasses of annuals or vegetables from last season
  • Sow seeds of peas, carrots, swiss chard, beets and spinach in the vegetable garden
  • Plant onion sets and herbs
  • Rake out beds and cut down browned stalks of perennials
  • When buds appear, prune roses and hydrangeas at the end of the month
  • Refresh containers for spring
  • Fertilize bulbs just after bloom with a slow release bulb fertilizer
We look forward to seeing you in the garden this month!

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