April 2018     Volume 8, No. 3

Hello Everyone,

Our crews are out and about now, and we have been helping our clients deal with a lot of fallen branches and broken plants from the March nor'easters, especially east of Rt. 495. To the west, however, we don't see as much damage.  We still have chain saws and chipper ready, plus skilled people to run them, and we thank you for your patience as we make the rounds of the trouble spots.  Hopefully, we'll all be on an even keel, get on our regular maintenance schedule, and enjoy the fact that spring is here!

Glory of the Snow 

Daffodils in their
sunny glory!

Oh what a sweet smell of crocus! 

The blue Glory of the Snow was snapped last week naturalizing in a West Concord lawn. 

Turning to our vegetable gardens: onion sets, spinach and pea seeds can certainly be planted now and will withstand the cold soils just fine.  Hold off on other plantings for another week.

Tribute to Carmine
After 10 years of varied and loyal service, our own Director of Plant Health Care, Carmine Imbriglio, has left us for another position.  He will be establishing a Plant Health Care department for a local wholesale nursery .  Carmine worked this past winter on servicing and updating all our equipment and reorganizing our shop layout so that this year's crews could get off to an efficient start.  We gave him a good send-off at our recent staff training day.

Carmine worked on many special projects for Pumpkin Brook over the years:  investigating a natural remedy to effectively control ticks and mosquitoes in our yards and gardens, then upgrading the application equipment for state-of-the-art protection; inaugurating our compost tea program and updating equipment; preparing numerous pruning and hardscape repair estimates; garden coaching with clients; and mentoring his successors in the Plant Health Care department.  

We wish him all the best for his future!

Staff Updates

Al Newman remains as Manager of Plant Health Care and is training Reese Crotteau as Plant Health Care Technician.  These two men have already inaugurated our Tick and Mosquito Spraying Season.  Compost tea time is just around the corner.  We usually wait until soil temperatures reach 50 degrees.  If you haven't signed up yet, it's not too late.  Please contact
Kimberly Kuliesis in our office. 

Russell Stafford is a part-time Senior Crew Supervisor and will be filling in for me on buying trips and for consultations on editing of beds and borders or replacement plants.  It will be great to have his assistance, as I am sometimes overbooked with this kind of work!  He will also manage some client sites.

Our able supervisors this season are Adam Hawley (doubling as Project Foreman for large plantings and projects), Kyle Hagen, Lee Gadway and Roy Christoph.   New crew members include Tom Boris and Jim Anderten.  

About the Garden...

Plant Pick:  What Else Can We Plant in a Cold April?

Deciduous woody plants that drop leaves in fall are still dormant until around May 1.  So this is a fine time to plant trees and shrubs.  With Earth Day just passed on April 22 and Arbor Day on April 28, why not plant a new tree, perhaps replacing one that was recently damaged?

Here are some ideas for smaller stature native trees that will be more durable in windstorms if a good structure (established through careful pruning) is initiated at planting:


Eastern Redbud
Cercis canadensis

Hop Hornbeam
Ostrya virginiana

American Hornbeam
Carpinus carolinianus

I like these three trees because they are all around 30 feet at maturity and are easily integrated into almost any yard, especially at wood's edge.  And as native plants, they will provide food and shelter for pollinating bugs and the birds that seek this sustenance.  Although the redbud is native to the Appalachians, it usually fares well in New England.  If damaged by a falling branch, it quickly regenerates with new growth.

Fun and local things to do here in greater Boston

Check out over 25,000 daffodils in bloom at Tower Hill this month; they offer guided tours every Sunday 2-3:30 through June 24th. 

Syringa 'Mary C. Bingham'

Syringa vulgaris 
Japanese tree lilac 

Lilacs, Lilacs, and Lilacs, Oh My!   Lilac Sunday is just around the corner on Mother's Day at the Arnold Arboretum. 

Priscilla's To-Do List for April
  • Remove winter protection such as salt marsh hay, boughs or pine needles 
  • Remove and store wooden shrub protectors
  • Cut winter moth bands from trees with a pair of scissors
  • Rake out beds
  • Cut back brown stalks of perennials
  • Cut, shear and shape subshrubs such as lavender, candytuft, sage, and caryopteris to start them over for a new season
  • Prune butterfly bush, smoke tree, Hydrangea 'Annabelle' and beauty berry to 6" height (the so-called cutback shrubs)
  • Clean up winter storm damage from fallen branches, checking all woody plants for potential breakage to prune out
  • Remove any plants promptly that have major storm damage, and plan to install replacements soon to take advantage of cool temperatures and spring rains
  • Install new designs now through Summer Solstice
  • Shear back all ornamental grasses, even the blue or greenish leaved ones, to start them over for a new season
  • Cut back any vinca or ivy browned by harsh winter winds, but leave browned rhododendron alone for now to drop naturally and re-leaf in time
  • Plant containers with spring blooming annuals and perennials, refreshing potting soil
  • Prune climbing hydrangea and train to its support (if vertical situation)
  • Prune and fertilize roses near the end of month, when buds swell, eliminating weak and crossing canes
  • Prune all hydrangeas near the end of month when buds swell
  • Prune fruit trees before May 1 leaf out
  • Divide fall blooming perennials in the second half of the month and transplant other perennials as needed
  • Plant bare root material promptly, such as roses, fruit trees, or perennials that have arrived via mail order
  • Enjoy spring blooming bulbs and take notes for additions next fall
  • Begin to edge beds and prepare for mulching

I look forward to seeing you in the garden very soon!


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