August 2020       Volume 10, No. 7
Hello Everyone,
We've been experiencing some intense heat lately! Happily, there have been periods of rain (1.5" to 2" in some towns per week). The drought status was reduced from Category 2 to Category 1 in our area, an improvement. However, this situation still bears watching, especially for plantings that went in the ground last fall or in the spring.

With water bans in place in most towns, we want to remind you that we at PBOG can bring water to you in our 200 gallon spray tanks with long hoses, mounted on the Plant Health Care trucks. To the water we add an organic compound of kelp and minerals called Stress X. This solution helps plants recover and resist heat stress. Please let Reese, our Plant Health Care Manager, know if you would like this service:

We've outfitted each crew member with watering cans and wands, perfect for helping you water containers if you are away or find it hard to get outdoors in the heat. Our Field Manager, Rick Burnett,, can schedule this work.

We have some other timely reminders in our Garden To-Do list this month!

Reminder about Email Billing

This year we are emailing our monthly invoices to you rather than using the US mail (unless requested otherwise). So please remember to check your email carefully, especially at the end and beginning of the month. Terms are net 15 days from the date of the invoice. A $35 late fee will be added if the invoice is not paid within 30 days from the due date. Let Nancy Altman in our office know if your preferred email address has changed, 978-425-5531 or

Donna Kosakowski, our part-time bookkeeper, is mailing out reminder statements in advance of the final due period to help you avoid our late fee. Please contact Donna with any questions, 978-425-5531,

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter, which keeps our small business "house" in good order.

Plant Pick:  Combinations to cover spring perennials that go summer dormant

What to do when your beautiful spring garden suddenly has a large empty space in August? Here are some perennial pairings that I've discovered over the years to hide declining foliage and gaps in the border.

Lupinus perennis
(left) and Lobelia siphilitica (right)

Lupinus perennis and Lobelia siphilitica

Let the native lupine foliage "ripen" like bulb foliage in order to photosynthesize. The lupines will self-seed around the area, too, so don't deadhead or supplemental water. Interplant another native perennial, Lobelia siphilitica, the great blue lobelia, to fill in and bloom from August into September. Let this one self-seed also for even more color next year! This pairing prefers dappled light but can tolerate full sun in rich soil garden beds.

Dormant Poppy Foliage (left) and Baby's Breath (right)

Papaver orientalis and Gypsophilia paniculata

Oriental poppies sure are glorious in late May, blooming with Siberian iris. Again, the poppy foliage has to be allowed to go brown and ugly in order to create energy for next year's bloom. Disguise this look with low, billowing Baby's breath in either light pink or white. Both plants enjoy dry, full sun conditions. The poppy will resprout fresh green foliage in the fall beneath the Baby's breath, which by then will be cut back and reblooming slightly.

Dicentra spectabilis 
and Clematis

Dicentra spectabilis and Clematis 'Mrs. Robert Brydon'

The old-fashioned bleeding heart naturally turns yellow and brown by August. Gradually remove this foliage. If you plant a trailing clematis called 'Mrs. Robert Brydon' behind the bleeding heart, it will scramble over the ground to fill the emptying space. You'll see a flush of fresh new foliage and pale blue flowers in August from the clematis! Be sure to set this combination in the rear of a border to give the clematis plenty of space to run, keeping it out of a mowed lawn area. No need to stake the clematis, either.

Bulb Ordering Time has Arrived!

One of my favorite times on the garden calendar is ordering bulbs for spring bloom. That time is now through Labor Day! In fact, we had a lull in plant buying activity a few weeks ago, so we've already placed preliminary bulb orders based on notes and conversations from last spring. Let's add to these orders for your garden. Please contact Priscilla,, to make plans for your order. In some cases, we may want to make a site visit to firm up quantities needed. Laura Semple, our part-time Decor Coordinator, is also assisting with this process.

Daffodil Hillside
This past week, we had a tip from Brent Heath, owner of Brent and Becky's Bulbs, during a phone conversation. Brent expects that some varieties will sell out quickly this season due to the many gardeners stuck at home with COVID-19 restrictions who are anxious to improve their grounds by planting spring blooming bulbs. Ordering has been brisker than usual at this bulb company year to date!

So don't miss out - get your bulb order in now. We'll be scheduling bulb plantings between Columbus Day and Veteran's Day so that bulbs can root well before the ground freezes.

Fall Planting Time is Not Far Off! Make Plans Now

We've already assembled a list of gardens ready for fall planting or some renovation. But it's not too late to schedule a consultation for your own garden. Now is the ideal time to assess the situation and design plans for improvement. Please contact Kimberly,, or our Designer, Deanna Jayne,, for your appointment.

Fall Planting will run from late August through late October, once the weather cools down and rains return.

Victory Garden 2.0 - Summer Vegetable Garden Maintenance Reminders

This reprint from the National Gardening Association will strike a chord with anyone out there who planted a "Pandemic Edible Garden" this spring! See the August To-Do list below for other helpful hints.

Meet Jeff Berardi, one of our new 2020 Crew Gardners

Jeff Berardi
Jeff trained as a photographer at the Hallmark School of Photography and worked as a professional photographer for many years. At the same time, he developed his own gardens at home. His artistic eye has made him a natural pruner and editer of plants! I find that Jeff has a quick way of understanding your plants and overall intent, and he works very well independently once shown the garden. We welcome him to our part-time staff this season.  

Diana Shomstein promoted to Crew Supervisor

Diana Shomstein
We're thrilled to announce that Diana is joining our staff of full-time Crew Supervisors this month. Diana had farm training and work through The Farm School in Athol and the Wright-Locke Farm in Winchester. She came to us to learn ornamental plants. Diana has quickly shown her talent and skill with our daily rounds on the crew, so she'll be set off and running with her own crew gardeners and ongoing coaching from Priscilla and Kim.

Priscilla's Garden To-Do List for August:

  • Lift, divide and replant tall bearded iris
  • New bearded iris can be planted now through early October
  • Keep new plantings and containers well watered (see summer watering tips) and let PBOG know if you need our help due to town watering restrictions
  • Weeds are gigantic now, so keep up with hand weeding and top off any bare soil with sterilized straw or mulch immediately
  • Deadhead spent perennials and annuals to promote rebloom and make space for fall color to come
  • Garlic should be harvested and set to dry by early month - if you let it go longer, the heads of garlic will split and not be as tasty
  • Harvest beans, summer squash, cucumbers, peppers, eggplants, tomatoes and basil promptly to make way for successive crops
  • Pinch suckers on tomato plants to make them leaner and more productive, less sprawling (see
  • Remove spent crops such as peas and spinach that don't thrive in August heat and replant the open area with beans or summer squash seeds, mulching heavily to retain moisture
  • Stake and tie tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, kale etc. that are getting tall and may be leaning over other plants
  • Strawberry runners can be cut or transplanted to a new bed (keep well watered and mulched)
  • Control invasive plants now through mid September, before seed matures and drops
  • Continue pruning woody shrubs and trees, especially spring bloomers and evergreens like boxwood and holly
  • Update container plants as needed throughout the month
  • Ticks and mosquitoes continue to be problems in our gardens, so notify Reese now to inaugurate our monthly spray program,
  • Watch for dogwood sawfly on trees and shrubs, a defoliating white worm on the undersides of leaves which can be controlled with spot spraying of a Neem oil product
  • Scale continues to be an issue this year on Magnolias, bowoods, hollies and yews, so prune these plants hard to allow for better air circulation and spot spray the pruned plants
  • Young scale can be air blown off the stems or leaves, contact Reese for help,
  • Take time to visit a public garden for inspiration and ideas ( and by reservation)
We look forward to helping you keep up with your garden this month - there's certainly a lot to do and enjoy! Remember to pace yourself and drink plenty of water if you are out in the heat.

And if you're interested in planting any summer lettuce, let me know now! We have some fresh 6 packs for sale, grown from seed in our nursery.

See you soon,
Priscilla and the PBOG Crew

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