January 2022 — Volume 12, No. 1
Warm Greetings from My Garden to Yours!
With a nice layer of snow covering the ground in most of our region, now is high season for a gardener’s rest and relaxation! During the week at PBOG, we are busy ordering materials and plants for spring and updating some of our internal procedures. 

The first round of maintenance and plant health care contracts has been emailed. More will follow in the coming weeks. We will be setting up virtual meetings or phone calls to answer your questions and make plans for next season together. I look forward to these discussions!

If you haven’t yet set up your meeting, please let Kimberly know at once.

Priscilla and the PBOG Crew
Entrance corner off driveway showcases a ‘Summer Fun’ dogwood, with PBOG staff keeping new plants well hydrated in hot June weather
PBOG to Begin Work with Independent Landscape Designers in 2022
A new year always brings changes, and we at PBOG have decided to change the way we handle design services. We will still design containers, in-ground seasonal displays of bulbs and annuals, special event needs, and take care of small plantings and transplantings on site. However, the development of master plans and planting plans for large areas will be referred to one or more independent designers. 

We thank Deanna Jayne, our former in-house designer, for her three years in this role. We’ll continue to collaborate with Deanna on installing the designs she completed this past fall and the new ones she is working on in 2022. She has now set up her own independent business called ecoDesigns. 

We also hope to collaborate with Holly Ben-Joseph, a landscape architect and former staff member, if demand dictates.

Please contact Priscilla if you have questions about this change.
Questions from you:
Why hasn’t my winterberry, crabapple, or holly held onto its fruit this winter?

Per University of North Carolina Extension, woody plants may abort fruit that was set in dry soil. Remember back to last June! There was a two to three-week period of very high temperatures and no rain. The soil was definitely dried-out as we finished our spring planting season. In fact, we delayed finishing one planting until fall due to the extreme conditions.
Heavy-fruiting winterberry bush in snow
Heavy-fruiting dwarf winterberry shrub in snow
Also, if you just planted two to three years ago, the fruit may continue to abort or avoid setting in this time frame while a good root system establishes.

So, patience is needed! And in the meantime, we all need to be sure to provide adequate moisture throughout the establishment period. We at PBOG have also had success scratching in Humates, a granular conglomeration of micronutrients, to jump-start bloom and fruit on young woody material. This practice is best done in the fall.
blue jays perched on winter berry branches
Blue jays feast on frosted winterberries
Remember also that birds come to feed on these berries at various points during the late fall and winter. Usually, the fruits need to go through several freezing and thawing periods until they are palatable to birds. If you notice that your berries are suddenly gone, it may mean that bluebirds, robins, or cedar waxwings have been dining. Some experts are now advising us to plant shrubs to feed the birds and not to bother with winter bird feeders.
Winter Work Update - Dormant Pruning
Winterberries and hollies bloom on new wood, so we will be shaping these mature shrubs in early spring to create pleasing natural templates for berries in fall and winter 2022-23. Crabapples and other small deciduous trees can be pruned this winter until April, during their dormant season. And, of course, we will be pruning the cutback shrubs such as smoke trees and butterfly bush in early spring.

PBOG took advantage of a very long, warm fall to tackle a lot of dormant tree pruning. We hope to call back a few staff members during the winter to continue this work. Our specialty is fruit orchards and ornamental trees up to 15’ in height.

Please contact Kim if you have a dormant pruning project.
Dormant pruning set up, a latter next to a bare tree
Crew readies dormant tree pruning apparatus
Reese prunes dormant shrubs in December
Reese prunes dormant shrubs in December.
January Reading Suggestions
Winterland Book Cover
I love to read and want to share what is on my table this winter:

Winterland by Cathy Rees has lots of color photos to demonstrate how to flesh out your home landscape at this coldest season of the year. Her accompanying text is down-to-earth and practical. I particularly like her mention of some of my favorite evergreen and workhorse ground covers: Hellebore, Big root Geranium, and Waldsteinia!
Claudia West’s book, Planting in a Post-Wild World, written with Thomas Rainer, has been sitting here mainly unread due to general busyness. I’m just dipping into it again. Here the emphasis is on creating layered plant communities, exactly what we at PBOG have been advocating for many years. Give up acres of mulch and fill your beds with plants of different heights, textures, and bloom times! I gain so much inspiration from walks in the wild, and Claudia has taken some great photos on her hikes in various seasons that can inform this type of planting.
Planting in a Post-Wild World book cover
The Living Landscape Book Cover
Doug Tallamy’s writings, especially The Living Landscape with Rick Darke, expound on these themes even further. As an entomologist, Doug provides all the research behind insect-plant-animal interaction and why this is critical for our environment. Then Rick Darke provides the perfect picture and text to illustrate plantings in a landscape.
Groton Garden Club Annual Public Lecture on Creating Garden Habitats - Saturday, February 5 at 2 pm
Come settle in on a cold winter afternoon with a virtual talk of interest. Daphne Minner, Garden Coach, Botanic Educator, and Designer, will engage us with suggestions for creating functional garden habitats with native plants for many species, right in our own yards. These practices can buffer against pollinator declines and create more dynamic, enjoyable gardens for humans. 
The program is free and open to all who register in advance at grotongardenclub.org and a link will be provided. The Groton Commissioners of Trust Funds have made a grant to enable free admission. I am excited to chair this program once again for the club and to introduce the speaker! We offer this topic as a follow-up to 2021’s lecture on the natural control of pesky invasive plants.

Read more about Daphne’s work here:  https://www.garden-habitats.org
Priscilla’s Garden To-Do List for January into February:
  • Take inventory of seed packets on hand and place orders for new varieties
  • Clean, sharpen and repair garden tools
  • Order replacement tools if needed
  • Stock up on Safe Paw ice melt: non-corrosive, chloride-free, and safe for plants, animals, and humans
  • Force some bulbs on water: hyacinth or paperwhites
  • Water house plants only every 4-5 days and withhold fertilizer, as it’s winter rest season
  • Check house plants for pests; if found, spray with a strong blast of water or a weak solution of Safer’s insecticidal soap, or prune infested parts back hard
  • Curl up with a good gardening book (see above)
  • Check out the view from your windows: do you need winter interest anywhere in particular?
  • Attend a garden lecture (see above)
  • Take in a winter farmer’s market near you: https://www.massfarmersmarkets.org/2022-winter-markets
– Priscilla & The PBOG Crew
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