July 2021 — Volume 11, No. 6
Dear Friends,
We hope you’re enjoying your garden on hot summer days and that it is providing a cool respite! In this issue, we’ll explore some of the summer garden tasks coming up in July and offer suggestions for some local day trips. Also, we’ll introduce some of our new PBOG staff members.
Our Main Task in July: Summer Pruning
This article is reprinted from our July 2018 newsletter and is still timely today!

Now is the time for summer pruning of all your spring blooming shrubs or your evergreens that were not pruned in early spring. Once the flowers fade, new growth can arch out in odd ways. If new needles and leaves have "hardened off" on evergreens, meaning thickened up and darkened in color, we can prune with our hand pruners.

We work to restore a naturalistic look to the plants such as azaleas, rhododendrons, lilacs, winterberries, viburnums, weigelas, hollies, boxwoods, and small trees such as crabapples and Japanese maples. One goal is to open up air circulation, creating more space for each branch and leaf to photosynthesize. This practice also helps reduce incidence of disease and pest outbreaks. We remove deadwood, broken and crossing branches when encountered, picturing in our minds the future growth habit of the wood we choose to keep intact.

Our Operations Manager, Kimberly Kuliesis, is happy to schedule a pruning visit. Email at: [email protected]
Plant Pick: Cooling Blue Flowers
Most of us love the color blue and appreciate its cooling effects during the heat of July and August. Blue plants are most effective in dappled light shade, as their color may recede in full sun. The shade factor will also help to prolong bloom.
Image of lacecap hydrangea
Lacecap Hydrangea
Image of Lily of the Nile
Lily of the Nile
Image of Campanula trachelium
Campanula trachelium
Image of Meehania cordata
Meehania cordata
Image of Ageratum houstonianum
Ageratum houstonianum
Image of Salvia ‘Victoria Blue’
Salvia ‘Victoria Blue’
Day Trips to Find Blue Flowers in July
Here are two of my favorite places to visit in summer:

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum’s Courtyard is a cooling vision in blue and white all month. Hydrangeas are especially impressive. If you can’t get enough of blue hydrangeas, be they mophead or lacecap, this is the spot for you.

Advanced ticketing required

A historic garden built to showcase blue flowers was restored in Newport, 2012-14. You can visit this Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. designed garden on Thursdays in summer by pre-paid reservation. Included is a guided tour by Sarah Vance, Landscape Architect and Curator. Slip into another world and make a visit now!

What’s Wrong with my Plant?
Swiss Chard and Spinach - mottled young leaves that curl and wrinkle, then turn tan/yellow.
  • Answer: Beet leaf miner damage
  • Remedy: Remove damaged leaves quickly and do not compost. You can eat any undamaged leaves. Since larvae feed inside the leaves, sprays are not effective. Next year, rotate this crop and cover young seedlings with row covers to exclude the adult fly that lays its eggs early on these leafy crops.
Image of beet leaf miner damage
Beet leaf miner damage
Heliopsis - upper stems covered with large red aphids
  • Answer: Dry soil and lack of air circulation encourage this pest/plant combination. 
  • Remedy: Topdress your plants with compost this fall! Rub stems with paper towel sprayed with Safer’s Insecticidal Soap to remove aphids. Beware of spraying this solution if temperatures are above 80 degrees - you will burn the plant! For longer-term control, plant aromatic companions such as lemon balm, dill, fennel, or yarrow nearby.
Image of red aphids
Red aphids
Basil - powdery grey substance beneath leaves, dark streaks on stems, yellowing leaves
  • Answer: Powdery mildew, usually found on plants purchased at large greenhouses
  • Remedy: Discard plants. Try sowing your own seeds in fresh potting soil, as they germinate quickly in hot weather. Be careful of your watering regime - mulch plants, even potted ones, and do not let water splash up onto leaves. For a complete resource, University of Maryland Extension has this link:  https://extension.umd.edu/resource/downy-mildew-basil
Image of downy mildrew on basil
Downy mildrew on basil
Rose Care After Bloom
Many roses will have a repeat bloom period after the first flush in June. How to encourage this? Here are some tips:

  • Deadhead spent flowers promptly above a leaf with a set of 5 leaflets
  • Remove vegetative canes (long shoots with all leaves) as they appear this month - will not bloom
  • Rake up fallen leaves and petals around the base of each plant to prevent spread of disease
  • Annoint your rose weekly with a liquid organic fertilizer 
  • Keep sprays of water off the plants and water from the base only - drip irrigation is ideal

If you had a touch of Rose Slug Sawfly damage in June (brownish, skeletonized leaves remain now), carefully remove the worst of the leaves and start the weekly fertilizing routine to promote strong new growth. It’s often helpful to remember to do this by picking a specific day of the week.

If we get a spell of really hot weather for several weeks, the roses will stop blooming. Don’t be alarmed - they are taking this rest to survive. It takes energy to bloom! Keep fertilizing, and the rose flowers will return when temperatures cool down in late summer.
Meet Our New Staff
Casey Alekman started with us in April and has been a strong addition to the crew. She’s been working on small plantings and with the daily fine garden maintenance crews. Casey has professional chef experience, and she has long been a home gardener.
Image of Brandon Daniel
Brendan Daniel
Casey Alekman
Brendan Daniel is our PHC Technician, training with Reese, and learning the specifics of compost tea and summer foods applications. He’s also working with our fine garden maintenance crews.
Susan McMahon has worked in garden centers, as a landscape crew member, and as a nurse, so that explains her calm, cool manner when there’s a lot going on! Susan has a lot of good plant knowledge to share with us all.
Image of Susan McMahon
Susan McMahon (with wheelbarrow)
Image of Olivia Lauer
Olivia Lauer
Olivia Lauer is taking a break before beginning her graduate studies in Italian next January at UMass/Amherst. She really enjoys outdoor work and is a wonderful addition to our crew.
Olivia Box has joined us two days per week on the crew. Currently, she is finishing her thesis at the University of Vermont on the impact of the Asian Longhorned Beetle eradication on forests. Olivia grew up gardening with her parents in Groton.

We’ll have a few more people to introduce next month!
Image of Olivia Box
Olivia Box
Priscilla’s Garden To-Do List for July
  • Cut scapes from garlic to promote greater root development, then chop and saute the scapes in your summer cooking
  • Harvest garlic when only 5 green leaves remain on the plant, then set out to cure in a dry space
  • Pick peas, strawberries, rhubarb, raspberries, and blueberries promptly
  • Net blueberries against birds while berries are still green
  • Keep up with weeding in all garden beds
  • Top off mulch as needed in bare spots
  • Cut stems of parsley to the base if beginning to flower 
  • Discard cilantro now as it prefers cool weather (another crop can be planted in the fall)
  • Finish pinching back asters, boltonia, amsonia, and other tall plants before July 4 (after that you may impact fall bloom)
  • Bearded iris can be divided and reset now
  • Deadhead roses and prune out vegetative canes (see article)
  • Deadhead perennials and annuals throughout the garden to promote rebloom and to make space to show off later color
  • Keep watering new plantings that went in since last fall
  • Order garlic bulbs and autumn crocus now for late summer planting, contact Priscilla <[email protected]>
Remember, if we can help you with any summer garden maintenance, please contact Kim Kuliesis <[email protected]>

Our fall schedule for plantings and projects has completely filled. We’re taking bookings for 2022 now and would be happy to explore design ideas with you beginning in late July. Please contact Deanna Jayne <[email protected]>

And in the meantime, we hope to see you soon in the garden,

Priscilla and the PBOG Crew
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