March 2021 — Volume 11, No. 3
Hello Everyone,
This is one of my favorite times of the year. Every day, we can see changes in light, more bird activity, and emerging green shoots and buds. Even the snow on the ground here in Townsend is starting to recede from the woods into my garden areas. Spring will be here on Saturday, March 20! Time to get outside and enjoy the warmer weather.

We’re gearing up for another season of fine gardening and look forward to helping you this year. Our exact start date is still to be determined, as sometimes Ol’ Man Winter returns late in the month or even early in April. In the meantime, please be in touch with your questions and to make plans with us. We will be sure to notify you in advance of our visits and are still observing social distancing and sanitizing protocols as we work.

Please be sure to return your Plant Health Care and Maintenance contracts before April 1, along with our postcard survey. In this issue, we’ll share some of the first garden tasks of the new season and memories of past springs.
PBOG’s Early Spring Work 
We’ll be opening up beds by raking and trimming back browned stalks of perennials. There are many plants that need pruning at this season: Butterfly Bush, Caryopteris, Smoke Tree, Honeysuckle Vines (see article below), Colored Twig Dogwoods, White Hydrangeas, and subshrubs such as Candytuft and Germander, plus woody herbs including Lavender, Winter Savory, and Sage.
Shearing Epimedium
Perennials to shear include anything left standing last fall. Epimedium, Sedum, and other semi-evergreen plants fall into this category. Ornamental grasses of any size get a hard trim, right to the ground. Trim off browned leaves from Hellebores early so that fresh, green growth can follow quickly.
Assessing winter damage is always an important part of spring. This past winter was not as harsh as some have been, so we hope to see less damage in the landscape. However, late-season ice storms or heavy, wet snows may still be in the offing! We prune out winter breakage as soon as we see it. With broadleaf evergreens such as Rhododendron, Boxwood, and Holly, we often wait a month or two to see if the browned out leaves will drop off and re-leaf naturally, rather than cutting deep into the wood too early.

Our crews are continuing with dormant pruning of fruit trees, winterberry, and any overgrown deciduous material. I like to tackle big inkberries that have gone horizontal in the snow by giving them a hard cut and a new compact template to start spring growth. Any holly or yew also responds well to this treatment! We’ll be sure to finish up dormant pruning before leaves emerge around May 1.
Woodland path leaf cleanup
If you’ve decided that you need to move a rose or a shrub, April is the time. This work is much more successfully done early before leaf-out begins. We anticipate that our planting season will begin the second week of the month.

Please contact Kimberly Kuliesis <> to arrange for our help with any of these early spring garden tasks.
Early Season Plant Health Care Routine
Our first spot spraying of the year is right around the corner. We scout for leaf buds cracking on fragrant viburnum, V. carlesii, in early April. This is the moment to spray the new buds with horticultural oil and prevent unsightly damage from feeding larvae of the snowball aphid. Reese, our Plant Health Care Manager, will be making the rounds at the right time if you have this plant in your garden.
Meet Coleman, our new Crew Supervisor
Coleman Wadsworth
We’re so happy to introduce a new supervisor: Coleman Wadsworth. He will be with us four days per week and has lots of fine gardening experience to share. Coleman has great experience with installation and planting projects but also enjoys pruning and ongoing garden maintenance. In his spare time, he enjoys experimenting with fermenting foods, making salsa, and learning computer programming!
Where’s the best place to see spring-blooming bulbs?
Usually, I’m writing about indoor bulb shows in March. This year, the big shows were canceled with the pandemic. So let’s all try something new this year and look for outdoor bulb displays! Check websites as advance timed tickets are often required for entry.

A friend tipped me off that the snowdrops were blooming at Mt. Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, along with the witch hazels. Longing for some color after so much white, grey and black, off I went to explore. I hope you enjoy my photos!
Mt. Auburn was the first garden cemetery in America, followed closely by Laurel Hill in Philadelphia and Greenwood in Brooklyn. It is still a bucolic ramble, especially on the small side paths. Birdwatchers know this place well, too. As of this writing, no timed tickets are required and admission is free.
Winter Aconites
Hillside Snowdrops
'Arnold Promise' Witch Hazel
'Beauty of Apeldoorn' Tulips
Massachusetts Horticultural Society at Elm Bank in Wellesley will be reopening on April 1 and promises that we’ll see spring bulbs poking up there. A formal garden of tulips is a must-see near the Manor House, probably best viewed in mid-to-late April.

At two Trustees of Reservations estates, there will be thousands of blooming bulbs at Naumkeag in Stockbridge from April 22-May 16, and also in Andover at the Stevens-Coolidge Place during the same dates. Reserve tickets:

Tower Hill Botanic Garden has a large hillside covered in daffodils in late April. There will be spring-blooming bulbs scattered throughout the garden beds as well. So be sure to save a day to visit out there in Boylston, again with a timed ticket:
Plant Pick: Native Honeysuckle Vines, Lonicera sempivirens and Lonicera flava
It seems high time that I wrote about a vine! With the lengthening days, native honeysuckle vines are beginning to show buds now. This is the time to prune them back hard, as they bloom on new wood that will be produced this spring and summer. The vines will climb to about 10’ a season or two after planting. Training to a trellis, obelisk or tuteur is critical, just after pruning in earliest spring. Or teach your plant to scramble over a nearby shrub, English style! The plants will bloom heavily until mid-June, and then sporadically until fall.

Lonicera sempivirens varieties include ‘Alabama Crimson,’ which is just what the name says. ‘Major Wheeler’ is a lighter coral color. From Missouri comes yellow honeysuckle, or Lonicera flava. This is a taller plant, up to 20’ in height, with a strong fragrance.
Lonicera sempivirens 'Major Wheeler' in summer
Note that neither honeysuckle is considered invasive like the Japanese honeysuckles, Lonicera japonica. Be sure to read plant labels when selecting new plants at the nursery! All honeysuckles are drought tolerant, can withstand high shade, but perform best in full sun situations.
Honeysuckle Before Pruning
Honeysuckle After Pruning
Virtual Program Worth Watching - April 21 at 7:30 pm
Mark your calendar for Sue Edwards and Joy Yeo’s monthly virtual talk on how each of us can do our own small part to counteract climate change. On April 21, it’s “Cut Your Lawn Down to Size and Grow Biodiversity” with Mark Richardson of Tower Hill Botanic Garden.

Turf lawns aren't planet-friendly. Even in our temperate northeastern US climate, lawns require lots of water, and they often involve fossil fuel-guzzling lawn mowers, pesticides, herbicides, and fossil fuel-based fertilizers.

Join us for this program presented by Mark Richardson, Director of Horticulture at the Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston, MA, to learn why and how you should consider turning some (or all) of your turf into a beautiful, planet-friendly, and bio-diverse patch of native ground covers and plants! Talk followed by audience Q&A.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021, at 7:30 PM ET
Register HERE
Priscilla’s Garden To-Do List for March into April

  • Remove winter greens from containers, once unfrozen
  • Rake out beds, trim brown stalks, assess winter damage and prune out
  • Prune shrubs such as inkberry, holly, yew that may be overgrown
  • Prune butterfly bush, caryopteris, smoke tree, St. Johnswort, and other cutback shrubs
  • Shear ornamental grasses 
  • Shape lavender, sage, germander, thyme and other woody herbs by cutting off at least 1/3 of the old growth
  • Cut back any perennials left standing last fall
  • Edge beds
  • Plan to divide and transplant fall blooming perennials mid April to mid May
  • Continue dormant pruning of fruit trees and other decidious material
  • Plant containers with spring flowers when nights are reliably above freezing
  • Plan for first spraying of horticultural oil on fragrant viburnum, V. carleii, to prevent damage from snowball aphid
  • Return contracts by April 1 for tick and mosquito spraying, antidesiccant and deer repellent and compost tea applications - along with fine garden maintenance!
  • Prune raspberries and blueberries if not done earlier in the winter
  • Sow seeds of salvia and lettuce indoors now but hold off on starting more vegetables until April 10 for basil, tomatoes, eggplants and peppers
  • Houseplants can be fed a diluted fish fertilizer every two weeks for a spring pick-me-up
Here is my memory of past springs: I grew up searching for pussy willow branches to cut by the roadside. My mother and I would walk down our country road to a low, wet area to hunt. I quickly learned to spot the branches loaded with furry grey catkins, and then we would plot our entry. These plants sometimes were growing in deep water, but we always managed to find a few branches at the edge to cut and bring home. Mom taught me that these stems will sprout in water and to keep them dry for longer-lasting spring interest in the vase.

Share your own memory of past springs on our Facebook or Linked-In page!

We look forward to seeing you soon in the garden,

Priscilla and the PBOG Crew
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