May 2022 — Volume 12, No. 4
Dear Friends,

May is such an exciting month in the garden, with unfolding color emerging all around us. From chartreuse new leaves to bright native azaleas and late tulips, there is much to enjoy! And this year, with protracted cool temperatures, spring blossoms are lasting a good long time. Our crews are busy daily tuning up your gardens and helping with the numerous spring chores. Please let us know how we can assist you.
Local Day Trips with a Garden Theme
Stevens-Coolidge House and Gardens
Stevens-Coolidge House and Gardens, 153 Chickering Street, North Andover – Their bulb festival tickets have sold out, but grounds reopen to the public on May 16. Advance reservations are strongly suggested. There should still be plenty of bulbs to see! This Trustees of Reservations property has had a recent expansion including a new Visitor Center, parking lot, and colorful beds of mixed trees, shrubs, bulbs, and perennials to lead you into the restored estate grounds. Info here:
Garden in the Woods, 180 Hemenway Road, Framingham near the Sudbury line – Spring is in full flower here, featuring native plants only. If you wonder what all the fuss about natives means, stop in here for a stroll soon. This is truly a unique spot, full of inspiring ideas for your own garden. Right now, view native azaleas, trilliums, flowering dogwoods, redbuds, and more. No advance ticketing is required, but arrive early to secure parking. Info here:

Pumpkin Brook is proud to be a Sponsor of the Concord Museum Garden Tour on June 3 and 4, now returning to an in-person format in selected Concord gardens! Find out how to order tickets here:
Compost Tea, Our Soil Biology Enhancement Program, begins May 16
Do you feel that some of your plants or garden beds need a boost? Do you have shrubs undergoing rejuvenation pruning? Have you had recent construction and the resulting soil compaction? Or do you have a group of young plants still getting established?

Your levels of soil biology, that microscopic life so critical to plant health, could be low. Sign up for our compost tea program. We brew and apply our own special blend in the spring and fall, with non-brewed summer foods supplied during the hottest months of the year when the microorganisms are actively feeding and expanding their populations.

Over the years, we have truly seen a difference in gardens where compost tea is applied regularly!

To sign up, contact Nancy Altman,
Air Spade Work
PBOG crew member using an air spade on the base of a tree
Air spade being used for radial trenching
Pumpkin Brook owns an air spade and recently used it for radial trenching around a tree growing in compacted soil at the Francis Parker Charter School in Devens. Enjoy this photo of our crew at work and let us know if we can help you with this specialized power tool in the future.

See a video of the air spade in action on our Facebook.
Plant Pick: Bluets or Quaker Ladies (plus a word on Violets)
Close-up of Bluets
Bluets in Pepperell, MA
A small native plant, Houstonia caerulea, also known as Bluets or Quaker Ladies, carpets the ground in many flat, open areas with lean, infertile soil. I snapped these photos in Pepperell in a mowed field at the edge of the woods. Note the moss which serves as a protective medium for bluet seeds. Standing only about 2”-3” tall, bluets colonize an area readily once they find conditions to their liking. Smaller clusters will occur in woodlands due to lower light levels. The plants flower in late spring to early summer and do not tolerate arid heat so go dormant.

To start seeds of Bluets, do it outdoors when fresh seed is available from specialty vendors in late summer. Sow thinly in a well-drained mix of vermiculite, just cover, and sink containers into the ground against a north-facing wall. Cover with glass to keep out rodents. Moisten soil occasionally. Allow one season of growth before transplanting to a permanent location.
Our Project Foreman, Jeff Stevens, supplied this photo of his lawn, which has another type of lawn alternative with self-seeded Violets galore! He mows the area only a few times yearly, and certainly not until the show is over.
Bluets growing in a field in front of an old barn
Field of Violets. Photo by Jeff Stevens
Priscilla’s Garden To-Do List for May:
  • Fertilize cutback shrubs (hydrangeas, butterfly bush, smoke tree, etc) with a slow-release organic fertilizer to jump-start growth and later bloom
  • Stake peonies early
  • Scratch in Pro Holly around broadleaf evergreens that are young or have off-color after winter
  • Fertilize blueberries and raspberries to encourage fruit production
  • Divide fall blooming perennials
  • Transplant perennials before they get too tall to handle easily; if this point has passed, cut them back as they will regenerate quickly
  • Edit spreading perennials that tend to run into other plants, such as bee balm, mountain mint, and coreopsis
  • Edit out non-blooming bulbs and make notes about fall ordering and replanting
  • Plant almost anything now, waiting to plant annuals and heat-loving vegetables after threat of frost abates in mid-month
  • Hold off on planting tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, basil, beans, cucumbers, and squashes until the last week of May or first week of June when night temperatures will be warmer
  • Edge beds to keep grass from creeping in and to create broad, smooth curves
  • Mulch garden beds with a natural mulch (no dyed products, please) to retain moisture and suppress weeds

We look forward to seeing you soon in your garden!
– Priscilla & The PBOG Crew
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