November 2020 | Volume 10, No. 10
Dear Friends,
We’ve had such a warm fall that the sudden low temperatures and late October snowfall were quite a surprise! Knowing New England, we’ll be back and forth with warm breezes and chilly air a few more times this month. So our time in the garden will continue a bit longer. We thank you for the many opportunities to be outside doing the work we love and to share our skills and knowledge.
Photo: Lee Gadway
Our crew is well on track with fall chores: cutting back, dormant pruning, bulb planting, and soil amending. We will be making the rounds to nearly all clients this month for one or more of these activities. Once the ground freezes, we will have another, smaller set of tasks in certain gardens to truly “put the garden to bed” for the winter. And should the weather be mild during the months of December through March, we will be continuing dormant pruning on clear days with temperatures above 20 degrees.
Please remember that we have a small staff working during the winter to plan next season. Deanna Jayne, our Designer, is hard at work already on over a dozen designs for spring 2021 plantings. Want to reimagine and rework a problem spot on your own property? Contact us now:
Special Care for Roses in Fall and Winter
Many questions have come in about pruning roses in fall. I’m not in favor of this action, since we don’t know what kind of winter lies ahead. Canes are often damaged in severe weather, and a cut made now won’t fully heal. There is the potential for further damage. Long, floppy vegetative canes won’t bloom and ideally are cut back during the summer. If this didn’t happen, you can safely cut a few of them now to the base of the plant should they be impeding a walkway or blocking too much light for nearby plants. Otherwise, it’s best to leave the roses alone until early spring pruning near the end of April.

One activity that is always beneficial on dry fall days only is raking up fallen rose leaves. These transmit various fungal diseases and can be removed from garden beds now.

Once the ground freezes (in December or January, most likely), we will be making a route to protect roses that are marginally hardy in our area. This includes hybrid teas and David Austin roses. Please let Kim know if you have these plants in your garden and wish to have our help making compost cones to protect the root zones over winter, <>
The Dilemma of the Burning Bush
Euonymus alatus in front of a house.
I was all set to write an article about alternatives to the Burning Bush (Euonymus alatus), and to highlight why this is an important issue for your own yard. Instead, I found that someone else had already written this article! So, please read on. I was especially interested in Emily DeBolt’s comparison of foliage color on specific native plants to the Burning Bush. If you’ve been keeping your Burning Bush because you like its fall color, check this out.
By the way, this plant is also on the Invasive Species List in Massachusetts and is no longer sold in local nurseries due to its tendency to outcompete native shrub layers in our woodlands and roadside edges.
Winter Container Design is Coming Up Soon!
We will plan on filling your empty urns and window-boxes with winter greens, red berries and colorful dogwood stems in late November. This is perfect timing for the holiday season. Our Decor Coordinator, Laura Semple, will have some fresh new ideas for you, no doubt! All evergreens are treated with an anti-desiccant that is biodegradable yet protective of needles and green leaves so they will not brown out during the winter. Please contact Kim to arrange for this service, <>
Holiday greens and berries.
Plant Health Care News: Time for Deer Repellent and
Anti-desiccant Applications
Mid-November on the calendar means it’s time for Reese and Rick to spray deer repellent and anti-desiccant to protect vulnerable plants from winter damage. If you’ve ever had browning of rhododendrons, boxwoods, hollies, leucothoes, or mountain laurels, you know what I mean by winter damage. This is caused by repeated cold winds or sudden shifts in temperature in March as the soil thaws and refreezes.
Deer populations seem to be increasing in our area. In fall, their digestive enzymes change so that they can eat evergreens, probably the only food readily available. Winter deer browse on evergreens is a constant issue, with some properties requiring two sprays during the winter season. We can also set up temporary deer fencing or apply garlic clips to branch tips as a secondary strategy.
Winter Deer Browse
Nancy Altman in our Business Office is keeping lists of clients who have already prepaid these services and who have had them in the past. If you think you may not be on these lists, please contact Nancy and plan now to head off trouble at the pass by arranging for our spray services,

Our Plant Health Care team will also be pulling soil biology samples early this month as a check on beneficial populations of soil microorganisms.
Priscilla’s Garden To-Do List for November:

  • Finish transplanting and dividing work by the first week of the month
  • Cut back peony and hosta, plants that don’t “die well” and may transmit fungal diseases
  • Leave perennial seed heads if you enjoy bird activity during winter - otherwise cut back now
  • Leave hydrangea, tree peony, foxglove, hellebore, ornamental grasses, tall sedums, roses, perennial herbs, and cutback shrubs (butterfly bush, smoke tree, beautyberry, St. Johnswort)
  • Aim to leave a 1”-2” layer of leaves on garden beds as winter protection, then remove in spring
  • Remove leaves from driveways, walkways and lawns now
  • Fully clean up vegetable gardens to prevent transmittal of fungal diseases and remove potential overwintering spots for insect pests
  • Sow cover crop of winter rye in empty vegetable gardens or mulch with sterilized straw to protect and enrich soil over winter
  • Mulch blown away from newly planted trees, shrubs and perennials should be replaced with a winter mulch layer for complete protection from temperature fluctuations
  • Plant bulbs now until the ground freezes
  • Dormant prune deciduous shrubs and trees once leaves have fallen, now through April, especially Japanese maples, fruit trees and any overgrown material
  • Remove upright suckers from double file viburnums
  • Prune grapevines and blueberries
  • Fall soil amending can be done until the ground freezes, including vegetable gardens, following soil test recommendations
What a lot to do to get ready for winter! We look forward to helping you in your garden before our winter hibernation time sets in,

Priscilla and the PBOG Crew
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Pumpkin Brook Organic Gardening, Inc. 
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