Volume 6, December 2016
Holiday Greetings to One and All -

We are so grateful for the opportunity to help you in your gardens during 2016.  It was a tough
Happy Holidays!
season - minimal snow cover followed by drought.  Yet there were many moments of beauty as our photo montage this month (see below) will reveal.  We have nearly completed taking inventory and compiling financial statements.  After a bit of winter rest, we'll look forward to seeing you again when the snow melts in early spring!

We are so encouraged to be working with many of you on designs for next year.  It's not too late to get going on renovating a section of your yard.  Please contact Priscilla or   Paul any time this winter - and beat the spring rush.

You may have already tackled some of this month's to-do list, but just in case, I'm going to mention some end-of-season items again.  Contact us if we can be helpful with anything on this list.

Like us on Facebook! Your garden could be there next year.
Plant Pick - Pines
Evergreens are popular this month, so I thought I would feature our native white pine, Pinus strobus, and its relatives.  This is my favorite evergreen for winter containers as it lends a graceful note, draping over the edges.  Needles on this pine appear
in bundles

Eastern White Pine
of 5 and are soft to the touch.  The bounty of pine needles dropping in fall is terrific, and we go out to collect them for mulching woodland gardens, bearded iris, and for use in our winter protection program.  The squirrels and I also enjoy collecting pine cones for different purposes!

One of the things that encouraged me to move to Townsend was the prevalent scent of pine needles in summer.  It seemed like a hint of the north country.  Many of us live surrounded by woods where the tall white pines dominate.  As they mature, this tree can reach 100 feet tall and drops its lower limbs naturally.  There is sometimes a danger of failure if these trees are double or triple trunked or if they grow in soft soil.  White pines are very shallow rooted!  Regular inspection by a certified arborist is recommended if you have one or more white pines in your yard.  They can be carefully pruned to reduce weight and minimize chances of failure.

Your landscape may be more suited to one of the columnar white pine cultivars such as
Vanderwolf's Pyramid
Pinus flexilis 'Vanderwolf's Pyramid.'  Reaching only 20'-35' in height and much narrower in form than the Eastern white pine, this plant also retains its lower limbs and is useful for screening purposes.  It is native to the Rocky Mountains but does well in New England.  The needles have a blue-green cast with a bit of a twist that is very attractive.

Consider also the dwarf selections of Eastern white pines.  Perfect for a rock garden or among low perennials on a slope, 'Sea Urchin,' 'Soft Touch,' or 'Shaggy Dog' can be sited as interesting specimens.  Their growth is very slow and requires only occasional pruning.  We do this work at two points during the year to prevent sticky sap on our pruners and bleeding on the trunks:  95 degree weather in summer or when temperatures drop around 20 degrees in late fall. 
Use of Safe Ice Melt Products Encouraged
Safe Paw would be good for your pet too!
Going along with our organic land care philosophy, we recommend use of an ice melt that does not contain Sodium chloride.  This material can cause mortar used in walkways to degrade over time and provides toxic levels of salt to the plants in adjacent garden beds.  Furthermore, those of us with dogs and cats need to be careful of product ingredients because our pets lick their paws daily after walking outdoors and ingest harmful materials.

One good product on the market that I use regularly to combat black ice is called Safe Paw.  It comes in a large 5 gallon bucket or in smaller shaker-style jugs.  It will melt ice even when temperatures drop a bit below freezing.  I keep one container in my car in case I need to cut a path to my door over ice that formed during my absence.  It really works and is safe for Mister Stripey's paws on our walks.
Take a Winter Walk
PBOG crew enjoying
a stroll at Tower Hill
Our area is full of natural areas suitable for walking, cross country skiing or snowshoeing.  If there are labelled plants on the scene, so much the better!

Some of my favorite places are owned by the Trustees of Reservations,   Massachusetts Audubon or Historic New England.  Your town may also have a town forest, park or natural area that is open in winter.  The Arnold Arboretum in Boston and Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston keep walkways cleared and trails open to the intrepid.  

I encourage you to get out and about this winter for some fresh air and a dose of winter wonderland!
Pumpkin Brook Makes Bulb Donation to Davis School
Thank you from the
Davis School
Pumpkin Brook recently donated Spring bulbs to the students at the Lt. Eleazer Davis Elementary School in Bedford.  One of our client's children is a student there.  We received a lovely thank you card from the children along with some of their original bulb drawings.  You are very welcome, Davis School.  We know that you will be very happy when they open up next Spring.
Last Minute Gift Idea
Remember last summer's water bans?  Wouldn't it be great to have a handy source of water on site for immediate use next summer?  What about planning ahead with a big green rain barrel under the tree!  Other available colors include grey or black.  PBOG can arrange delivery now and set up the system for you in the spring.  We have a formula to calculate how many rain barrels will capture the complete runoff from your roof, or you can choose to just put out one or two. Please contact Priscilla for more information.
Thank You to Our Departing Staff
Tyler Ewen has left us after seven years of dedicated service to pursue his chosen career of manufacturing engineering technology.  Tyler worked his way up from crew member to Organic Lawn Care Manager, Crew Supervisor, and key assistant on installation projects.

Lisa Mattei also put in seven years!  She has sold her house along with most possessions and is touring the country in a mobile home with her husband.  Lisa came from New England Wild Flower Society to start on our crew and then was promoted to Crew Supervisor.

Zach Hagen worked with us the past two seasons on the crew and as a driver.   He is ready to begin his career in cybertechnology after graduating from St. John's University in New York this past spring.

Priscilla's To-Do List for December
  • Drain and bring in hoses to prolong their useful life
  • Clean, sharpen, repair or replace garden tools as needed
  • Install shrub protectors to prevent damage from falling ice and snow
  • Pound in driveway markers to aid plow activity
  • Stock up on ice melt free from Sodium chloride (see story above)
  • Fill bird feeders and hang suet cakes for winter energy
  • Put holiday lights on outdoor grade timers and remember to turn off in January
  • Cover strawberry plants with salt marsh hay for winter protection now that the ground has frozen
  • Provide salt marsh hay or evergreen boughs to cover perennials in exposed areas once the ground is frozen
  • Mound compost around the crowns of tender hybrid tea and Austin roses for winter mulch
  • Cover heaths, heathers and lavender with pine needles and/or evergreen boughs to keep them from desiccating in winter winds
  • Attach 4-5 garlic clips to the tips of each plant the deer might like to eat in winter such as oak leaf hydrangea, witch hazel, spiraea, chamaecyparis, magnolia and azalea
  • Set up netting around larger evergreen shrubs or spray with deer repellent as a deterrent
  • Apply anti-desiccant on a warm sunny day to broadleaf evergreen shrubs to prevent damage from winter desiccation
  • Dormant pruning can be done on berries, grapes and fruit trees - best if temperatures are above 20 degrees
  • Cut evergreens and holly branches for holiday decorations
  • Take a walk to enjoy the beauty of the season (see story above)
  • Force paperwhite and amaryllis bulbs indoors
We wish you and your family a very Happy Holiday Season and look forward to seeing you in the garden again in 2017!

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