Natureworks Horticultural Services
Natureworks   |  518 Forest Road  |  Northford, CT  06472  |  203-484-2748

Jack Frost was Here!      






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Milkweed Seed Sowing  


We have been getting lots of questions about saving and sowing milkweed seeds. The pods are ripening and splitting open and we are all seeing those familiar fluffy seeds floating through the air.

Don't collect the seed and bring it indoors to save it. Milkweed seeds should be sown NOW, outside, the way that Mother Nature does it. If you want to establish a new patch of milkweed, collect the seeds, toss them on the ground, and step on them. I call it doing the seed stomp dance! You can toss a handful of soil or leaves or mulch on them if you want. Then mark the spot with a label and you're done.

Milkweed seeds need a cold period (technically called stratification) in order to germinate properly. So gather all the seed you can and distribute it in late October and November. They don't call it milk weed for nothing. Believe me, it WILL grow!   

For the Love of Leaves  
The leaves are starting to blanket my back yard. Great! Now I have plenty of free organic matter to use on my raised beds this fall. I LOVE leaves! 
The recent hard freeze has caused many leaves to fall off the trees quite suddenly this year. Leaves are one of our most VALUABLE ORGANIC RESOURCES!

In naturalistic woodland gardens, we simply leave the leaves. They will break down over the winter months, adding valuable nutrients and organic matter to the soil. Plus, they are home to many beneficial insects who live in the leaf litter and dig among the leaves for their food.

When you remove the leaves from your lawn, the easiest thing to do is pile them up and let them slowly decompose. Eventually, they will turn into compost, but slowly. If you want to speed up the process, mow the leaves, collect the leaves and the grass clippings in your bagger, and pile them up together. The nitrogen in the grass clippings and the carbon in the dried leaves help speed up the decomposition process.

I put a layer of leaves on my raised beds once I have finished harvesting. I mulch my garlic bed (garlic is planted now through the end of November) with leaves. I love leaves so much that I ask my neighbor to dump all of his leaves on my property. I feed them into my compost bin all winter as a source of carbon to mix with kitchen scraps. I use them to smother new planting beds, putting cardboard boxes below the leaf layer.

LEAVE THE LEAVES! We LOVE leaves. All gardeners should heed this advice. They are a generous gift from nature that will help feed your soil for years to come.   
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Jack Frost arrived in all his glory over the weekend. What a shocker to wake up Monday morning and find thick frost (it looked like it snowed in my yard!) and SO many plants completely frozen for the season. Usually we have a light frost at this time of year, followed by a deep freeze somewhere around Halloween. Diane said it was 24 degrees out when her kids walked to the bus stop on Monday.  What does this mean to us, as gardeners?

Tender plants and annuals are done. This Saturday Jane will teach you how to dig up and store your dahlias in her workshop I Dig Dahlias. All tender bulbs can be pulled at this point: dahlias, gladiolus, tuberous begonias, caladiums, calla lilies, etc. You will surely know which annuals are done by the black and mushy leaves- tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, impatiens, zinnias, you get the picture. Pull them up and toss them in the compost. Some perennials have had their tops frozen, others are just fine. If the foliage is brown or yellow, cut it down. If it's green and looks good, leave it alone. I cruised the gardens and the benches at Natureworks and found that a LOT of plants still look great: coneflowers, butterfly weed, yarrow, Alliums, Baptisias, Veronicastrum, Vernonia 'Iron Butterfly', Sanguisorba, irises, daylilies, astilbe, Heucheras, Euphorbias, Cimicifugas, late asters and perennial mums are examples. So the party isn't over yet! Most of our shrubs look good too- Caryopteris, Abelias, Viburnums, roses all have great leaves and many have late flowers. Ornamental grasses are the stars of the show right now. Colchicums and saffron crocuses are blooming and winter pansies laughed at the cold. So did the kale, cabbages, escarole, lettuce, rosemary, parsley, and winter savory.

We will have the opportunity to play with all of the flowers, berries, and foliage that are still looking good at the workshop this Saturday morning: Playing with Pumpkins. Every year we do this and people return and bring their friends. It is a blast! This year we are asking you to call in advance and let us know you are coming so we can be sure to have enough materials on hand. See the Calendar of Events below for all of the details.

An important tip: The leaves of our pink and blue Hydrangea macrophylla varieties turned to mush and will be falling off. DON'T prune them!!! Leave them alone until spring.
With Halloween a week away, and good weather in the forecast for the foreseeable future, we can continue our decorating, planting, rearranging, and dividing for a few more weeks. The soil is much warmer than the air (and the air will get up to 70 degrees by Thursday, what a cosmic joke...) Mulch thickly after planting, water with Organic Plant Magic compost tea to jump start the feeder roots, and WiltPruf any evergreen shrubs you put in at this time of year. If you are planning on WiltPrufing your existing broadleaf evergreens for winter protection, be sure to deep soak them and thickly mulch them first. We haven't had a lot of rain and the soil is pretty dry- the WiltPruf is an anti-dessicant spray that seals IN moisture, but the moisture must be in the roots first.

Do you know that Natureworks is open right through December 23rd? We have an amazing holiday shop, complete with locally harvested greenery (a lot of it comes from my yard), all kinds of natural berries, pods, and nature-themed embellishments for wreaths and arrangements. Our ribbon selection is outstanding and we have a very special ornament
Our hand painted Austrian Christmas egg collection is here. 
selection as well. Amber and the retail staff are super busy setting all of this up. The shop is slowly transforming before our eyes. It's really fun to come in each morning and see what's new.

NOW is the perfect time to buy and plant up your amaryllis bulbs. We carry JUMBO bulbs of the highest quality. They take 8-10 weeks from planting until flowering. How many weeks till Christmas, you ask? NINE! So that is exactly why I am urging you to pot up your bulbs now. Also, we completely sold out of Amaryllis bulbs by mid-December last year. Even if you are planning on giving them as gifts or planting them for winter blooms, you should buy the varieties you love now. We have four varieties of paperwhite narcissus in stock as well and we are pre-chilling lots of cool colors of hyacinth bulbs for forcing in jars.

One last thing to consider doing right now is to pot up hardy bulbs for winter forcing. These need a 12-15 week chill period, duplicating nature. We had a great time at the workshop last Saturday and the students left with three pots filled with bulbs and a clear understanding of the process. Imagine your winter windowsills filled with fragrant, blooming flowers that you can then transplant into your garden. Click here to connect to our handout on how to do this and then come in and we will set you up with bulbs, clay pots, and our organic potting soil. Bulbs potted now will be ready for forcing starting in February.

So, onward and upward we go to a new phase of the gardening year. Between planting, rearranging, seeding your lawn, cutting down frosted plants, building compost piles with your leaves, potting up bulbs for forcing, and all the other fall chores, you will most likely be spending some long, lovely hours outside. Enjoy the beautiful weather, soak up all the sunshine you can, and celebrate autumn in Connecticut. Stop in this week to shop our sales and view our constantly transforming store.

I'll see you very soon...

Dormant Seeding your Lawn
Diane's beautiful 100% ORGANIC lawn

I have to tell you, I learn something new about gardening every day. Today, Diane came in and told me that she was having areas of her lawn overseeded this coming Thursday by Safe Lawns of Salem. It is called "dormant seeding". What??? I have actually never heard of this term. She asked her organic lawn buddy Bill Ross, vice president of Safe Lawns of Salem, to explain it for me. This is what he said:

"Dormant seeding, especially when done in conjunction with core aeration and compost topdressing is an excellent method to reinvigorate a lawn that is thin or stressed from the recent fall drought.  Seeding now allows for better seed to soil contact which is the critical factor in a successful germination process.  There is less competition from existing turf growth and other weeds that take hold in the bare areas in the lawn.  The freeze/thaw cycle also helps to create small cracks and voids in the soil surface which allow seed to penetrate resulting in more thorough seed to soil contact.  If you topdress with compost, in addition to better seed to soil contact, you increase soil organic matter while suppressing annual weeds like crabgrass.  Another advantage to late fall seeding is that you have access to sites that may otherwise be wet and muddy during the spring thaw and rains.  It allows you to do a more complete and thorough job. The goal is NOT to germinate the seed now, but in spring as soon as the soil warms up."  

Diane also contacted Hart's Seed Company (the company that provides us with our custom blend) and Eco Lawn and they both concurred that dormant seeding right now is a good idea. Guess what? We have plenty of grass seed, compost, organic fertilizer, shredded stray, and everything you need to make this happen now. The weather is going to be beautiful right into the weekend. Can you imagine heading into next spring with this work already done. Wouldn't you just feel SO GOOD about yourself???

To have Safe Lawns of Salem help you with your lawn projects, call them at 860-859-3100 and find out if they service the town that you live in.
Half Price Sale
on All Outdoor Plants
Starts NOW!
(excludes live Christmas trees and winterberry shrubs)

We have some really nice evergreens still in stock. They will sell really fast, get here soon!

Sale runs through
 November 1st or until the plants are GONE!

Don't delay, get here today

Erich is spreading straw over cover crop seed that he just planted in our gardens.


Perfect for seeding lawns and topdressing veggie gardens.    




Sat urday, October 24th
> Playing with Pumpkins 9:30 - 10:30 am
Free! This is one of the most enjoyed fall events of the season. We supply you with a small sugar pumpkin. You carve it out, add a bit of floral foam, and then take a walk with Nancy through the gardens and pick flowers, seed pods, and foliage. We return to the tent and Nancy will show you how to make a basic flower arrangement! Bring your friends and have a ball. It is our way of saying "thank-you" to our wonderful customers for a great gardening season.
Free, however please call to pre-register, so we have enough supplies.

> I Dig Dahlias & Other Tender Bulbs with Jane Ketterer 11:00 - 11:30 am
Jane is an expert at planting, growing, digging and storing tender bulbs. As the frost arrives, it's time to dig up your dahlias, and other tender bulbs so that they can be dried and prepared for winter storage. Learn all about it from the expert .

Saturday, October 31st
Fall Gardening School: Getting your Garden Ready for the Dormant Season 9:30 - 10:30 am
This is our last official garden walk of the season. Nancy will teach you which plants to cut down and which plants to leave up and why. She will demonstrate hilling up roses, Wilt-Prufing, and many other late fall chores. We will celebrate all of the remaining color in our gardens on this last day of October. 
Visit for  
more information! 
For our  October flyer,  click here .