January 2019       Volume 9, No. 1   
A Very Happy New Year to All!

We greeted the New Year this month without lasting snow cover.  The ground remains frozen, however, as nights have been cold since mid November.  This can be a dangerous time for our plants without the protective blanket of snow, so I'm hoping that we will soon get a few inches that will hang around for the next two months.

Our crews finished working later than ever this year, December 13.  We had to sit out the Thanksgiving week snow.  We segued right in to our winter protection day, with salt marsh hay, pine needles, boughs and leaf mulch tucked in place around vulnerable plants.  A few days later, I finally completed my own front knoll cleanup. Note shrub protectors to prevent falling snow damage, driveway markers, a large heather protected with greens, and shredded leaves from the property recycled as mulch on the cottage garden beds to carry these plants through next fall.  Let it snow!

And in the meantime, we are happy to meet with you BEFORE the spring rush to assist with plans for your spring garden.  This is especially important if you are interested in designing a spring planting of any size.  We're interested in getting a few large April plantings on our schedule.  Contact Priscilla  now.
What do Gardeners do in Winter?

Kyle is driving to the Tucson, Arizona area next week, where he will visit his grandmother and explore the rich flora of the desert in winter.  He aims to stay through peak bloom season, so we may not see him again until mid April.

Lee is planning the upcoming CSA season at his Red Eft Farm in Ashby.  Full or partial vegetable and herb shares are available. Check out Lee's on-going updates  on Instagram @ashbyredeftfarm.

Kim is active with her two children in an after school enrichment program called Destination Imagination. This non-for profit organization develops project-based learning programs that blend STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education with the arts and social entrepreneurship. Students all over the world use the creative process to turn their ideas into reality and learn invaluable skills through the process that will be used to help them succeed in school, their careers and beyond.

Priscilla is indulging a revived love of opera by attending nearly all the Live in HD performances from the Metropolitan Opera and took a recent trip to NYC to attend a performance and take a backstage tour.  She is also visiting with her 97-year-old mother weekly in Connecticut to share books and CDs.

Susan enjoys singing with Nashoba Valley Chorale and will be part of their upcoming January concert. Check out for details!

Martha is working this winter at Dover Saddlery and dreaming of more changes to the garden at her Victorian home in Acton.

Tom is working as much as he can, keeping in shape relocating heavy equipment for factories on the move throughout the region.

Roy is busy studying for the ISA Arborist Certification coming up in early February.

More on this next month as additional staff share their activities!
Seed Storage and Viability

One of my favorite January activities is to plan seed starting.  The first step is always to get out my jars of leftover seeds and to compare them to this viability chart.  Then I can plan what to order.  You may find this chart helpful if you have a few odd packets hanging around.  Seed Storage Guide from Johnny's Selected Seeds.

If you haven't already done so, store the seeds in a cool, dry and dark place.  I like to use old glass canning jars with screw-top lids for storage.  They fit nicely on a basement cupboard shelf.  My basement stays at about 45-50 degrees in winter.  If yours is warmer, store the jars in the refrigerator instead.

Now is the perfect time to let me know if there are any special plants that you'd like me to grow from seed this season for your 2019 garden!  Last year we had requests for ornamental peppers and Mexican sunflowers, among other great plants.  Please contact Priscilla

Plant Pick: Plants to Attract Birds in Winter 
When it's dreary outside, why not have a few shrubs and trees visible from your window that will attract birds for a bit of color and motion?  It's also a good idea to attract birds to your property in all seasons to help manage insect populations.  Shelter and food are needed in winter especially.

Here are a few potential shrubs:

Winterberry, Ilex verticillata, requires male and female plants to make red berries.

Robin on Winterberry,
Ilex verticillata

Viburnum nudum
requires two clones (different varieties) to make fruits.

Viburnum nudum

Eastern red cedar, Juniperus virginiana, should be avoided if you have apples, crabapples or hawthornes due to the pass-back-and-forth disease called Cedar apple rust. 
Eastern Bluebird on Juniperus virginiana

In this case, substitute the native Balsam Fir, Abies balsamena.
Thrush in
Abies balsamena

Upcoming Pollinator Talk of Interest  
Sunday, February 10

Each winter, I chair a committee that presents a free horticultural talk in Groton, co-sponsored by  the Groton Garden Club and Nashua River Watershed Association.  This event is free thanks to funding from the Groton Commissioners of Trust Funds.

This year's speaker will be Tom Sullivan, owner/designer at Pollinators Welcome in Turner's Falls.  Tom is a graduate of the Conway School of Landscape Design and carved out an expertise in pollinators and the plants to attract them long before it became a hot topic.  He has much good knowledge to share with us, so please come!

Join us at the Groton Country Club, 94 Lovers Lane, Groton (just off Rt. 119 outside the center of town) at 2 pm.  There is a snow date of Sunday, February 17.  Attendees are welcome to dine before or after the lecture at the adjacent Groton Publick House.

Preregister to reserve your seat and get on the snow date contact list, 978-448-0299, or email
Priscilla's To-Do List for January
-Take a winter walk for exercise and to broaden your perspectives
-Check yourself for ticks after time outdoors if it is above freezing, as ticks will be active in all seasons at 32 degrees
-Start amaryllis and paperwhite bulbs indoors at warm temperatures
-Force hyacinth bulbs on water at cool temperatures (45 degrees ideal)
-Water houseplants infrequently and do not fertilize this month
-Remove dead or discolored leaves from houseplants when seen
-Inventory your collection of seed packets and plan reorders
-Inventory garden tools; sharpen and plan replacements or additions
-Begin planning your spring 2019 garden design

We are looking for a few more wonderful people to add to our staff for 2019. Please spread the word or let us know if you know someone who loves the outdoors and gardening. Contact Kimberly

Priscilla and the PBOG Crew
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