Volume 7, July 2017
Is the drought over?
No sign of drought in Massachusetts
 - only on Nantucket

I checked Drought Monitor to be sure.  Data is in through June 1st.  All of Massachusetts is officially back to Normal or Mostly Normal levels!  However, we are mindful of last summer's extreme drought issues and will be watching water usage carefully.  We recommend conserving wherever possible.

It is still important to water regularly any woody shrub or tree planted or transplanted during the past three years.  I noticed that after a week of hot temperatures and no rain that the three most recently planted shrubs in my garden (Spring 2017) were beginning to wilt last Saturday the 22nd!  Out came the watering cans and a helpful topoff of mulch to help retain moisture.

Please let us know if you need our help with this task during any upcoming vacations you have planned.

Plant Pick: Seven Sons Flower Tree
To keep continuous bloom in your garden can be a challenge when it comes to woody plants. 
Seven Sons tree
Most trees and shrubs flower in the spring and early summer.  One good exception is the  Heptacodium miconioides , or Seven Sons Flower Tree.  Its large panicled white flowers open in late August and carry through September.  These trees are looking promising right now, covered with hundreds of buds.  After bloom, the reddish rose colored calyces are prominent and provide lovely fall color suspended over the garden.  In winter and early spring, the exfoliating bark provides another interesting element.

Seven Sons Flower Tree is a fast grower and is native to China.  I remember transplanting a small specimen about 10 years ago which is now reaching its mature size of 20' tall!  This plant is not fussy about soil but does prefer siting in full sun for best form and flowering.  Another plus - it's a great source of nectar for butterflies in the fall and has no serious insect or disease problems.

Easy Edibles to Sow this Month for Fall Harvest 
Why not try broccoli rabe?
It's definitely not too late to sow seeds or plant veggie starts for fall harvest in the vegetable garden.  Here's what you can do in August:
  • Sow bean seeds this week, and perhaps one more round of summer squash!
  • Peas can be planted, but won't mature before frost - but enjoy pea shoots
  • Transplant lettuce, kale, Asian greens, broccoli raab, broccoli and cauliflower starts by 8/15 and give them shelter under floating row covers if temperatures soar above 80 degrees
  • Sow seeds of beets, carrots, spinach and radishes by 8/15
  • Start seeds of arugula and coriander indoors, then transplant out by 8/31 (these prefer cooler temperatures to germinate and like cool weather to mature)
  • Microgreens of all sorts can be started in containers indoors and set outside to grow for 7-10 days before snipping off tender tops

Start or Add to a Cutting Garden this Fall
Dinner plate dahlia from the Children's Garden at the Coastal Maine 
 Botannical Gardens
I have fielded lots of requests for more flowers for cutting in the past two years.  Right now, there is an abundance of long stemmed plants suitable for the vase.  Here's what I'm cutting right now in my garden:  Shasta daisy, bee balm, Culver's root, balloon flower, feverfew, purple coneflower, orange milkweed, campanula, black eyed Susan.  

I'm tempted by the tall phlox that's just opening, but know that it doesn't hold up well in the vase with other flowers.  It can be cut and used alone in a vase for just a few days before the water turns really terrible!  A dash of baking soda helps, but sometimes I forget that step when arranging.  I think I'll enjoy Phlox 'Franz Schubert', 'Blue Paradise' and 'Old Cellarhole' in the garden this year.

It's also good to think about what to cut in May, June, September and October!  Sweet William has just ended for the year, and before that the foxgloves, delphinium, peonies, irises and columbines.  

Not to forget bulbs:  alliums, hyacinths, daffodils and tulips!  And some annual zinnias,
Phlox 'Franz Schubert' is better 
 to look at in the garden
cosmos, blue salivas, dahlias, and long stemmed marigolds!  Coming up in September will be blossoms of  Japanese anemones, asters, white snakeroot, and goldenrods.  

Flowering shrubs can also be considered as a backdrop or smaller ones interplanted with the flowers:  lilacs, hydrangeas, roses, mock oranges, and on and on.

Fall is the ideal time to make additions to your cutting garden or to set up an area to plant long stemmed flowers.  We will begin transplanting and dividing season in mid September and keep going until the end of October.  Please let me know now if this type of garden appeals to you, and we'll begin planning.

Speaking of Bulbs....
There are all kinds of daffodils
August is the time when I put together our annual order for fall planted bulbs that will bloom next spring.  I pull out all the catalogues and my notes from this spring about who wants what and where to plant them.  Do I have you on my list?  I hope so, but if not, please be in touch!

You may find Spring Display's website helpful for inspiration.

Plant Health Care News: Lacebug Damage Rampant this Summer
Lacebug Damage
Lacebug damage on rhododendron
We are seeing a lot of yellow dots on the leaves of azaleas and rhododendrons.  Flip the leaf over, and you'll find it covered with the tiny eggs of the lacebug.  This piercing and sucking insect quite literally sucks the juice out of the leaves, and the tell-tale yellow dots appear.

What to do?  We recommend one to two sprays (10 days apart) with Neem oil and a Pyrethrin product mixed in the same tank.  This effectively smothers the eggs and stops the damage.  Next year, new growth will cover the disfigured leaves and they will eventually fall off.

Al and Carmine can provide a spot spray for lacebug as soon as noticed, so please be on the lookout and let us know if you spot this damage.

Priscilla's To-Do List for early August
Time to divide the bearded iris
  • Keep on weeding
  • Deadhead annuals and perennials to promote rebloom
  • Watch for pollinators and butterflies in the garden
  • Shear back lavender, hyssop and dianthus after bloom
  • Cut down any browned out perennials to the base
  • Refresh containers with new annuals and herbs 
  • Give annuals and vegetables a pick-me-up dose of fish fertilizer
  • Prune vegetative growth (long canes or stems) of roses and wisteria
  • Finish shrub pruning
  • Prune birch trees as sap isn't running during hot weather
  • Divide and reset bearded iris
  • Plan lawn renovation for later in month
  • Order bulbs for fall planting
  • Collect and save seeds as they turn brown or black
With all of the rain, all of us at Pumpkin Brook are enjoying your gardens this year.  We are anticipating a lot of pruning and dividing in the next few weeks.  If you would like these services and are not on our list, please let me know. 

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