May 2019       Volume 9, No. 4 (?)
Hi Everyone,

We've been out and about for about six weeks now and are happily in the swing of gardening in New England! The rain has been frequent and challenging to manage on a daily basis, but just look at the lushness of the landscape that results from April's showers.  

A Gentle Reminder

Our terms are Net 15 days from the date on your invoice. We offer a grace period of up to 30 days and will be sending reminder notices just before this final due date. After that we will assess a $35 late fee for each month overdue. Thank you for your understanding about this new policy!

Rhododendron sprayed with
Cleaning Up Evergreen Shrubs

What with January turning cold and nearly snowless, many so-called evergreens did not live up to their name! Here's how to handle your Japanese holly, rhododendron and leucothoe.
Sometimes it is best to adopt the "wait and see" attitude instead of pruning out all the burned pieces immediately. Often these plants will push new buds out of their framework of stems just below the browned out leaves. If you prune too hard too early, the plant's structure will be destroyed. Not to say that we don't ever do some shearing back on these plants. We'll plan to topdress the damaged ones with compost and a special organic fertilizer blend for broadleaf evergreens to encourage strong, new green growth.

Signing up for our anti-desiccant spray program in November can help protect these somewhat vulnerable plants against damaging winter conditions.   Might I suggest leaving a layer of leaves on your garden beds next fall, just in case a snowless cold winter happens again?   Don't let someone blow all your beds bare of any kind of mulch or winter protection.   And some of you are experimenting with little pop-up tents that breathe and cover small plants during unpredictable winters.   These are all good strategies to help prevent winter desiccation.

Lots of Garden Tours on the Way!

Three of our client properties will be featured on three upcoming garden tours:

Cooler Concord Sustainable Landscape Fair, May 18

From 1-4 pm, the Cooler Concord group will feature several gardens in town that use sustainable and organic practices. Inspiration abounds! Pick up a map at the landscape fair happening at Concord-Carlisle High School from 10 am - 2 pm and be on your way. More information at

Concord Museum Garden Tour, May 31-June 1

Pumpkin Brook is proud to be a sponsor of the upcoming Concord Museum Garden Tour. This annual event is a herald of summer in our region and showcases many inspirational fine gardens. In 2019, we are busily preparing a special feature at one of our own client gardens for the tour! Purchase your ticket now and join the fun, or stop by the Museum.

Carlisle Garden Tour, June 7-8

Sponsored by the Carlisle Garden Club, six private gardens are open each day. Get advance tickets now,

   Insect Pests of May

Eastern Tent Caterpillar

Eastern Tent Caterpillar  is often destructive to apples, crabapples and cotoneaster - all members of the Rose family.   Reese, our Plant Health Care Manager, is on the lookout for telltale signs of this pest in the landscape and is prepared to spot spray with Bt, Bacillis thuringiensis, a selective insecticide approved for organic programs.  You may see tent-like webbing and loss of leaves near the tips of branches, a sure sign of a caterpillar infestation.   Let  Kim
know and we can arrange for your Plant Health Care visit.

Hydrangea Leaf Tier

Hydrangea Leaf Tier loves to stitch the new leaves of 'Annabelle' hydrangea together and cocoon inside.   We open the leaves and blast the plant with a spray of insecticidal soap to combat this pest.

A complimentary method of control is our soil amending program in the fall.   Insects don't like to dwell in a soil with the Phosphorus levels in balance and are much less numerous!
Welcome Back, Lisa!

Lisa Mattei is back with us this season after a couple of years spent RVing around the country with her family. She has missed gardening and is so happy to be back in your landscapes! Lisa is one of our long-time Crew Supervisors and has a lot of good plant knowledge to share. Thank you, Lisa, for rejoining our crew at this busy time.

Basic Tips for Rose, Hydrangea and Clematis Pruning

It's time to prune summer blooming plants! The roses, hydrangeas and clematis seem to top the list. I'd like to share a few tips:

  • Prune only in dry weather as many diseases are spread through rose foliage
  • Prune above an outward facing bud for best new growth
  • Thin out weak, contorted, crossing or dead canes
  • Pruning hard is good and actually helps the plant rejuvenate!

  • White flowered hydrangeas bloom on new wood, so prune canes hard to a sturdy framework that will support new growth and lots of flowers
  • White flowered oak leaf hydrangeas bloom on old wood, so preserve as many canes to the tips as possible
  • Blue hydrangeas bloom on either old or new wood, depending on the variety, so see the attached list from Proven Winners, that lists all the newer varieties
  • You'll always be safe if you cut the old stems to the 36" height above an outward facing bud
  • Selectively remove old wood, broken stems and excess dried stalks
  • Train clematis to its support early and often, then let it rip!
  • Topdress with compost and scratch in a slow release organic fertilizer as a jump start
Plant Pick - Epigea repens, Trailing Arbutus

Epigaea repens

With the coming of May comes the bloom of a choice native plant:  Trailing Arbutus, or Epigea repens. This 4"-6" high groundcover was once harvested for its evergreen leaves and fragrant, waxy pink or white flowers and sold on city streets. A group of concerned citizens formed the New England Wild Flower Society in 1900 to protect this and other threatened plants! Another common name is Mayflower, and this is the state flower of Massachusetts.

I look for Epigea repens locally in Willard Brook State Park in West Townsend where it occurs in large patches on a rocky outcrop in the light shade of evergreens. It makes a carpet running over the ground and is fragrant indeed!

This plant is cultivated responsibly by one of our favorite perennial growers, so when available, we can procure it for you. The grower reports that two seasons of moisture helps the plant root in, and it will take drought in future seasons.

Priscilla's To-Do List for May
  • Edit:  Divide or transplant overgrown perennials, especially running types like bee balm and rudbeckia that tend to merge with neighboring plants
  • Pinch back tall sprawlers such as Anise hyssop and Aster to control height
  • Put stakes and string or hoops in place early for peonies
  • Prune roses, clematis and hydrangeas
  • Prune remaining cutback shrubs such as smoke tree, beauty berry, and butterfly bush
  • Fertilize roses at pruning time
  • Go after the cool season weeds
  • Set out vegetable seedlings and remember to use organic fertilizer to get them off to a great start, as veggies are heavy feeders
  • Edge beds to keep grass from encroaching on your plantings
  • Plant closely to cover bare soil or mulch such areas promptly
  • Remember to water your new plantings if Mother Nature does not provide 1" per week
  • Deadhead and fertilize bulbs as they end bloom
  • Dig out any non blooming bulbs, or "pups"
  • Make notes for fall bulb ordering and planting
  • Update spring containers as the weather turns warmer
  • Set aside time to enjoy your garden!

We look forward to seeing you on an upcoming garden tour and in your garden,

Priscilla and the PBOG Crew

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