Volume 5, October 2015

Now that Jack Frost has arrived, we are scurrying to get all the fall garden chores done.  Thankfully, we're now having a streak of Indian Summer days just perfect for outdoor work in the garden!  We are planting, transplanting and dividing like mad.

My continued wish is for more frequent rainfall.  Don't put those hoses, watering wands and sprinklers away just yet!  All trees and shrubs planted this year and last should be watered deeply twice weekly until the ground freezes firmly.  Larger size material needs special attention.  Plants that go into winter well hydrated usually suffer much less winter damage.
Planting to Begin at the Paul Revere House
Paul Revere House
We are excited to start work this month on reviving the gardens at the Paul Revere House in Boston's North End.  Here is a little bit of the history from Executive Director Nina Zannieri.

"The current gardens were installed in 1983 based on a detailed plan by noted garden expert Ann Leighton.  The presentation was essentially a sampler of 18th century herbs augmented with appropriate ornamentals (hollyhocks and bulbs) and local fruits (Concord grapevines, Bartlett pear trees and wild strawberries).  However, over time and due to changes in sunlight with growth and removal of neighboring trees, certain plants did not thrive.  Working with Christie Higginbottom, horticulturalist and garden historian from Old Sturbridge Village, we assessed the existing scheme and determined that it would be possible to work towards creating gardens that more closely represent what the Revere family might have had in their large backyard.  Though the family kept no records about their gardens, new research on 18th century urban gardens, some archaeological evidence (seeds and roots) and Paul Revere's known preferences from his Canton property (lilacs, pear trees and tulips) have guided our selections.  The new design allows for a section of kitchen garden beds and a cobble path (based on a cobble walkway uncovered during archaeological excavations in 1983 and 2011).  In fact we have continued to have an archaeologist monitor all excavations to preserve data and also to salvage actual early cobblestones for use in the recreated path.  

Within the overall courtyard design by Kotteritz Land Design, a new scheme for plantings has been laid out by Ms. Higginbottom, who will work with staff on interpretive signs to explain the gardens and also the historic layout of the courtyard.   Pumpkin Brook Organic Gardening will provide garden soil, grow or locate approved varieties of plants and do the final installation of the gardens."

Click here to read the complete story.

Winter Moth Flight Time Nears - Now Is the Time to Put up Tree Bands
Winter Moths Swarming
Winter Moth in Flight
You may have had holes like Swiss cheese in some of your tree leaves this past year.  Or perhaps you saw early spring defoliation of blueberries, roses and other shrubs growing near them.  Sure signs of winter moth damage!

Carmine has ordered boxes of banding material for your prized maple, birch, crabapple, apple and other trees.  Winter moth males will be making their nuptial flights sometime between Halloween and Thanksgiving.  Their emergence depends on temperatures, and they may fly through December into January some years.  You will see clouds of moths flying at twilight.

If you live in Acton and points east, the banding program is appropriate for you.  Those of us just west of this area have not had significant winter moth populations yet, but we are ever watchful!
Plant Pick:  Maples
What would New England be without our beloved maple trees?  It's hard to beat the fall color of a native Sugar Maple:  gold, orange and red all at once.  Sugar maples prefer a site with moist, acid soils that are away from roadsides or driveways that are salted or deiced in winter.  The best color occurs in full sun. The moosewood maple ( Acer pensylvanicum) tree enchanted me while hiking up north years ago.  This understory gem sports soft gold leaves in fall, with the stems turning bright green in winter to continue photosynthesizing - very clever! Then there is the look of a certain small upright Japanese maple called 'Sangokaku' when it turns color and later drops leaves to reveal brilliant coral-colored stems! Japanese maples and the Moosewood Maple like semi-shaded woods with well-drained soil.

Acer saccharum
at Shirley Center's
Historic Cemetery

Acer pensylvanicum
Acer palmatum

New Lawn Still Possible this Fall!
Did you miss the window of opportunity for seeding a new
Straw will keep the lawn seeds
in place till Spring
lawn this fall?  We recommend finishing this work well before October 1 to avoid rapid temperature drops below freezing that may kill the newly emerging grass seedlings.  Also a layer of leaves falling from nearby trees can smother the new lawn quickly.

However, in mid November we can dormant seed a lawn.  It will be too cold by then for the seed to germinate.  We'll put down a layer of straw to keep the seedbed intact for winter.  And the new grass seed will sprout readily in the spring.  We avoid disturbing the soil and weed seed bed in spring this way, too

This method also works well for many perennial wildflowers and small meadow areas, but we'll need to begin with a clean seedbed.

Let Priscilla know if you are interested.
Winter Shrub Protection
Anti-desiccant and Deer Protection spraying will begin in November.  We are making our lists for spray routes now.  The anti-desiccant is a pine sap based solution that protects broadleaf evergreens such as rhododendron, inkberry, holly, boxwood and the like from damaging winter winds.  If you have these plants sited in an area where they capture the late afternoon sun fro m the west, please consider having us spray them with anti-desiccant to cut down on winter browning of leaves.

Our deer repellent spray is a mix of hot pepper, sulfur and garlic that deer really detest.  It's been quite effective on yews, rhododendrons, hollies and azaleas that tend to be chewed during the winter.  We also apply garlic clips to the tips of oak leaf hydrangea canes and witch hazel branches to prevent new buds from being nipped off.

Please contact Carmine or Doris to arrange for these Plant Health Care services now.
Garden Design Possible in Fall and Winter?  Sure!

While the memory of this season's garden successes and failures is still fresh, this is the perfect time for garden design or redesign.  Priscilla is happy to meet with you now to get the process started.  We can talk, plan, and sketch out new possibilities, then finalize the design and budget well before the spring rush begins.  Carmine and Tyler are available to look over hardscape projects now as well.

Winter is a great time to flesh out new ideas together when our schedule is more relaxed.  I hope you are interested in this kind of timetable and look forward to hearing from you!  Just think, you could be our first spring project in late April.
Stone Path
Add a stone path to a well used pathway
Drip Edge
Install a neat steel drip edging close to the house
New Plants
Have a difficult spot where nothing grows?  We can design some lovely alternatives.
Priscilla's To-Do List for Late October/Early November
  • Clean up spent annuals and vegetables immediately after frost to prevent insects overwintering under the debris
  • Dig up dahlia and gladiolus tubers and save in a warm dry place for winter - best to box the dahlias in boxes of sawdust and hang the glads in mesh bags
  • Try some late season greens under row covers for frost protection:  kale, chard, lettuce, tatsoi and the like
  • Cut down perennials in stages as the leaves are frosted, turn
    Dig up dahlia and gladiolus tubers after frost and save
    in a warm dry place
    brown or wither
  • Enjoy the hardy blooms of late asters, chrysanthemums and aconitums
  • Fertilize tree peonies after leaf drop but do not cut them down
  • Plant bulbs in masses or among perennials
  • Finish transplanting and dividing work by November 1
  • Water twice weekly and mulch all recent plantings
  • Keep newly seeded lawns free of leaf build up to allow air and light to reach the young seedlings, using a blower on low speed
  • Dormant seed lawns in mid November under a blanket of straw for early spring germination
  • Leave a layer of leaves on beds for free winter protection of perennials
  • Drain hoses and store for winter once temperatures settle into the low 30s
  • Test and amend soil to promote healthy growth and full flowering next season
  • Dormant pruning of trees and shrubs such as Japanese maples, crab apples, birches, viburnums, forsythia etc. can begin on November 1 after leaf drop
Please let us know how we can help you with your list of fall garden chores and wishes for changes.  I look forward to seeing you one last time before winter sets in.

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