September 2020       Volume 10, No. 8
Hello Everyone,
As we turn the calendar page to September, we hope for rain and cooler temperatures to ease our transition from summer to fall! In this time of water bans, we stand ready to bring the water to you via our spray trucks. Please contact our Plant Health Care Manager, Reese Crotteau,, for an estimate. In the water he dissolves a kelp/seaweed solution called Stress X to help tired plants recover from the ordeal of drought.

September is the time for reassessing the garden and beginning to transplant and divide plants that are overgrown. New locations can be found, and perhaps even sharing some divisions with a friend would be fun. We'll begin this work as soon as more frequent rain returns, with shrub transplanting starting at the end of the month. In the meantime, we're busily finishing summer pruning, also weeding and deadheading like crazy.

And fall is for planting! Cooler temperatures and the return of more frequent rains in September and October mean good establishment of roots.

Please let us know how we can help you keep up with your garden and move it closer to the garden of your dreams. In this issue, we'll look at a few timely seasonal tasks and pleasures.

Plant Pick:  Native Hibiscus

Hibiscus moscheutos
I was thrilled to learn recently that the native rose mallow, Hibiscus moscheutos, is returning to the shores of the Charles River! This plant is reclaiming space once taken by the invasive purple loosestrife. Now that the release of a beetle that eats the loosestrife has been successful in our area, native plants like this can return to their proper niches.

You may also encounter this plant in coastal situations such as along the margins of a salt marsh pond. I even saw a clump at a mailbox at the Rhode Island shore last summer.

You can't miss this plant - it has pink or white flowers up to 6" wide and will be 6 to 7 feet tall, growing in large clumps. Horticulturists have made selections over the years for home gardens, with slightly shorter cultivars like 'Ballet Slippers' and 'Vintage Wine' now in the marketplace.  

To be successful at home with rose mallows, you need good air circulation, full sun, and moist well-drained soil. Sorry, this isn't a drought tolerant plant. The hibiscus sawfly and Japanese beetle can quickly find stressed plants and devour the leaves. We control this problem with an early spray of Neem oil.

Since the hibiscuses bloom in late summer, they emerge late from the ground. I cut the stems high in fall to mark the spot. Allow plenty of space around the plants. And if you canoe or kayak the Charles River in Dedham, Needham or Newton please be on the lookout for the stands of native rose mallow!

Watch out for Snake Worms (aka Jumping Worms)

Snake Worm
Not only are there invasive plants, we also have invasive animals. If you see a group of worms near the soil surface that move quickly and have milky-white bands, they are probably Snake Worms from Korea and Japan. An annual species, they emerge from cocoons and are fully mature by mid-summer. You may also notice that the soil texture where you find the wiggling worms looks like coffee grounds. This quick digestion of soil is quick spreading and degrading, often destroying natural habitats. It is a permanent change to the soil.

The Snake Worms have one generation per year in Massachusetts and are sensitive to cold temperatures. They will die out with frost.

No effective methods of suppression are known for this species. We can only carefully inspect all organic matter products (compost, mulch, and soil) before spreading on garden beds to avoid importing snake worms from one area to another.

Lawn Alternatives Are In

The Boston Globe ran an interesting article entitled "The Argument for Killing Your Lawn." Several of our clients contacted us about this idea, and we decided to reprint the article here.

Deanna Jayne, our designer, stands ready to help you transition part or all of your lawn to alternative plantings. Contact her at <>

Fall Planted Bulb Ordering: You're Just in Time!

Garden of Tulips
Last call for bulbs! We have started our orders, but you can still add your wishes for daffodils, tulips, grape hyacinths and the like until September 15. Please contact Priscilla,, for these last minute orders. We'll be planting bulbs between Columbus Day and Veteran's Day.

The following alert was prepared by staff at the Nashua River Watershed Association (NRWA):

Significant Drought - Level 2, Declared for All of Massachusetts

Low stream flow in Willard Brook in Ashby, MA, photo by Barbara Fox Miles.
Above normal temperatures in July and August, and months of below normal precipitation led Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides to declare all of the state to be in a "Significant Drought- Level 2". NRWA water monitoring staff and volunteers are noting reduced flows in watershed rivers and streams, and are sharing photos of such with the state agencies. The Commonwealth is asking residents to conserve water in all indoor and outdoor endeavors. Local water suppliers have enacted mandatory water bans. Neighboring southern New Hampshire is in a Moderate "D1" drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Near record high temperatures in July - the second highest temperatures recorded for July in Massachusetts - accelerated evapotranspiration, or the evaporation of moisture from trees and plants. This was combined with below-normal snowpack this past winter, which wasn't enough to replenish groundwater supplies. The July and early August lack of rainfall left most areas of the Commonwealth down 1 to 3 inches in precipitation, increasing the risk of fire danger and decreasing crop moisture.

(Left to right): Low water levels in the Nashua River at McPherson Road, photo by Martha Morgan; in the Squannacook River near Elm Circle in Townsend, MA, photo by Rob Templeton; and in the Nissitissit River near Lomar Park in Pepperell, MA, photo by Nan Quintin.

What you can do to help? 

  • Residents are asked to minimize outside water use, such as car washing, pool filling, or washing of patios or decks. Watering should be done with hand-held hoses or watering cans between the hours of 5 pm and 9 am, and only on the days your town permits watering.  
  • Residents are also reminded that brown lawns are dormant - not dead! A brown lawn in mid-summer is a natural phenomenon. Lawns will return to their green splendor when rains begin again.  
  • Residents are asked to reduce indoor water use, by taking shorter showers, running dishwashers and washing machines only with full loads, and turning off water while brushing teeth.
  • Some will say "I have a private well, so I don't have to worry about water bans." Martha Morgan, NRWA Water Programs Director commented, "Think of every well as another straw in the aquifer - your private well might have plentiful water, but watering your lawn may impact your neighbor's drinking water well, or deplete the local streams that fish and other aquatic life depend on for life." Limiting outside water use is one of the most effective ways to reduce impacts to water supplies for drinking, fire protection, and the environment.

Invoice payment by mobile phone: Try Zelle

PBOG has added a new payment option for our clients. If you do banking with a financial institution that offers Zelle or if you are comfortable doing mobile banking on your mobile phone, you can now make payments to PBOG through Zelle. 
1.  For anyone who currently banks with a financial institution offering Zelle, simply access the Zelle tab either through online banking or your mobile app. You can send us a payment by using our email address
2.  If your financial institution does not offer Zelle, but you would like to use your mobile phone to send us a payment, simply download the app: Then go to the heading that says, "Get Started." You can make a payment to us by using our email address associated with the bank account:
Whichever option you choose, be sure to include the invoice number(s) in the section titled: "What's this for? Note to PBOG"
We hope this new option will make bill paying easier for you. 

Priscilla's Garden To-Do List for September

  • Keep up with harvesting vegetables and herbs
  • Pick yourself a bouquet
  • Pull any spent summer crops and sow seeds of spinach, arugula, kale and lettuce for fall harvesting
  • Sow cover crops this month on any bare ground in the vegetable garden
  • Order seed garlic for planting in October
  • Continue to weed and deadhead
  • Keep watering plantings that went in this past spring and any trees or shrubs that have been planted in the past three years
  • Deadleaf daylilies, astilbes, ferns and other perennials that may have dried out in the extreme heat of August
  • Stake tall plants ahead of time to prevent collapse in wind or rainstorms
  • Refresh summer containers with fall color
  • Finish summer pruning of spring blooming woody plants this month
  • Touch up mulch if bare soil emerges after garden renovation work or heavy duty weeding
  • Divide and transplant perennials that bloom in spring or early summer now
  • Cut back perennials going dormant (such as Mayapple, lupine, bleeding heart, jack in the pulpit) but leave orange butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) to turn brown and disappear on its own
  • Finish dividing and planting bearded iris before the end of the month so the plants can root well before winter
We look forward to seeing you soon in the garden,

Priscilla and the PBOG Crew

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