Tag Archives: Native plants

THE BEAUTIFUL ADAPTATIONS OF NATIVE PLANTS EVENT FEB 7th

Eager to learn more about native plants? Join Grow Native Massachusetts‘ Evenings with Experts this winter! 

This free public lecture series is held at the Cambridge Public Library on the first Wednesday of each month, from February through May from 7:00 — 8:30 pm.

On February 7, Dan Segal, owner of The Plantsmen Nursery, will present The Beautiful Adaptations of Native Plants: Inviting the Wild into our Gardens.

Native plants have evolved a broad array of adaptations in the wild, yielding not only the ornamental features embraced in horticulture but many fascinating mechanisms for survival. Dan will take us beyond ‘pretty’ plant features to explore the origins of these adaptive traits, and the critical importance of regional variation. This insight helps us to select plants that are genuinely suited to our landscapes.  He will also compare and contrast large-scale nursery production that favors the cloning of cultivars, with small-scale nursery propagation that favors seed-grown straight species.  To know and source native plants effectively, understanding their propagation can be just as important as species selection.

As the owner of The Plantsmen Nursery, Dan Segal specializes in native plants, local seed collection, and natural landscaping. Dan has collected and propagated over 1,000 species of native plants in his three decades of work as a nurseryman, giving him great insight into the fascinating variety of adaptations that plants have evolved to survive. His nursery is in Ithaca, NY, where founded the Ithaca Native Plant Symposium in 2009.

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HOW TO DESIGN YOUR GARDEN FOR WINTER INTEREST

Border at The Winter Garden, Bressingham Gardens, Norfolk, UK.

How to design your landscape for winter interest? Here are a few concepts and suggestions. A professional designer can select the best plant materials for your site and especially, your lifestyle.

  • first, consider your outdoor lifestyle and circulation around your property
  • anchor your landscape design with evergreens that contrast one another in shape, size and color (in addition to needled and broadleaf)
  • add deciduous shrubs with striking twig colors
  • add a few grasses and perennials for flavor
  • as always, make sure all your plant selections will thrive in the existing cultural conditions of your particular planting area (sun, soil, water, wind, drainage, etc.).
  • native trees, shrubs, perennials, and grasses often do best in our area, as well as being the best choices for supporting pollinators
Bressingham Gardens' design pop with color in winter.

Designed for color and contrast, Bressingham Gardens pop with vibrancy in winter.

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IS IT TOO LATE TO PLANT…IN THE SNOW?

What am I doing planting in the snow? After a robust season of gardening for others, I’m still catching up with my own home gardening by getting inkberry in the ground before the earth freezes up for good.

Inkberry (Ilex glabra) is a New England native plant that supports pollinators and other wildlife. In the holly family, these particular female Ilex glabra shrubs have nice dark berries that birds love. The red berries? This is a female winterberry, another native shrub in the holly family (Ilex verticillata), especially important to birds migrating in the spring.

Since I’m planting so late here in North Easton, I’ll apply about two gallons of water, delivered in small gulps, then cover the planting area with a thick but fluffy layer of leaves for insulation for the winter. Until the ground freezes, they’ll need about an inch of water every week, so I’ll continue watering as needed.

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WANTED: DEAD NOT ALIVE Invasive Plants Exhibit Wins Educational Excellence Award

Invasive plants exhibit at Sharon Garden Club September Garden Medley

WANTED: DEAD NOT ALIVE received an Educational Excellence award at the Sharon Garden Club’s September Garden Medley on September 9, 2017. The exhibit featured potted exotic invasive plants and illustrated some of the environmental damage they cause. Left to right are Carol Lundeen of Easton and Brenda Minihan and Ellen Schoenfeld-Beeks of Sharon. The trio played roles as invasive plant sheriffs, engaging visitors in conversation and offering invasive plant checklists, images, and ideas for native plant alternatives. Photo by Carol Lundeen.

WANTED: DEAD NOT ALIVE received an Educational Excellence award at the Sharon Garden Club’s September Garden Medley on September 9, 2017. The exhibit featured potted exotic invasive plants and illustrated some of the environmental damage that invasives cause. Carol Lundeen of Easton and Brenda Minihan and Ellen Schoenfeld-Beeks of Sharon played roles as invasive plant sheriffs, engaging visitors in conversation and offering invasive plant checklists, images, and ideas for native plant alternatives.

Exotic invasive plants have no natural predators and diseases that would naturally control their growth. Some invasive plants have escaped from our home gardens and public plantings into natural areas and cause profound environmental and economic damage. Massachusetts has developed a list of problematic plants. Some are even illegal to sell, including Norway maple, Japanese maple, burning bush, all hollow-stemmed honeysuckles, garlic mustard, oriental bittersweet, and Japanese knotweed.

The exhibit also included a “Talking Tree,” a young pin oak tree that posed the question, “When I turn one hundred years old, what do you hope I will say?” Visitors then wrote their answers on a card and tied their card to the tree with yarn. The tree will be planted at the Unitarian Universalist Church in the center of Sharon.

The sheriffs urge folks to learn about the species considered invasive in the area, generate a list of those on your property or in your town, create a plan for eliminating them, and execute your plan. Contact the Sharon Garden Club or Carol Lundeen for further information.

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Native plants + native bees = gardening success

Native bee on native bee balm or Monarda in Sharon, MA

A native bee harvests nectar from native bee balm, or Monarda, in a Sharon, MA perennial and pollinator garden.

My general idea of a successful organic garden is to plant the right native plant in the right place in the right plant and soil community and let nature have its way. Native plants thrive in our native soils, support the local ecosystem by helping our birds and bees thrive.

Just today in my backyard I observed a wren arriving at its birdhouse with a caterpillar and heard the choir of baby wrens competing with open mouths for that nutritious meal.

Think about it. Everything we eat was once a plant, and without insects such as caterpillars and bees, we’d have no plants and no food. So plant a native next time, and you’ll be doing yourself and your neighboring ecosystem a big favor.

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TOP 5 GARDENING TIPS FOR APRIL

Do not work on your lawn or garden just after a big rain.

A note from a friendly frittilary butterfly: stepping in your garden or working on your lawn when the soil is wet damages your plants’ ability to thrive. (Image 2017 Carol Lundeen. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED)

#1. CAUTION: WET SOIL – DO NOT ENTER YOUR GARDEN – OR WORK ON YOUR LAWN!

  • Our recent rains have left our soils saturated, and if you step into your shrub and garden beds now you’ll be causing mostly invisible but meaningful damage that makes it harder for your plants to thrive.
  • Compacting your soil: plant roots depend on the spaces between soil particles to hold water and oxygen. When you step on wet soil, you compact these spaces and your plants suffer.
  • One cup of soil may hold as many bacteria as there are people on Earth, never mind the fungi, protozoa, nematodes, arthropods, and earthworms – most of which are beneficial to you most of the time. Together, these tiny beings are a living system called the Soil Food Web, and it’s best to not to step on them when the soil is wet.
  • To test if your soil is dry enough, take a handful of soil and squeeze it. If the soil crumbles easily when you open your hand, it is ready to be walked on or tilled. If it does not crumble, it is too wet. Allow the soil to dry for a few more days and test again before digging.

#2. GET YOUR SOIL TESTED – BEFORE YOU PLANT!

  • Before planting is a good time to get a Routine Soil Analysis from the UMass Soil and Plant Nutrient Testing Lab to check pH and fertility. This economical soil test will provide recommendations for liming and fertilizing as needed, as well as indicating the lead level in the soil.

#3. START YOUR COOL-SEASON VEGETABLES – ONCE THE SOIL DRAINS!

  • Now is a good time to sow seeds of cool season crops such as peas, lettuce, chard, kale, arugula, spinach, carrot, radish, beet and turnips.
  • Plant the seeds as soon as the ground can be worked. Sow your spinach, beets, radish, carrots and lettuce thickly in rows and thin later to the desired spacing (read the label) and to allow them to develop properly. Root crops such as carrots, beets, and radishes should be thinned to a 2-inch spacing to allow the roots to develop properly. They can be thinned as soon as they reach small edible size.

#4. EAGER TO JUMP START YOUR LAWN?

  • Your doctor wouldn’t give you a treatment without first making a diagnosis, right? Same goes with your lawn. Why treat your lawn for grubs or other turf insects if you don’t first discover what’s causing a problem? Grub populations are easy to evaluate, as are other sub-surface and surface insects. Once you diagnose properly, you can treat with a reasonable solution rather than automatically throwing money and chemicals at the situation.
  • Start weaning your lawn off the expensive, stepped conventional petrochemical-based fertilizers by switching to a slow release, low-nitrogen organic fertilizer like Roots Fresh Start. Apply once in early spring after the soil has begun to warm up and apply again in early fall. The water-insoluble nutrients will be recycled and released by your friendly soil microbes slowly over the entire growing season as they’re needed by your turf, rather than getting flushed (along with your money) away with rain and any irrigation.
  • Doing a lawn renovation this year? Wait until September for best results and return on your investment.

#5. MONITOR FOR WINTER MOTH CATERPILLARS

  • Winter moth caterpillars cause damage to many different deciduous plants such as oaks, maples, cherries, ash, crabapples, apples and blueberries. their eggs typically hatch early-mid April, and the young larvae quickly start feeding on flower buds, leaf buds and young developing leaves.
  • Winter moth egg hatch has not yet been observed for this growing season as of 4/5/17 in Massachusetts. Scouts are still reporting that winter moth eggs are orange in color and have not yet turned the blue color that indicates hatch is imminent. Eggs can be sprayed with dormant oil before they hatch, but the eggs can hide under pieces of bark and be hard to reach with spray.
  • Once the caterpillars hatch, they’re eager to eat their host plants. Dormant oil will no longer work, but there’s a fairly safe treatment that simply takes their appetite away. It’s a kind of bacteria called bacillus thuringiensis var. Kurstaki. In some forms it’s approved for use on organic farms. Always read and follow the label.

(BONUS #6.) CELEBRATE ARBOR DAY BY PLANTING A TREE ON APRIL 28 

  • Arbor Day is an annual observance that celebrates the role of trees in our lives and promotes tree planting and care. The best tree selection may be a native tree that is well suited to thrive in your yard with your existing soil, sun, water, and other cultural conditions. Have your soil tested before investing in your new tree or shrub.

AS ALWAYS,PLEASE FEEL FREE TO CONTACT ME IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS OR NEED A HAND! 

EMAIL CAROL  OR CALL 617-327-9254

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Best plants for honey bees include anise hyssop, rosemary, poppy, bee balm, catmint, coneflower, borage, and thyme.

Sharon Garden Club Hosts Beekeeper Barbara MacPhee’s “Gardens for Honeybees”

Best plants for honey bees include anise hyssop, rosemary, poppy, bee balm, catmint, coneflower, borage, and thyme.

Plant These For Bees, a display at the Sharon Garden Club by guest speaker and beekeeper Barbara MacPhee. Suggested flowers for pollinators include anise hyssop, rosemary, poppy, bee balm, catmint, coneflower, borage, and thyme. [Photo by Dixie Buckland]

Beekeeper Barbara MacPhee

Sharon Garden Club presenter and beekeeper Barbara MacPhee.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fun honey bee facts from Sharon Garden Club presenter and beekeeper Barbara MacPhee, at our February meeting:

  • Among honey bees, it’s the worker bees (who are all females) that you see (and hear) collecting nectar and pollen. The males, called drones, maintain the hives.
  • It takes 1,152 honey bees flying a distance of 112,000 miles, harvesting from 4.5 million flowers, to produce one pound of honey. Now that is impressive, ladies!
  • In early spring, bees need early-flowering plants like snowdrops, Claytonia and dandelions to support their hives. Forsythia, while a traditional feel-good sign of spring for humans, has zero pollen and zero nectar. Consider replacing one with a pollinator-friendly native shrub like redbud or viburnum.
  • Later in the season, agastache, clover (yes, in your lawn!) and borage, plus winterberry and American holly, are some of the other plants that honey bees favor.

And my two cents: Think about it: just about everything you and I eat was once a plant, most likely a flowering plant. No pollinators, no food. Are you hungry to support pollinators now?

Visit the Sharon Garden Club online

 

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How to Keep Your Garden Plants Alive in Winter in a Drought

MA drought map showing more than one third of the state in extreme drought condition

MA drought map updated December 13, 2016.  The area in red, about one third of the state, is in an Extreme Drought condition.

What do you do keep your drought-stressed plants alive this winter?  It’s hard to put a Band-Aid on drought-stressed plants, but here are some things you can do:

  • KEEP WATERING UNTIL THE GROUND FREEZES IN THE FALL/EARLY WINTER.  Check with your city or town to see if even now, in late December, there’s a current watering ban.  Especially with new plantings, and also with drought-stressed ones, you generally want to give them the equivalent of one inch of water per week all the way until the ground freezes.  If time or water is limited, focus on watering your most valuable plants, such as trees and shrubs.
  • IMPROVE YOUR SOIL.  On your lawn for instance, just 1/4 inch of compost every fall makes a huge difference in the resilience of your turf plants.  For your planting beds, pull back the mulch, spread 1/2 inch of compost or leaf mold,  scratch it into the soil surface, and put the mulch back in place.  This will increase the soil’s ability to hold moisture and make nutrients more available to the roots of your plants.  Think in terms of feeding your soil (the soil food web), not feeding your plants.
  • MULCH.  It’s not to late to apply 2-3 inches of mulch to all areas of exposed soil.  Do not let mulch come in contact with the trunks of your trees and shrubs, where it transitions into the root.  This area is called the root flare and should never be covered.  If you see a mulch volcano around the base of a tree, the mulch is suffocating the tree, which stresses it, makes it vulnerable to pests and pathogens, and puts the tree on a path of decline.  About the best mulch of all is fallen leaves that you’ve chopped up with your lawn mower and spread on your beds.  Speaking of chopped leaves, you can also pile them up, adding water to create a water film on most of the leaf surface area, and let them sit for a year or two.  The result, called leaf mold, is another source of organic matter that will make your plants sing.
  • PLANT NATIVES.  Many people picture native plants as being weedy and leggy.  In fact, native plants are best adapted to not only survive, but thrive in the existing environmental conditions.  Test your soil and know how much sun your planting site gets.  Then, it’s easy to select plants that should do quite well with minimum inputs, once established.

For more info about the drought status in MA, visit http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/Home/StateDroughtMonitor.aspx?MA

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Reclaim the perimeter of your yard

Carol removes a stump after clearing the perimeter of a client's

Carol removes a stump after clearing a tangle of exotic invasive plants on the sloped perimeter of a client’s lawn in Sharon, MA.

Trees and shrubs, vines and weeds getting the best of the perimeter of your yard?  Reclaim it!  That’s what I did for a client in Sharon, MA, They were getting ready to sell their house, and I wanted to leverage their back yard with an expansive view to a trio of established but hidden ash trees on the edge of the property.  So I cut down a few small trees and hacked out their roots, removed lots of exotic invasive plants like multi flora rose, Asian bittersweet and garlic mustard…though the knot weed is still a work in progress.

Carol with a tree stump she removed for curb appeal in Sharon, MA.

Carol didn’t let this stump stump her. Her reciprocating saw and pry bar and patience did the trick. She did this to open the view to the large trees in the background.  It’s hard to see, but behind the iris is a native Viburnum shrub that had been hidden by overgrowth.

 

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Join me at Sharon Green Day May 7th 12-4 pm

Enjoy a free, fun-filled, family oriented afternoon, and discover how you can make a difference for the next generation!

Pollinator garden favorite black eyed Susan

Black eyed Susan, Rudbeckia fulgida, is an excellent native pollinator and butterfly garden plant.

If you want to support pollinators, come find my table at the Sustainable Sharon Coalition’s Green Day on May 7th from 12-4 on High Street, Sharon Center, between the Sharon Public Library & Congregational Church.  I’ll be selling perennials with high horticulture and pollinator value, and Rudbeckia fulgida v fulgida will be the star of the show.
(In case of inclement weather, the event will be held inside the Congregational Church Parish Hall.)

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