Monthly Archives: May 2019

GARDEN REVOLUTION TALK IN SHARON

If you care about your chickadees, what do these numbers mean: 350 to 570? My environmental and social justice pal Ellen Schoenfeld-Beeks let us know at her “Garden Revolution” talk at the Unitarian Church of Sharon, MA earlier this month. The answer is, 350 to 570 is the number of caterpillars a pair of chickadees needs every day to nuture their chicks from hatching to fledging. That’s just one pair of one kind of bird! Ellen inspired us to think and learn about every plant and practice in our gardens, and whether and how each helps or harms the natural systems that support all living things.

Ellen, who manages the church’s extensive gardens, showed examples of native plants at the church’s gardens and at her own home through the seasons, and how they support or harm our native pollinators, wildlife and local ecosystem at large. She even talked about plants she introduced to her gardens on purpose, only to find out years later that they were actually exotic invasive look-alikes of native plants. For example, she thought she was planting yellow marsh marigolds (Caltha palustris), but they turned out to be fig buttercups (Ranunculus ficaria, or, Ficaria verna), which are on the MA list of plants that are prohibited from sale.

After about three years they had spread like a spring carpet of yellow, in part because they aggressively reproduce by three different mechanisms. Once she realized her error, Ellen  took responsibility and removed them by hand, an intensive but organic gardening practice. It took three seasons to bring their numbers to a manageable level.

Ellen also reminder us that one of the Unitarian Universalist Church’s guiding principles is respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part. She urged us to think carefully and learn about the impact of each of our plantings, as every plant in our landscapes matters, and your landscape supports, or doesn’t, those chickadees who need all those caterpillars every day to raise their young.

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GROW NATIVE MA ANNUAL PLANT SALE – JOIN ME JUNE 1st!

Help Massachusetts communities and wildlife thrive by joining me at the annual Grow Native Massachusetts Plant Sale. You’ll find over 2,000 plants covering 120 varieties, and I (and other experts) can help you make smart selections for the particular conditions of your planting area. Just look for me in a blue volunteer apron from 8-11. Shop early for best selection.

From 9-2:30 at the UMass Waltham Field Station at 240 Beaver Street, Waltham 02452, you may find:

  • Perennials sorted by sun, shade and part-shade, and all types of soil conditions
  • A large selection of evergreen and deciduous ferns
  • Grasses and sedges, both cool and warm season
  • Trees and shrubs at small sizes so you can take home in your car. Native trees and shrubs do the most to increase biodiversity and to enhance the wildlife value of your landscapes.

AND new for this year: sweet goldenrod (Solidago odora), bluestem goldenrod (Solidago caesia) and spotted beebalm (Monarda punctata)—custom grown just for this sale, as these are top native herbaceous plants for supporting the entire life cycles of our butterfly and moth pollinator friends, and a whole lot of bees’, too.

All plants are native to the eastern United States—the majority indigenous to New England

Learn more: https://www.grownativemass.org/programs/plantsale
Download a list of the species available at the 2019 Native Plant Sale

 

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How, When and Why to Stake Your Tall Perennials in Early Spring

How to stake your garden perennials in spring

Supporting tall perennials like peonies, before they get tall, is best done by late April, as shown here in a Cambridge, MA ornamental garden. If you don”t support them on time, their stems may break, dashing their flowers to the ground, especially during heavy rains and windy weather. The constantly-blooming garden was designed by Cheryl Salatino of Dancing Shadows Garden Design.

Got peonies or other perennials that will get tall? Late April is time to protect their structure for season by properly supporting them by staking. Play the audio to learn about how I like to do my staking.

 

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