Come join us this coming Saturday Oct 7 from 11am to 3pm for our annual Harvest Festival! There will be food, nature crafts, live music and garden tours
12am-1:30pm Live music by the The Princess Poo-Pooly Ukelele Group from 12-1:30
2pm Garden Tours
Food: Chili, hot dogs, corn bread, caramel apples and pumpkin pie
Martha's Vineyard has a long, warm and languorous autumn season that can often drift nearly to Christmas. Planning ahead is a key element to success in the late-season garden. With insightful planning you can time-out the garden to be full and flowery from the high summer season through the first frost and possibly beyond. Some plants are not going to start flowering until Labor Day so space must be allotted for them to perform that late in the growing year. Yeilding space in the middle and back of your borders can provide strong foliage and substance to set-off the earlier flowering annuals and grow into space left vacant by the May-June perennial displays. Take this space into consideration when planning your garden beds. Distribute your late flowering plants evenly through the border and stagger height and depth, allowing space for earlier flowers.
Challenges these late blooming plants are faced with:
- STAKING or HEADING BACK: Perennial mums, Asters, Phlox paniculata and other late-season stalwarts need pinching back before July 4th. It’s important to provide support for some of the tall growing perennials early in the season to allow them to grow into your staking system. Bamboo stakes and jute twine are probably the most straightforward approach but Peony hoops and tomato cages can be very effective as well. Staking may seem a little fussy and early in the season but we are always glad it was done when it comes to these late September weather “events” like Hurricane Josè.
- DROUGHT: Irrigation requires constant monitoring and very often requires supplemental water during long dry spells. Over the course of the gardening year any number of things can happen to disturb a basic irrigation system including plant blockage or punctured lines.
- DEER: Plants may require a regular application of Bobex or other repellent, plant caging or possibly companion planting
- CATEPILLARS (and other pests): Plants may require regular applications of sprays like Safer Soap, Neem Oil or any of the Pyrethrum derivatives.
PLANTS THAT ARE LOOKING FANTASTIC IN THE GARDENS RIGHT NOW
Asters, Mums (the hardy types), Agastashe, Phlox, Japanese Anemone’s, Tricyrtis, late
flowering Hosta, Helianthus, Hibiscus moscheutos, Rudbeckia, Kirengeshoma palmata,
Aconitum (Monkshood) Chelone, Patrinia scabiosifolia, Pycnanthemum (Mountain Mint)
Physostegia (careful, its invasive!), Solidago’s and the ultra-violet flowers of the late to emerge
ground cover, Ceratostigma plumbaginoides
Salvias, Dahlias, Cosmos, Marigolds, Rudbeckia, Tithonia, Arctotis, Petunias, Celosia,
Browallia, Ricinus, Coleus, Ginger… and oh so many more!
Hydrangea p.g. “Tardiva”, some of the Buddleia and Spirea’s (if they had been being dead-
headed through the season), Caryopteris, Lespedeza thunbergii, Crepe Myrtle, Vitex, Abelia x
grandiflora, Clethra, Camellia sasanqua varieties
PLANTS for FOLIAGE:
Fothergilla, Itea japonica, the mop-headed Hydrangea’s, scented Geranium’s, Virginia Creeper
(Parthenocissus quinquefolia), Sumac’s, Witch Hazel’s (Hamamelis and Parrotia)
PLANTS for FRUIT:
Viburnum, Winterberry (Ilex verticillata), Beauty Berry (Callicarpa dichotoma), Roses,
Crabapples, Porcelain Berry (Ampelopsis brevipedunculata “Variegata”)
This list is just a starting point, there are so many more wonderful plants to choose, from the ferns and grasses to the autumn flowering bulbs..For the most part, these should be planted out in the spring so take a look at your garden now and plan where you might need some color or height next year.
We get many questions about our bulk materials at Vineyard Gardens and thought it would be pertinent to bring all the information together in one place.
Good soil is critical to successful gardening. What we see above ground is really only half the picture. If a plant's leaves are turning yellow or if pests are suddenly present you can bet there’s a problem with the soil.
One of the most important ingredients in soil is its organic content. It is the organic content that, in the process of breaking down, enable the roots to access moisture and nutrients. Every year we have to build up the organic content of the soil to keep plants growing and healthy. Once we have added the organic material we need to keep it from drying out and prevent weed seeds from moving in, so we use mulches to protect the investment.
We have two groups of bulk materials; organically rich soil amendments and mulches. The main ingredient in our soil amendments is compost.
Gardener’s Choice is an organic leaf and yard compost. It has been heat treated to render it relatively weed free. It is the best choice for vegetable gardens but it is also ideal for top-dressing flower beds. $65/cu.yd.
Earthlife Compost is a heat treated Bio Solid compost. The heat-treating kills off most of the weed seed. This is a commercially produced material that has been thoroughly checked and approved for sale by our local Board of Health. It is an excellent choice as a soil amendment to bring up the organic content of our poorer Vineyard soils and to lighten heavy clay soil. $60/cu.yd.
Vineyard Gardens Loam is our own leaf and yard debris compost. It is very much like a compost you would make at home so it could have any number of weed seeds in it. It has been turned over several times a year and been thoroughly sifted to remove large sticks and rocks. Its benefits are that it is high in organic content and is relatively inexpensive. $40/cu.yd
Vineyard Gardens Planting Mix is our premium blend. It consists of:
- 3 parts Earthlife Compost
- 2 parts Peat Moss
- 1 part Sand
This product is super versatile and useful. It can be used as an amendment when planting trees and shrubs. It can be used to top-dress gardens that have particularly difficult components, like clay or sand. It can be lightened with perlite to use as a potting mix. $65/cu.yd.
We use our standard Pine Bark Mulch for most gardens, shrub boarders and tree wells. 55/cu.yd.
We also provide Wood Chips which is perfect for suppressing weeds in uncultivated areas like paths, parking spaces, construction areas. It's best not to use wood chips in planted areas because the fibrous material has not broken down yet and in the process of breaking down it burns Nitrogen. Nitrogen is an important nutrient for plants and without it growth will be weak and lacking in chlorophyll turning the leaves yellow. It is useful for suppressing weeds when its freshly put down. $20/cu.yd.
Click on this LINK for a handy calculator to help figure out how much of these materials you’ll need for your project.
It has been a great year for the gardens on Martha's Vineyard. The winter was cold but not wicked. When spring broke, it didn’t swing back around and hit us again late as it sometimes does. We had some heat in the summer but not brutal nor lasting. And here we are with cool autumn conditions right on schedule. All in all, it’s been a year we can almost count as a control measure for future extremes.
Here are some of the plants that have caught our attention over the past year.
“April Remembered” is a hardy Camellia developed and introduced at the University of North Carolina and Camellia Forest Nursery in Chapel Hill, NC. Growing Camellia’s on the Vineyard can be frustrating but when successful, very rewarding. There are many species and selections but most often grown are C. japonica and C. sasanqua. The “April Series” are C. japonica selections that come in a color range from whites to reds to pinks. The plants themselves are reliably hardy outdoors but because they tend to flower in late winter/early spring the flowers are often burnt by freezing temperatures. This doesn’t seem to daunt those who desire their large, formally structured flowers. The plants can become large in time or easily kept trimmed to a neat, tight shrub.
Camellia sasanqua. The flowers on the sasanqua’s tend to be smaller and less formal but are produced in abundance in the late autumn. This works in our favor here on the Island since we tend to have a long, languorous fall season. The sasanqua’s flowers also come in a range of colors from red through pink to white in singles and doubles and have the added advantage of being fragrant. Its not sweet or pungent its more a clean, fresh, woodsy scent that is delightful and unexpected.
Both types are evergreen and somewhat resistant to deer browsing. They prefer a rich, woodsy soil, regular water and some afternoon shade.
The annual or biennial Poppy (Papaver) is a plant we try to encourage people to use in their gardens and get planted in time, so they establish and produce their finest show.
There are so many wonderful varieties, especially the big P. somniferum types like, “Lauren’s Grape” or the classic P. rhoeas, the Legionnaire Poppy. Both can be sown in the ground from seed with mixed results, but we start them early at the nursery to help get them started. The important thing is to get them in the ground early so they have a chance to develop strong roots before the warm temperatures. People often come into the nursery in June/July and marvel at the poppies beauty. Unfortunately, at that point it is really too late to plant them for their flowers but they will produce seed that can begin to establish in the garden for the following year.
Of all the wonderful Clematis, none performs as well for us here on the Island as Clematis “Étoile Violette”.
Clematis present a real challenge to most gardeners not just the novice. There are about 300 different species of Clematis and hundreds more named varieties. They fall generally into three groups based on habitual flowering time; early, mid-season and late. There are large flowered forms and hybrids and small flowered forms. Some are fragrant, most are not. There are evergreen types but most of them are not hardy here in New England.
The easiest to grow and maintain are the late flowering types like our Clematis paniculata that is festooning the Island with its garlands of fragrant white, starry flowers right now.
The large flowered types are the ones most people want to grow but are also the most challenging and culturally persnickety.
The mid-season types are the easiest to manage in the mixed shrub or flower garden. “Étoile Violette” falls sweetly into this group. It is a selection of C. viticella introduced in 1885. Aside from its beautiful form and color, albeit slightly smaller flowered than others, it is its ease of management that makes it worth growing. It flowers on the top third of its new growth so it can be trimmed back in the spring and allowed to scramble to whatever heights you want. The spring cut back has the advantage of delaying the flowering time to well past the end of June.
There are other C. viticella selections like, “Mme. Julia Corrévon” and “Venosa Violacea” all of which are recommended.
CLIENT SCENARIO: Over the winter a client's neighboring property was cleared for construction on a new, two story house, turning the front yard, that had once been a mature oak forest, into a construction job site. The client's reached out to Vineyard Gardens for landscaping help to obtain the same natural privacy that they were once accustomed.
SOLUTION: Vineyard Gardens collaborated with Maciel Land and Tree to bring back the natural privacy barrier. Using their giant 90” diameter tree spade, Maciel Land and Tree transplanted five Vineyard Gardens 20’ Thuja plicata (Western Red Cedar) in that void. This newly planted screening looks like the trees have been there for years.
SCREENING is one of the most requested landscape functions. From the client’s point of view this is a very simple request however from the grower’s perspective it is much more complex.
BUDGET: Everyone needs screening regardless of pay-grade. How much you have to spend directly correlates to the amount of time it will take to achieve your end goal. The bigger the tree, grass or shrub, the more expensive it is and the more work it is to install. Faster growing plants are not an ideal option either. A fast growing plant can be weak wooded, suffering from high winds or winter damage, or the plant could be invasive and outgrow its location. Even very large transplants can take a couple of years to re-set their supporting root systems. The most economical and hardiest solution is to start your screening "vision" with smaller plants that can quickly establish themselves.
ENVIRONMENT: The Island may be small but it is very diverse in terrain and habitats. What would work for a screen in Vineyard Haven will not necessarily work for screening on the north shore in Chilmark. There are many different soils, exposures and pests that can modify your choices. Deer are a big problem up island and poor, sandy soils are a problem in Oak Bluffs. Some areas have clay soils that cause poor drainage that can slowly kill off new plantings. Some have ample available water that can cause problems for plants like Juniper that are adapted to poor, dry soils. It may help to remember that what you see above ground is only half of the plant, what goes on below is perhaps even more important.
TASTE VS. PRACTICALITY: We are often overwhelmed by the number of plants available at the nurseries. It is important to remember that different plants suit different environments. There may be 15 varieties of evergreens available, but, depending on where the plants are going, there may be only 3 or 4 that will thrive in your location. If there is shade, Juniper will languish for years before it dies. If there is full sun and exposure to high winds, Arborvitae will scorch and become irregular. If you have deer, the native American Hollies, Ilex opaca, will be defoliated up to the “browse line” (4’-5’) over one winter, as will Junipers. Therefore, it is important to not only be observant of your growing conditions but to also be flexible in your expectations. If you have a shady spot that you need screening, Hollies may be your best bet. Although, you may have to pair them with an under planting of Clethra or Winterberry, shade tolerant, deer resistant, deciduous shrubs to fill in where the deer will nibble on the lower branches of the Holly. If you are on Island only in the summer, you may have better luck screening with deciduous plants. The Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus ‘Fastigiata’) is a beautiful, fast growing deciduous tree that will give a dense, natural looking screening in just a few years from a small plant. They transplant well as larger plants as well so there’s a solution for every pocketbook. The native Beech (Fagus grandifolia) is another dependable tree for screening. They hold their lower branches and once leafed out they provide effective screening. They can also tend to hold on to their dried fall foliage through the winter extending its screening season.
This has been a week of awakening on Martha's Vineyard. The Cherry and Pear blossoms, the Daffodils, the early Tulips, the Forsythia and the flowering Quince have been drawing all the attention with their showy explosions of floral bounty. On a more subtle note the Elms, the Maples, the Chestnuts and the Lilacs have been offering their pale greens and ruby toned buds, swelling and beginning to burst with tender foliar froth. Oh how this time of year rejuvenates the soul and the senses!
In the Woodland Garden the crane-necked stems of Solomon's Seal extend daily. The Lily of the Valley is starting to set buds signifying “the return of happiness”, in flower language.
Here are some of our favorite plants that are blooming around the island right now.
DOGWOOD: One of the showiest of our spring flowering trees, the Dogwood, has been the victim of a fungal blight called anthracnose that has been causing die off throughout its range. When Dogwoods first open what may be thought of as petals are actually "bracts". The bracts act like the flower’s winter jacket protecting the flower from our harsh winters. Instead of the bracts falling off when the flowers start to swell, they mutate into petaloid structures reminiscent of petals that attract early season pollinators.The issue that is occurring with the North American Dogwood is that the anthracnose causes a circulatory shutdown, killing off the tree branch by branch. Fortunately, there are resistant forms being introduced and available at the Nursery. The best way to prevent the disease is to plant the Dogwood in part day shade and give it additional water in the dry, hot months of summer.
MAGNOLIA SOULANGEANA: This exotic hybrid selection of Magnolia Soulangeana, called “Elizabeth”, has exceptional, luminous yellow flowers. The Magnolia is practically a living fossil. It was one of the first of the Angiosperms (flowering plants) to evolve. Science knows this because of the spirally arranged flower parts and there are fossils to confirm it.
HORNBEAM: Another old-timer on the evolutionary scale is the Hornbeam, Carpinus betulus. The ‘betulus’ of its name indicates that it is similar to a Birch, seemingly in regards to it's flowers. The catkins are characteristic of wind pollinated trees and shrubs that include a wide range of mostly nut-bearing plants. They serve as examples of the evolutional transition from the earliest plants, Gymnosperms (naked seed, or the cone bearing trees like pines) to the later, more highly evolved, Angiosperms (meaning enclosed seed) or fruit bearing plants.
HAZELNUT: Another example of a catkin flowered nut, the Hazelnut, Corylus avellana, “Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick” has its own special decorative character.
REDBUD: Just coming into flower is the decorative beauty Redbud, Cercis canadensis. It will fully play out its flowering cycle before it starts to set its leaves. The leaves are somewhat heart shaped and have a beauty all their own.
This weeping form of Redbud, may be the variety “Lavender Twist”, but there are several named forms with slightly different leaf and flower color.
VIBURNUM: Another early spring beauty is Viburnum x burkwoodii which is from a group of Viburnums called Korean Spice or Snowball Viburnum. Burkwood Viburnum grows quite large, under ideal conditions 10’ x 10’, and has an insanely delicious fragrance in late April-early May.
ABELIA MOSANENSIS: Another fantastic fragrant spring bloomer is Abelia mosanensis. It's a relative of the later flowering Abelia grandiflora that we use a lot here on the Island because of its stately form and glossy, nearly evergreen foliage. Unlike A. grandiflora, this plant can get quite large but its easy to keep trimmed if you cut it back just as its finishing its flowering. The fragrance is one you’ll never forget and would serve well for summer screening being nearly carefree and very fast growing.
JAPANESE SNOWBELL: One of our favorite shrubs, or small tree, is Styrax japonicus, the Japanese Snowbell. A carefree plant that quickly grows 10’-15’. The flowers fully open in May and hang downward from every branch producing a brilliant display. It flowers over a long period and as they drop they are reminiscent of freshly fallen snow. A nice place to plant it is near a path so the branches have the potential to create a canopy where passerby's can appreciate it's glory and slightly sweet/woody scent from the delicate flowers.
JAPANESE TREE LILAC: A plant that is not used nearly enough here on the Vineyard is the Japanese Tree Lilac, Syringa reticulata. It may be over looked in the nursery but it’s far from undistinguished once it gets going. It can become a multi trunked tree up to about 40’ with beautiful, gleaming, polished bark and 12” panicles of fragrant white flowers in the summertime. It's a distant, noble cousin to the common privet and just about as hardy.
The list could go on and on! Here’s to hoping your spring is just as stimulating and fragrant as ours is here on Martha’s Vineyard!
Not every spring is the same, close, but not exactly. If we were to try and define a spring as “typical” it would defy us. So, we take the weather as it comes, that way it never disappoints. This year, so far, its been perfect. We had a relatively mild winter with a few storms, some freezing temperatures and a few sunny days to keep us from getting cabin fever. All this has been good for the spring flora and we’re enjoying every minute of it. We’re seeing clear pinks and reds in the flowers of our Camellias. The Forsythia’s are bursting forth reminding us to apply pre-emergent and fertilizer to our lawns. The Hyacinths are filling the air with their heady fragrance. And the early Azaleas are giving our first strong colors.
AZALEAS: If you would like to branch out from the typical landscape standard “PJM” Azalea another option is the Azalea “Landmark”. Hybridized by Ed and Wayne Mezitt at Weston Nurseries in 1985, it is a cross with parentage including Rh. ‘PJM’ but has a deeper red coloring and shiny, mahogany-colored foliage. “Landmark” is a great plant that’s easy to grow in a wide range of conditions and quickly gets up to around 6’x6’. Easy to prune if it gets bigger than you would like.
TREE PEONY: It always surprises me how early the Tree Peony’s flower. If you haven’t tried them you might want to. They are an easy plant to grow, slowly becoming a fairly substantial shrub with huge single or double flowers opening in May.
HERB and VEGETABLE GARDENS: Year in and year out April is the time to start our Herb and Vegetable gardens. These days it seems more important than ever. In the “Post War” era, after a stretch of real importance in maintaining ‘Victory Gardens’, keeping home vegetable gardens fell somewhat out of fashion. Now though, we are more aware of how important fresh vegetables are to our general health. As more and more produce is becoming available at the grocery stores and our palates become more sophisticated with cooking shows and “farm to table” concepts prevail, there is all the more pressure to ‘grow our own’. Vineyard Gardens has been on the vanguard of the "grow it in your own backyard" movement for decades.
The following pictures illustrate the process of planting seedlings.
Vineyard Gardens offer weekly “Garden Talks” to help customers along on their growing journey. Click here for the list of talks that happen every Saturday, through the gardening season, at 11:00am. Events page link: https://www.vineyardgardens.net/workshops/
This past Saturday was the first "Garden Talk" discussing strategies for starting veggies and herbs from seed and getting the soil prepped and ready for growing. Chris Wiley, owner of VG and a seasoned pro, led the talk. She handed out a helpful diagram specifying when various summer vegetables should be seeded and planted in the garden. Vineyard Gardens' home grown seedlings are available at the nursery, coordinated with planting dates, if you don't get your seeds planted on time.
There’s a wide range of leafy greens that can be planted to give variety and interest to your summer salads.
This is also a good time to be planting perennial vegetables like strawberries, rhubarb and asparagus. So if you’re feeling the urge to get started with your own ‘Victory Garden’ now is the time!
The nip of spring is upon us, the geese are flying north, our garden center on State Road is open and the landscape crews are hard at work on spring clean-up’s. Our greenhouse teams have been busy for weeks sowing seeds and waking up the bulbs we prepared in the fall. Once the season starts there’s no time for resting. As welcome as spring is, the best is yet to come!
This Sunday, April 9th, Vineyard Gardens will be hosting the traditional Palm Sunday Open House from 11am to 2pm. It is an island-wide tradition where all the nursery growers open their garden gates to the public for a welcoming preview of what’s in store for the season. While the nurseries' stock is consistent year to year, fashion and trends have a way of freshening up the palette. There are always new discoveries and ‘perennial’ favorites to stumble upon with an early season visit.
Vineyard Gardens Nursery is stocked with vegetable seedlings, from early season greens to peas. We offer a nice range of plants from the mustard family that need to be started early in order to get established before the warm weather hits. We have a gorgeous assortment of Pansies and Iceland Poppies to add spring color to your window boxes. We also carry a wide array of spring bulbs in pots that can be transplanted into mixed planters, incorporated into gift baskets or centerpieces.
Mark it on your calendars,, Sunday April 9th, a day to celebrate our local Nurseries and the beauty of spring! As an added bonus, there is always a special give-away to give a jump start to your spring garden!
We have been busy in our greenhouse planting and germinating seeds since the end of February and our cool weather vegetables packs are now ready! You can either sow your own seedlings or you can buy our packs to get a head start. We recommend planting our seedlings first and then planting a row of seeds 6-8 inches away as your second batch.
You can start planting your cool weather crops now through the end of May. We have a fabulous selection of cool weather crops including broccoli, cabbage, kale, collards, mustards, Asian greens, Chinese cabbage, tatsoi, bok choy, spinach, lettuce, arugula, micro greens, mesclun greens. asparagus and strawberries. Asparagus and strawberries are best planted early.
EAT LOCAL, GROW IT IN YOUR OWN BACKYARD!
We are GIVING AWAY free legume inoculant with every pea seed packet purchase. The shelling peas and the sugar snap peas are seasonally appropriate to use right now. We will have seedlings for sale in jiffy eight packs if you are not here this early to plant. Newly seeded this week.
Also we have Fedco Wildflower mix. 10 grams for $2.99. Over 20,000 seeds in 10 g and will seed about 100 sq ft.
VINEYARD GARDENS NURSERY
Seed Selections and Gardening Tools
As we prepare for Spring, pouring over seed catalogs and drooling over our friends’ Instagram posts from Colombia to the Mekong Delta, it is a good time to get outside and accomplish some garden tasks that will be put aside once the bulbs begin to break ground. If the prospect of tree climbing and brush hauling is deterring you, remember that Vineyard Gardens’ landscape crew is working year round and available to help. Below are a few of the garden tasks that you could be chipping away at during these mild February days.
PRUNING GRAPE VINES AND FRUIT TREES
Grapes may look a mess this time of year and it may be tempting to simply cut them back, but the process of pruning them is best demonstrated. Like riding a bike, once you’ve done it a few times it gets easier.
- Video on pruning grapes https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GxDNGtoVjS0
- Illustrated guide to pruning grapes http://grapegrowingguide.com/grape-pruning.html
Fruit trees are a bit trickier due to variety, special growth patterns and fruiting strategies but the basic rule of thumb is to open up the inside allowing for good air circulation and access to sunlight. Remove dead or diseased wood and a few of the older branches and crosses. Remove about 1/3rd of the older wood but preserve a balanced structure. A clever short video for inspiration. https://youtu.be/8EmlS_xhpSA
Once the pruning is complete and the weather has warmed up, spray with Dormant, aka Horticultural Oil. This is a non-toxic spray that coats the stems and bark with a mild pesticide that helps control most types of pests that can plague fruit trees and plants in the Rose family.
SHAPING AND REMOVING DEAD WOOD FROM CONIFERS AND EVERGREENS
Evergreens often outgrow their allotted space. They tend to keep their foliage on the sunny side of the plant, leaving the back sparse and leggy. They also tend to hold onto old wood that can harbor mold, mildew and fungus. Thinning out the old dense branching and accumulation of discarded foliage can lighten up the overall structure and make for a healthier plant. Some evergreens have a hard time producing new growth on old, hardened off wood. Hollies and Boxwood are a couple that appreciate being cut back hard, called “hat-racking”.
A short video to help get you started, https://youtu.be/Yag3mZLOZSg
CUTTING BACK ORNAMENTAL GRASSES
A perfect late-winter project! Ornamental grasses hold up well through most of the winter, providing volume, screening and an attractive feature in the winter landscape. Make sure to cut them back in early Spring or you’ll end up cutting off new growth. The grasses do not need to be flush cut, they can be cut at angles or domes, the object is to clear away old canes before new growth begins to emerge. A hedge trimmer or hand pruners can be used.
HEADING BACK LATE SUMMER FLOWERING SHRUBS
Martha's Vineyard homeowners tend to favor late summer flowering shrubs such as Pee Gee Hydrangeas, Bluebeard Caryopteris, St. John’s Wort, Butterfly Bush and Rose of Sharon. These shrubs perform best with a hard cut back before new growth begins to emerge. Be careful not to cut back your common blue type of Hydrangea, Hydrangea macrophylla, because these hold their flowering buds at the tips of last years’ growth. We will be addressing Hydrangea care and pruning in a later post, stay tuned.
Wait to prune lilacs until after they have flowered.
This can be the time to cut out dead, broken and/or diseased wood from roses as well. Most roses will benefit from a hard structural pruning at this time. Be sure to keep your pruners clean and sharp. Carry with you alcohol wipes to clean the blades when moving from one plant to the next. This will help prevent spreading virus and fungal spores. Always keep the area under roses clean from debris and refresh top-dressing every year. This is where pests can deposit eggs and where fungus spores collect. These steps may not eliminate black spot, Japanese beetles or aphids but it will make it easier to keep them under control. Later you can spray with Horticultural oil, as with your fruit trees.
REPAIRING SETTLED STONEWORK
Now would be a good time to reset cobble edging and patio pavers that have settled and become uneven.
- You can get a couple buckets of sand from Keane’s or Goodale’s
- Pull up a section of pavers
- Spread out the sand. A trick when doing this is to spread the sand under the edges of the stone leaving it lower or a little hollow in the center to prevent rocking.
- Reset the stones. The stones can be left slightly higher than grade to allow for settling.
While doing this, observe where you have standing water and erosion problems. These can be corrected by digging a shallow trench towards lower grade and back-filling with pea stone. Plan ahead and fill some pockets at the joints with a sand/compost mix to allow for planting “Stepables” like Thyme or Blue Star Creeper Isotoma fluviatillis when they come available later in the Spring.
CLEANING AND SHARPENING YOUR TOOLS
Be prepared! If you don’t have the equipment to sharpen your pruners, loppers, hedge shears and pruning saw’s you can collect them together and drop them off at the Vineyard Gardens office across from Keane’s to have them sharpened for a modest fee. You should also clean and sharpen your spades and shovels, it will make your garden tasks so much easier and safer. Its good practice to keep a 5gal. bucket with sand mixed with old, used motor oil in it around to clean your tools after using them. This is also a good time to oil the wood stocks of any tools with wooden handles, it will give it a chance to soak in and renew the grain making them stronger and last longer.
CLEARING OUT GUTTERS AND LEAVES COLLECTED AROUND THE FOUNDATION OF THE HOUSE
With all the spring rains you’ll want to be sure that the gutters are running clear, even if you cleared them out after the fall leaf drop. It is best practice to check again. It also gives you a chance to make sure there was no damage during the winter from the weight of ice and snow.
It's generally good to keep debris from accumulating around the foundation of the house as well. This is where rodents and general pests will tend to nest, protected against a nice warm foundation.
Again, if all this seems daunting, do what you can and Vineyard Gardens can take care of the rest. Please call the Vineyard Gardens Landscaping office at (508) 693.8512
Time waits for no one and Spring is just around the corner. The Nursery will open around Palm Sunday, giving you a month to prepare.
Vineyard Gardens Nursery is closed for the season but the office is still open Mon through Friday to help with your winter needs. We offer snowplowing, winter tree work and property caretaking. Please contact our landscaping office at 508-693-8512 if you have any questions or needs.
WINTERBERRIES ARE WONDERFUL FOR HOLIDAY DECORATING AND A GREAT FOOD SOURCE FOR BIRDS
Vineyard Gardens carries a large selection of Winterberry plants and cut Winterberry. Starting this week Christmas Trees, wreaths, roping and cut greens will all be available.
Winterberry plants available at Vineyard Gardens:
- Red cultivars: Winter Red, Maryland Beauty and Berry Heavy
- Dwarf red berried cultivars: Sprite and Berry Poppins
- Other varieties: Winter Gold (an orange berry) and Berry Heavy Gold (Proven Winner variety with large yellow fruit)
- Male cultivars: Jim Dandy, Southern Gentlemen, Mr. Poppins and Apollo
Winterberry Information: This plant is a species of Holly called Ilex Verticillata. It is one of the few “deciduous” Holly species. When it drops its leaves in the fall, the berries stand out beautifully against the winter landscape. There are many red berried cultivars and some yellow and orange berried cultivars. Many get very large. 6-8 ft tall by 10 ft wide but there are some smaller cultivars. Like all Hollies, only the female plants produce berries and a male pollinator is needed nearby. A sunny location will also produce more berries. These Hollies prefer a moist soil and are native to eastern North America. They are often found in wetlands in their native habitat. They are hardier than evergreen Hollies and can be grown as far North as Vermont and even Southeast Canada.