close up view of a tick

Mosquitoes and Ticks

Over 15” of rain in July alone has meant an explosion in the tick and mosquito population! Please be sure to turn over empty buckets, wheelbarrows, and the like in your yard to cut down on areas for water to collect and create mosquito breeding grounds. Empty and clean birdbaths frequently, too, then refill for the birds. It’s…

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a deer grazing on dandelions

Deer

  There are more deer per square mile than ever before in our area. This season, they have even sampled a few native plants at my back stoop! Garlic clips attached to a bamboo stake stopped this invasion, and the native Rubus odoratus (Flowering raspberry) and Porteranthus tridentata (Bowman’s root) have sprouted new growth, albeit shorter than usual.   This reminds…

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closeup view of a monarch butterfly, title: Good News!

Update on Funding for Healthy Soils, Glyphosate Study & the End of Roundup Sales – News from NOFA/Mass

As a Board member of the Massachusetts Chapter of the Northeast Organic Farming Association, Priscilla was active in early 2020 promoting the passage of the Healthy Soils bill at the State House. We recently received news about the funding of this bill, and concurrently, news about state funding for a study of the impacts of…

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pale pink rose with buds

Rose Care After Bloom

Many roses will have a repeat bloom period after the first flush in June. How to encourage this? Here are some tips: Deadhead spent flowers promptly above a leaf with a set of 5 leaflets Remove vegetative canes (long shoots with all leaves) as they appear this month – will not bloom Rake up fallen leaves and…

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beet leaf miner damage on swiss chard

What’s Wrong with my Plant?

Swiss Chard and Spinach – mottled young leaves that curl and wrinkle, then turn tan/yellow. Answer: Beet leaf miner damage Remedy: Remove damaged leaves quickly and do not compost. You can eat any undamaged leaves. Since larvae feed inside the leaves, sprays are not effective. Next year, rotate this crop and cover young seedlings with row covers to exclude the…

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salvia victoria blue

Day Trips to Find Blue Flowers in July

Here are two of my favorite places to visit in summer: The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum’s Courtyard is a cooling vision in blue and white all month. Hydrangeas are especially impressive. If you can’t get enough of blue hydrangeas, be they mophead or lacecap, this is the spot for you. https://www.gardnermuseum.org/experience/courtyard/summer-blues Advanced ticketing required A historic garden…

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Image of Pink Tulips

Bulb Care in Late Spring

The heat and dry period put a fast end to the bulb show in late May. Now what? Let your bulb foliage “ripen” or dry out in the summer heat, then remove it when it turns brown. This is how the bulbs photosynthesize and build up energy for next spring’s bloom. We have been scratching in bulb…

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Image of Kousa dogwood close-up on flowers

Plant Pick: Cornus kousa, the Kousa dogwood

This Asian dogwood comes into bloom in early June. It is resistant to many pests and diseases, including the anthracnose virus that has impacted our native white and pink dogwood trees. The bark of its trunk features exfoliated patches that provide year-round interest. Heart-shaped, dark green leaves are tough enough to withstand the summer heat. There are many…

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Image of spouting Japanese Knotweed in Spring

Natural Control of Japanese Knotweed

Sometimes nature comes a little too close when there is disturbed ground. One of the common invaders is Japanese knotweed. This shrubby plant in the knotweed or buckwheat family was imported in the late 1800s as an ornamental curiosity and became a rampant escapee in our area. You may have seen it lining roadsides or stream banks. It spreads…

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Backyard Blowout Plant Sale – Saturday, May 8th, 8 am – 12 pm Priscilla’s Nursery, 35 Turner Road, Townsend

This year we made the decision to fold our nursery growing operations. I will be moving in late 2022 to Hager Homestead, a new senior cohousing community that will be built in Littleton. We’re left with odds and ends of 20 years in business: selected shrubs and many perennials. Please peruse the list on the Plant Order…

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Priscilla’s Garden To-Do List for Late April/Early May

Finish planting bareroot stock such as roses, raspberries, asparagus, and fruit trees Keep transplanting and dividing late summer and fall-blooming perennials Plant containers with frost-resistant varieties Plant trees, shrubs, and perennials Finish pruning and fertilizing roses Prune hydrangeas and scratch in an acid-loving fertilizer to promote bloom Topdress winter damaged broad-leaved evergreens with compost and…

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Virtual Program Worth Watching – April 21 at 7:30 pm

Turf lawns aren’t planet-friendly. Even in our temperate northeastern US climate, lawns require lots of water, and they often involve fossil fuel-guzzling lawn mowers, pesticides, herbicides, and fossil fuel-based fertilizers. Join us for this program presented by Mark Richardson, Director of Horticulture at the Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston, MA, to learn why and…

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Plant Pick – Carex pensylvanica, Pennsylvania sedge

This native grass quite literally jumps out of the snow with bright green, hairlike foliage. It makes a great lawn substitute, gradually spreading and filling in from small potted plants. Or use it as an accent among other low native flowering plants such as American ginger, American pachysandra, or Meehan’s mint. In earliest spring, we quickly shear back…

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Focus on Compost Tea – What is it and why you should have it

We began our compost tea program back in 2007. At that time, the study of soil microorganisms (or soil biology) was just becoming mainstream through the work of Dr. Elaine Ingham. She found that almost any soil can have its biology boosted through the addition of an actively aerated compost tea. Compromised soils, especially with compaction following construction,…

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Visit “Yarnstorm” Show at Tower Hill until March 31

Looking for something different to do outdoors while still getting in a walk? Tower Hill Botanic Garden has opened a new winter display featuring creative use of colorful knitted or crocheted artworks on woody plants and garden structures. This is called Yarnbombing or Yarnstorming. Timed tickets are required for entry, with admission to this outdoor show included…

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Skilled arborist pruning a crabapple tree

But wait – There’s still work to be done this winter!

Dormant pruning will be ongoing this winter as weather permits with a select PBOG crew. We have several orchards on our list, along with Kousa dogwood trees, forsythia hedges, and other deciduous material. It is easiest to see a plant’s structure when its leaves have dropped. Also it’s the traditional time to prune fruit trees during cool temperatures…

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Plant Health Care News: Time for Deer Repellent and Anti-desiccant Applications

Mid-November on the calendar means it’s time for Reese and Rick to spray deer repellent and anti-desiccant to protect vulnerable plants from winter damage. If you’ve ever had browning of rhododendrons, boxwoods, hollies, leucothoes, or mountain laurels, you know what I mean by winter damage. This is caused by repeated cold winds or sudden shifts in temperature…

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Staff Update

Rick Burnett has joined the Plant Health Care Department as PHC Technician and resigned from his role as Field Manager. You may meet Rick doing a spray route. Kimberly Kuliesis has resumed full responsibility for scheduling and also develops estimates and proposals. Please contact her with your special requests at <kimberly@pumpkinbrookorganicgardening.com> Meanwhile, Priscilla will continue…

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Significant Drought – Level 2, Declared for All of Massachusetts

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

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Fall Planting Time is Not Far Off! Make Plans Now

We’ve already assembled a list of gardens ready for fall planting or some renovation. But it’s not too late to schedule a consultation for your own garden. Now is the ideal time to assess the situation and design plans for improvement. Please contact Kimberly, kimberlykuliesis@pumpkinbrookorganicgardening.com, or our Designer, Deanna Jayne, deanna@pumpkinbrookorganicgardening.com, for your appointment.   Fall Planting…

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Plant Pick: Combinations to cover spring perennials that go summer dormant

What to do when your beautiful spring garden suddenly has a large empty space in August? Here are some perennial pairings that I’ve discovered over the years to hide declining foliage and gaps in the border. Lupinus perennis and Lobelia siphilitica Let the native lupine foliage “ripen” like bulb foliage in order to photosynthesize. The lupines will…

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Black Knot – The Fungus Demystified

At this time of year with leaves off the trees, we often see black masses or galls attached to outer twigs of plum and cherry trees in the genus Prunus. Both ornamental and edible varieties are susceptible to this fungus, along with the native chokecherry. Sometimes apricot and peach trees are impacted. This disease produces rough,…

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Priscilla’s Garden To-Do List for Late April/Early May

Priscilla’s Garden To-Do List for Late April/Early May:   Continue to clean up garden beds by raking, cutting back perennials and ornamental grasses Finish dormant pruning by May 1 when leaf-out is expected Cut back butterfly bush, smoke tree, caryopteris, beautyberry and other cutback shrubs Prepare vegetable garden beds Sow seeds of peas, spinach, kale,…

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Now is the Time to Renovate Your Forsythia (and Why)

When Forsythia gets overgrown, it’s really overgrown! We like to renovate Forsythia before it comes into bloom. It’s very easy to see parallel stems and pick the best ones to cut all the way to the ground. Crossing branches and deadwood are readily spotted, too. This thinning action helps keep your plant looking natural yet under control. Do this…

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Bulb and Flower Shows on the Horizon

Here’s the chronological list of places to see indoor plant displays, lots of color AND gain ideas for your own garden this season: Lyman Estate Greenhouses, Waltham, Camellia show begins February 18, historicnewengland.org Connecticut Flower and Garden Show, February 20-23, ctflowershow.com Smith College Bulb Show, March 7-22, garden.smith.edu Mt. Holyoke Bulb Show, March 7-22, mtholyoke.edu Boston Flower and Garden…

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Plant Pick: Bleeding Hearts

Speaking of native plants, our Plant Pick this month is Dicentra eximia, fringed bleeding heart. This early spring bloomer will pop out of the ground shortly after the snow melts with soft green basal leaves. Flower stems will quickly follow. Preferring dry shade with a soil rich in organic matter, this plant is an easy naturalizer.…

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Field Trip: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

I highly recommend a winter visit to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. The Courtyard is always a horticultural wonder, with forced seasonal tropical plants in bloom among ancient statuary and antiquities. Even a short moment lingering at the edge of the area transports you to another world. Plan your visit here: www.gardnermuseum.org The Isabella Stewart Gardner…

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Update on Winter Staff Training

Kim, Deanna, Erica and Rick attended the four-day Northeast Organic Farming Association’s Organic Land Care Course at Hampshire College this month. We are expecting their certificates of completion in the mail soon, indicating that they passed their exams and have become Accredited Organic Land Care Professionals. Congratulations! In addition, Kyle and Rick are studying for the International…

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Priscilla’s Garden To-Do List for Late October/Early November:

Cut down perennials in stages as foliage blackens or flops over Dormant pruning season begins when leaves are off the trees, with structure easily visible Refresh containers for fall with hardy material that can withstand the occasional cold night Remove spent annuals planted in the ground Dig and store tubers of dahlias and gladiolus after…

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Anti-desiccant and Deer Protection: Now is the Time to Plan Ahead for Winter

Our Plant Health Care Manager, Reese Crotteau, is looking ahead to our November season of anti-desiccant and deer protection applications. We aim to prevent winter damage from scorching sun low in the sky in late winter plus potential harsh wind action on broadleafed evergreens like rhododendron, holly, and boxwood through our anti-desiccant spray program. This…

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Plant Pick: Asters and Goldenrods, inspired by Robin Wall Kimmerer’s book Braiding Sweetgrass

I re-read this great book recently with my book group. The author decided to study botany as a young college student because she wanted to find out why asters and goldenrods like to grow together. They certainly are a perfect color combination in our fields, roadsides and gardens. And perfectly native to New England! Aster…

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Priscilla’s To-Do List for Late September/Early October

Continue to deadhead and deadleaf perennials, making way for fall color Cut down any mildewed peony, helianthus or phlox and make plans to amend soil or transplant Stake tall aster, goldenrod, boltonia against wind and rain storms Freshen containers for fall, removing spent summer plants Continue to foliar feed annuals such as dahlias, lantana and…

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Priscilla’s Garden To-Do List for Late August into September

Finish pruning spring blooming shrubs and trees Enjoy the color of dahlias, native hibiscus, Rose of Sharon and phlox Plan changes to your garden this fall Keep watering anything newly planted last fall or this season Patrol beds for deadheading and weeding through the coming month Deadleaf daylilies as you cut spent stalks, removing yellowed…

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Check your Houseplants for a New Invader: Spotted Lanternfly

The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources is warning consumers to check houseplants purchased this winter for a new pest called Spotted Lanternfly. Evidently, a single dead pest was found in a home near Boston and reported to officials. Experts believe the pest may have arrived on a shipment of poinsettia plants that arrived from Pennsylvania. Spotted…

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Plant Pick: Plants with Interesting Bark in Winter

Stuck indoors a lot in winter?  Let’s plant something interesting to view from your windows!   Most broadleaf evergreens like rhododendrons curl their leaves tightly in the cold for self-preservation.  This isn’t that attractive over time.  Why not try something different?  Textured bark might be one solution.   One of my favorite native woodland plants…

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Plant Pick – Pines

Evergreens are popular this month, so I thought I would feature our native white pine, Pinus strobus, and its relatives. This is my favorite evergreen for winter containers as it lends a graceful note, draping over the edges.  Needles on this pine appear in bundles Eastern White Pine of 5 and are soft to the…

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