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This week in your Massachusetts garden & landscape

Week of April 1, 2019
  • Such a pretty plant, deserving a prominent spot in every herb garden, is hyssop.  It is very easy to grow and not at all bothered by insects nor disease.  Prune it back to within 6” of the ground, as the flowers die back, and it will remain lush and full.  After pruning it back, fertilize with fish emulsion to keep the plant healthy.  Hyssop combines very nicely with the more feathery herbs such as dill and anise.  It has been said that growing it in the vegetable garden among cabbage plants helps repel the cabbage moth.  Growing beautifully in full sun, hyssop is hardy in zones 3-10.
  • To trick birds and keep them away from your fruit trees and berry harvest, scare-eye balloons, printed with oversized eyes on all sides and foil streamers dangling below, may prove effective as a quiet deterrent.  Have them in place prior to the fruit ripening completely.
  • Great for a damp, shady location is buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis).  It’s fragrant, white flower heads appear in June and are a magnet for several species of bees and butterflies.  Round, reddish-brown fruits follow after the flowers and will persist into winter.  Growing 6’ tall and beyond, buttonbush is hardy in zones 5-9.
  • Cut back the dead tops of perennials that were left last fall.  Discard the dead foliage.
  • As soon as the weather permits, and the soil is not too damp, rake winter debris from lawns and flower beds.  A bamboo, or other springy type, rake is less likely to tear sod.
  • Pansies can be purchased and planted outside now.  Pinch off each flower as the spent petals curl.  This will encourage additional flowers to bloom until it gets too hot.  If you purchase heat-resistant varieties, they will bloom even longer.
  • Purple coneflower (Echinacea spp.) makes a beautiful addition to the perennial garden.  Purple coneflowers are beautiful as cut flowers brought into the house.  Attracting a variety of bees and butterflies, honey bees are common visitors.  Blooming all summer in the full sun, the purple coneflower will grow up to 4’ and are hardy in zones 3-9.

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