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This week in your Massachusetts garden & landscape

Week of August 14, 2017

“They are the very quintessence of the woods, whether they rise to form a classic urn like the great ostrich, or quiver on ebon stems like the lovely maiden-hair.  The very name has a fresh, fragile sound in any language – Filices, felci, fougeres, Farnens, ferns.” George H. Ellwanger, The Garden Story, 1889.

People often wonder what to plant in the shade.  Ferns are an excellent choice.  There are so many to choose from in different sizes, shapes and colors.  The texture of the foliage and the way they dance in the breeze make them the perfect choice for a lovely shade garden.  A garden can certainly be comprised of just ferns themselves – a simple and elegant space immediately naturalizing the setting.  When selecting ferns for your garden, keep in mind the growing conditions most suitable for them.  Most ferns prefer and do best in a shady location with moist soil conditions.  An exception is the Hayscented fern.  It does well in full to part sun and with dry soil conditions.  Choose a space where ferns would be happy and plant ferns!  As always, check with your favorite garden center for the best selection.

Tips for this week:

  • Look for striped cucumber beetles on leaves of squash and cucumbers.  Evidence of these beetles are holes in the leaves of the plants.  The beetles also carry a bacterial disease that will cause the entire plant to wilt and then die.  Check with your favorite garden center for their best control recommendation.
  • Harvest leaves of basil, oregano and sage for drying.
  • To help harden the bulbs of onions, withhold excess water from them as their leaves begin to die back.
  • If you don’t already have aconitum carmichaelii (fischeri) (azure monkshood) in your garden, August is a great time to add some!  These beautiful, rich, purple-blue flowers bloom all the way through September.
  • Consider swapping out the invasive shrub Viburnum opulus ‘European Cranberry  Bush’ for the native viburnum opulus ‘Highbush Cranberry’.
  • A beautiful container combination for the autumn is Helianthus ‘Ballard’, Pennisetum glaucum ‘Purple Majesty’, Iresine ‘Purple Lady’, Spilanthes ‘Peek-a-Boo’, and Helenium ‘Dakota Gold’.  The ‘Peek-a-Boo’ makes a nice touch for Halloween.

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