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This week in your Massachusetts garden & landscape

Week of December 23, 2019

Sending best wishes for a wonderful holiday season filled with peace and the love of family and friends.

  • Bearberry (also known as uva-ursi) is an herb.  A delicate, perennial ground cover, bearberry has short, dark stems and long fibrous roots.  Small white, tinged with red, flowers appear in clusters at the end of the branches in April and May and are followed by small, glossy red berries.  Growing only 3” tall, bearberry prefers peaty, moist soil, full sun to part shade and is hardy to zone 2.
  • Place crushed egg shells in a dish near a bird feeder.  The birds love them and they are especially good for female birds preparing to lay.
  • When choosing cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus) as an annual for your garden next summer, you will also be attracting several species of pollinators including hummingbirds, butterflies and bees.  Select simple, flat-petaled varieties in pink or white; avoid those with double petals.  Cosmos bloom all summer and into fall.  They will thrive in fairly poor soils as long as they have adequate moisture and full sun.  They are a member of the sunflower family and will do best at attracting pollinators when planted in masses.
  • Hyacinths, crocuses and amaryllis can be forced in water alone.  Use a special glass forcing vase or a carafe with a wide cup-shaped top.  The bulb fits in the cup and the pale, hair-like roots descend into the water.
  • When looking for a low maintenance, drought-tolerant groundcover that is hardy in zones 4-8, do not overlook ‘Autumn Amber’ Sumac (Rhus Trilobata ‘Autumn Amber’).  It has lustrous, aromatic, deep green foliage that changes into shades of amber, yellow, orange and red in the fall.  Before the new leaves emerge in the spring, tiny yellow-green flowers bloom followed by red fruits that persist into winter.  Growing only 18” tall, autumn amber will reach 4’-6’ wide.
  • Lingonberry (Vaccinium vitis-Idea) should not be overlooked as an addition to the berry garden.  Evergreen, low-growing and hardy in zones 3-7, lingonberries will keep in the refrigerator for weeks.  Growing only 1’ tall and 2’ wide, they make a wonderful groundcover in a sunny site when given plenty of water.  Two plants of different cultivars will be needed to produce fruit which follows the small bell-shaped flowers in the fall.

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