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This week in your Massachusetts garden & landscape

Week of December 24, 2018
  • If turkey is on your menu this holiday, consider flavoring it with herbs of basil, garlic, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, sage and/or thyme.
  • An excellent native pollinator plant attracting bees, butterflies and hummingbirds is blazing star (Liatris spp.).  The lavender flower spikes bloom from the top down for several weeks in the summer.  Growing up to 6’ tall in a sunny location, blazing star will tolerate poor soil conditions.   It is also deer resistant and hardy in zones 3-9.
  • Bristle leaf sedge (Carex eburnea) is a good alternative choice to traditional lawns.  It grows 6” – 12” high and spreads slowly by rhizomes.  Preferring an evenly moist soil when first planted, it will tolerate drought-like conditions once established.  Hardy in zones 2-8 in part shade to shady conditions.
  • The gift of a cyclamen plant is wonderful for the holidays.  These long-flowering plants come in an array of colors such as maroon, pink and white.  Choose plants with lots of buds under the leaves and place them in a bright location away from direct sun.  Water from the bottom and fertilize every two weeks.  They will flower until March at which time you will want to move them outside for the summer and place them in a sunny location.  Water when the soil in dry and repot in late summer when new leaves appear.
  • Poinsettias require very little care and make a beautiful gift for the holidays.  They are not fussy about their location as long as the temperature stays between 65 and 70 degrees.  Water them when they are dry.
  • Once the holidays are over, recycle your tree rather than putting it out in the trash.  It can be chipped and shredded into mulch for your garden.  You can also cut off the boughs and place them on perennial beds for added protection against spring thaws or place it near a birdfeeder to give birds shelter from wind and predators.  Be sure to remove all decorations, lights and tinsel.
  • ‘Elfin’ thyme (thymus serpyllum ‘Elfin’) is the perfect plant choice for in between stepping stones.  Small leaves with lilac-colored flowers that bloom in spring or summer, hardy in zones 4-9 and preferring full sun, ‘Elfin’ thyme may become leggy if it receives less than five hours of sun a day.

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