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This week in your Massachusetts garden & landscape

Week of December 25, 2017
  • Edible, fruit-bearing cherry trees require considerable winter chilling, however, they can be damaged by early, intense cold in the fall as well as heavy rainfall during ripening.  The most reliable cherries to grow for the home gardener are sour cherries or pie cherries.  Both are widely adaptable and are good for cooking and canning.  The dwarf ‘Meteor’ and ‘Northstar’ pie cherries were developed with Minnesota winters in mind.  Both varieties, and ‘Early Richmond’ and ‘Montmorency’, can withstand both cold and poor spring weather much better than sweet cherries.
  • All parts of the Daphne plant are poisonous especially the fruit. Those species that are particularly toxic are D. cneorum, D. genkwa, D. gnidium, D. laureola, D. mezereum, and D. odora.  Symptoms include swelling and ulceration of mucous membranes in mouth, throat and stomach; nausea, vomiting and internal bleeding, kidney damage, coma, may be fatal; leaves contain irritant chemicals that may cause burning or blisters on exposed skin; ingesting berries can be fatal.
  • When potting up your houseplants, keep in mind that for plants best keep “dryish” or plants that are susceptible to overwatering, porous clay pots are the best choice.
  • Shagbark Hickory is a beautiful tree growing 70 to 80 feet tall and living 250-300 years.  They are known for the “shaggy” appearance of their bark.  They are also a bountiful food source of sweet, edible nuts which they begin producing at approximately 40 years old at one to three year intervals.  A sampling of birds that find these nuts to be a nutritional part of their diet are ducks, wild turkey, ring-necked pheasant, red-bellied woodpecker, blue jay and American crow.
  • Quince (Cydonia oblonga) is a small tree or large bush that flowers at the ends of short shoots growing from one-year old wood.  With proper pruning, you are able to train the quince as a bush or as a tree with one or few trunks.  The mature plant needs little pruning.  Use a combination of heading and thinning cuts to keep the plant open to air and light and to stimulate a foot or two of new growth each season.

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