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This week in your Massachusetts garden & landscape

Week of February 11, 2019
  • Consider planting cosmos (Cosmos spp.), sunflowers (Helianthus spp.), and zinnias (Zinnia spp.) in your summer garden to attract a variety of bird species to include juncos, finches, cardinals, chickadees, titmice and sparrows.
  • If you haven’t already done so, sow seeds of parsley and thyme indoors.
  • For extra-large transplants, sow seeds of leeks and Spanish onions now.
  • When purchasing asparagus crowns, look for one-year-old crowns that produce only male plants which are resistant to rust and fusarium both of which are diseases of asparagus. Some varieties to look for include ‘Jersey Supreme’, ‘Jersey Knight’, and ‘Jersey Prince’.
  • A deer-resistant, host plant for pollinators that makes a grand show in the garden is ironweed (Vernonia spp.).  Growing up to 7’ tall and displaying purple blooms during the summer months, ironweed attracts several species of bees as well as hummingbirds.  It grows in full sun, in average to wet soil and is hardy in zones 3-7.
  • African violets will tell us, if we listen, what they need.  Long, upward-pointed leafstalks are telling us that the light is too weak and yellow-reddish leaves and hanging leafstalks mean the light is too strong.  Choose an east or west window for just the right amount of light.  Don’t let the soil dry completely between watering and use a weak dose of fertilizer weekly.
  • Chickadees, titmice, starlings and purple finches often begin their spring songs this week.  Listen!
  • Cyclamen plants make beautiful Valentine’s Day gifts.  Their cherry red and pink flowers are an excellent choice.  Happy Valentine’s Day!
  • Starry false Solomon’s seal (Maianthemum stellatum, syn. Smilacina stellate) is a rhizomatous perennial perfect for planting under deciduous trees.  Thriving in moist, shady woodlands or near ponds and streams, starry false Solomon’s seal grows only one to two feet tall.  Late spring displays of white, star-shaped flowers followed by small, purple-striped, green fruit create a lush groundcover on the forest floor.  The fruit is a valuable food source for a variety of wildlife.  Hardy in zones 3-7.
  • For a very delicious flavor, add one cup of elderberries to pear or apple pie filling.


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