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This week in your Massachusetts garden & landscape

Week of February 18, 2019
  • To create an herb garden, choose a site that is sunny and drains well.  Prepare the site by turning in some compost such as shredded leaves.  The compost will aid in releasing nutrients slowly so the herbs will be fed.  Adding additional leaves and manure the fall before planting so they can break down over the winter is most beneficial.
  • American barrenwort (Vancouveria hexandra) is a wonderful perennial groundcover for part to full shade.  It grows 12” – 18” tall with small, dainty white flowers in the late spring to summer. American barrenwort is a very hardy plant in zones 5-8.
  • Begin a garden journal.  Keep track of gardening plans and purchases.  Later add a section for what’s blooming and when.
  • Consider using a small fan to help circulate the air among indoor houseplants.  Your orchids will especially appreciate it.
  • Check stored dahlia tubers and spray them with a mist of water to prevent shriveling.
  • Attracting big, showy butterflies such as monarchs and swallowtails, as well as bees and other insects, Joe-Pye Weed (Eutrochium spp.) is a must for the pollinator garden.   Growing in sun to part shade and reaching up to 6’ in height, Joe-Pye’s beautiful pink and purple blossoms will grace the garden during July and August.  Hardy in zones 3-8.
  • Turn the compost pile as soon as you are able and it is not frozen.
  • Take a good look at your gardening tools and make any needed repairs.  Also, sharpen hoes, spades and pruning tools.
  • Perform a soil test of the vegetable garden.  A soil pH between 6 & 7 offers the best protection against disease-causing microbes.  Contact your local university soil testing laboratory or a Master Gardener’s Program.  They will often perform soil testing at local Farmers’ Markets for a small donation.
  • Attract cardinals, goldfinches, nuthatches, towhees, grosbeaks and siskins by planting asters (Symphyotrichum, Eurybia, Oligoneuron spp.), coneflowers (Echinacea spp.), and sedums (Hylotelephium spp.) in the garden.
  • Be on the lookout for a new cultivar of Texas yucca proudly named ‘Coral Glow’.  It is evergreen and reaches heights of 5’-6’ and 3’-4’ wide.  Spikes of coral-orange flowers attract hummingbirds while blooming for four weeks in the summer.  Hardy in zones 5-9.

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