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This week in your Massachusetts garden & landscape

Week of January 8, 2018

There may be snow outside, but let’s get through the garden week with some fun facts and dreams of spring colors!

  • Blue jays bury acorns in the fall for food in the winter.  They don’t bury just a few acorns but rather thousands.  One single blue jay can bury 4,500 acorns in a single fall.  These birds have an expandable esophagus and stuff themselves with three to five acorns at a time before “planting” each acorn approximately ½” into the ground.  When retrieving them, the birds only remember where roughly 25% of the acorns were placed.  Many of the forgotten acorns often germinate and become oak trees.
  • To add a bit of brightness to your garden this year, consider Allium ‘Mount Everest’.  It has brilliant white florets in tight globes 4 to 6 inches across.  It reaches approximately 2’-3’ in height and has strap- like, gray-green leaves.  A lovely addition for zones 4-9.
  • All parts of the delphinium plant are toxic.  Symptoms of toxicity include burning and numbness of the mouth and throat as well as muscular weakness and spasms.  Be careful when planting certain varieties in the vicinity of cattle as most species are poisonous to cattle when ingested.
  • Many rose varieties, including the Knock Out series, are becoming infected with rose rosette disease (RRD).    The pest that spreads the disease is the rose leaf curl eriophyid mite.  The main symptom of RRD is the abnormal growth of congested clusters of stems called witches’ brooms.  The leaves on the witches’ brooms are often stunted and new growth stays red rather than maturing to green.  Often, there is also a proliferation of thorns on the stems, however, these do not harden like normal rose thorns.  The virus eventually impacts the rest of the plant and ultimately kills it.  Monitoring your roses every two weeks for symptoms is advised.
  • African violets make wonderful house plants blooming effortlessly year round.  During the winter months, the plant likes a sunny east or south window whereas in the summer, African violets prefer the light of a north or west window.  Using room-temperature water when watering only enough to keep the plant moist is best.  Ice cold water will result in spots on the leaves.  Fertilize year round.  Enjoy!

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