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This week in your Massachusetts garden & landscape

Week of July 3, 2017

It’s a beautiful time of year for hydrangeas!

If you have decided to add one (or some) to your landscape, keep in mind the differences between the various species of hydrangea when shopping.  A hydrangea macrophylla has gorgeous, colorful pink to blue rounded-mounded flowers.  The flowers, depending on the temperatures, last four weeks or longer.  So often gardeners try to add this species to their landscapes in zone 5 or below and are so often times disappointed when the following spring after planting, they are left only with a mound of green foliage and not one flower.  This is because the flowers are set on the previous year’s wood and are often frozen with the winter’s cold temperatures or are mistakenly cut down in the fall.  The flowers are borne on old wood so do not prune until after flowering.  They prefer sun or light shade and moist, organic soil conditions.  They require abundant moisture so watering often is important.  They thrive in zones 6-9.  Next time we’ll visit the hydrangea paniculata and explain why it may be the best choice for your landscape.

  • Recycling organic matter in your own landscape is an excellent way to avoid nutrient deficiencies and keep yard waste on site.  It has been estimated that leaves which fall from a tree and decompose in place recycle at least one pound of nitrogen per 1000 square feet of surface area.  If you prefer to rake up leaves and trimmings, shred and compost them and apply the compost next year as mulch to your landscaped beds.
  • Prune lilacs now that the flowers have faded.  Cut some of the oldest stems nearly or right to the ground.  Shorten any tall stems to a shorter, strong branch.  Decongest the base of the plant by cutting away some of the youngest stems.  Cutting off the spent flower heads will direct the plant’s energy into growth rather than seeds.
  • To liven up your containers, purchase cute ceramic mushrooms from your favorite garden center.  They come in many shapes, sizes and colors.  They will add a touch of surprise to your container and can be used year after year.  In the winter, simple store the mushrooms in a warm, dry location and they will last for years.
  • If you are noticing deer browsing in your landscape, help to deter them by planting some highly fragrant plants.  Heavy scent masks other odors which upsets the deer’s natural predator-alert sensors and makes them uneasy.  Catmint, chives, garlic, lavender and sage are just a few great choices to deter deer.
  • Sow seeds of endive and escarole for fall harvesting.
  • Inspect potato plants for signs of potato beetles and hand pick if present.

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