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This week in your Massachusetts garden & landscape

Week of September 11, 2017

When considering changes to your landscape, native species are best.  As noted in a recent article by Jessica Toro, co-owner of Native Habitat Restoration, “invasive species have contributed directly to the decline of 42 percent of the threatened and endangered species in the United States.  As bird populations continue to decline at an alarming rate, invasive plants may worsen the problem due to their lack of nutritional value and the increased chance of predation.”

  • If deer are a problem in your landscape, when pruning limb up overhanging branches of crab apples, magnolias and orchard fruits to a height of at least 6 feet.  This will eliminate the line of vegetation that deer can browse.  Keep underbrush to a minimum to remove a food source and hiding place.
  • For blooms from mid-August to mid-September in a semi-shaded spot, chelone lyonii (Pink Turtlehead) is a wonderful choice.  Standing 24” – 36” tall and comfortable in consistently moist, humus soil, it can withstand full sun at any time.  It is also very low maintenance as insects and disease are not a problem with this plant.   Another great reason to plant some in your garden is that the pollinators love it!  Invite them in with chelone lyonii!
  • Some fall bulb choices for a smaller garden may include Crocus (crocus spp. and cvs.), Common Snowdrop, Grape hyacinth and ‘Lilac Wonder’ Tulip.  These plants only grow a foot or less tall and are delicately sized and shaped.  They do require good drainage and mulching is important if your snowfall is meager.  A choice to avoid is star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalum umbellatum).  Although it is a hardy, fragrant native, it does spread very fast and can be a maintenance nuisance.
  • To maintain the beauty and shape of hemlocks, clip or shear trees in midsummer.  They are very forgiving of pruning and will resprout after being cut back quite severely.
  • Old pea vines are an excellent source of nitrogen.  Wait until the plants have broken down in the soil and then plant a cover crop of winter rye.  Winter rye will absorb some of the nitrogen released by the decayed pea plants.  Turn the winter rye under next spring and it will release the nitrogen and serve as a nutrient for newly planted crops.

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