September 21, 2012 in Uncategorized
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Test test test ! 3/12/2013
December 28, 2011 in Weston Nurseries
I suspect it will be a bad winter for deer damage. The weather is more unpredictable than usual in Massachusetts. So far, there’s no heavy snow cover to slow Bambi down at the buffet, and when the snows do come my plants will be that much more attractive. And it seems there’s an unusually light acorn crop so Bambi will be more inclined to “eat out”.
My yard is actually pretty deer resistant, with one big exception. I can already see that the deer have been across my back slope, planted with beautiful, old, low and wide yews – mmmmmm, candy! And, adding insult to injury, the soil is unseasonably soft and heavily pawed meaning I’ll have to re-grade and re-mulch the whole area come spring. So, once again I’ll be taking steps to keep Bambi at bay.
There are a lot of repellants on the market. Some of the most popular are Deer Off, Bobbex, Liquid Fence, Deer Scram, and predator urines. Watch for the results of product testing being conducted by the UMass Extension Service. Repellants really are terrific products if you keep several points in mind.
• First, lots of repellants are based on a combination of scent and taste. Marauding deer will need to nibble to be repelled if the scent alone doesn’t keep them away.
• Second, all repellants need to be reapplied on a regular basis. Time and weather diminish their scent and taste.
• Third, predator urines need to be chosen sensibly. A deer is unlikely to be upset by fox urine. Coyote urine or even your own dog’s urine is a better threat.
• Fourth, “Familiarity breeds contempt”. Switch brands periodically to keep deer guessing and consequently ill at ease in protected areas.
• And fifth, don’t wait. Bad habits are hard to break. If you’ve had a problem with deer in the past, you’re likely to have one again. Denial will get you nowhere.
Temporary fencing is a great option, as well. You can usually buy deer netting in huge sheets – one popular brand comes in a piece 14’ x 75’. This is a nearly invisible, black, nylon filament woven into a ½” mesh.
• You can split it in half lengthwise to create two 7’ wide strips and use them to fence in plants. Drive stakes to support the netting and use a staple gun or ties to attach the netting to the stakes. Your goal is to set the fence far enough away from the plants to keep deer from pushing the fencing into the plants and nibbling on what pokes through or above the mesh yet close enough to the plants so that deer won’t feel comfortable jumping over it and feeding within its confines. Deer, like many prey animals, assess spaces not just for how easily they can get in but also get out. So, you wouldn’t want to leave a space of more than 8’ between the netting and the plants. And you want the netting’s top edge to be at least 6’ high. Deer can jump pretty high, and with all four legs on the ground they can reach at least 5’.
• For added oomph, you can tie tin pie pans along the top edge of the netting – shiny and spooky from a deer’s point of view.
• You can also drape the netting right over the plants you want to protect. Remember that whatever pokes through can be nibbled off, although this is usually not enough to worry about, especially with larger leafed plants like rhododendrons. Do try to remove the netting fairly early in the spring when deer move back into the woods but before songbirds return and can become entangled in the mesh.
Belt and suspenders folks will, of course, use sprays and fencing.
So, let’s say you did practice denial and discover next spring that Bambi did a number on your plants. Do not despair! Deer can strip a shrub of almost all the leaves, but the wood and roots can remain healthy. Light browsing usually has a minimal effect; the plant should look fine at the end of the growing season if you follow these suggestions.
• Cut stems back to new buds to remove tattered ends and encourage growth from dormant buds lying beneath the bark.
• Use a balanced (equal nitrogen-phosphorous-potassium) fertilizer during the growing season, being careful not to over-fertilize.
• Water the damaged plants to a depth of 4 to 6 inches whenever the soil becomes dry during the growing season, being careful not to over-water.
• Going into the following winter, use an anti-desiccant spray to protect foliage from winter-burn and reevaluate your anti-deer measures.
Heavy browsing can permanently alter the shape of a plant and recovery can take two years or longer, but corrective pruning can create an equally beautiful specimen form. Repeated heavy browsing can severely deform and eventually kill a plant so you may choose to replace it with one that is less delicious. But before you wrench that plant out of the ground, give it a chance to show its mettle!
For a list of deer resistant plants: http://www.westonnurseries.com/Deer-Resistant-Plants. This and other helpful guidelines are available on our website at http://www.westonnurseries.com//Gardening-Guidelines.
December 11, 2011 in Weston Nurseries
Plants, no matter how well chosen or maintained, can have a tough time with New England winters. You can, however, keep damage at a minimum. Water until the ground freezes (which is usually not until well into late December) or at least past Thanksgiving to be sure plants are hydrated. Temporary mulch, applied when the ground freezes and removed in spring, can protect more tender plants not by keeping roots warm but by insulating roots against the damaging frost-heave cycle. Applying an anti-desiccant spray at the end of November or later helps protect evergreens – especially newly planted ones – from drying winds and harsh sun.
Burlap, waxed cardboard, Styrofoam, and plywood can all be used to screen plants. All winter wraps should allow some moisture and air to enter. Plants near any area that is sanded, salted, and plowed should be protected with a burlap barrier. Move plants in containers to a garage or covered porch. The container is too large to move? Create a barrier around it.
Deer are a problem for many of us. Repellants are effective when population pressure is moderate. Apply them early and reapply throughout the winter. Temporary fences work even better, especially for large plantings.
Preparing for winter is work, yes, but at least we don’t have to weed!
December 5, 2011 in Weston Nurseries
I enjoy watching customer shopping patterns in my job at Weston Nurseries. The first cold snap brings in the gardener looking for WiltPruf to protect rhododendrons from drying out from our harsh winter winds. The end of the vegetable gardening season is marked by requests for Winter Rye. I can even tell what Paul Parent has recommended on his radio gardening talk show from the customer requests on any given Sunday morning.
But I didn’t understand the increased interest in Mouse Magic (a mouse deterrent for homes and garages) this year. I noticed on several occasions, as I walked through the store to my office, customers reading the back panel on the box.
I didn’t understand, that is, until last night at dinner when my husband mentioned that our two dogs have been picking up lots of ticks lately and that, according to the New York Times, 2012 is going to be a bad year for Lyme Disease.
Why? It seems the acorn crop is to blame. Nut trees can have year-to-year fluctuations in the numbers of acorns they produce. Last fall was a record year, with the average per tree being around 250 pounds.
This year the average yield is down to less than half a pound in Central Park and much of the northeast. My hunch is that with the reduced food source outside mice are coming inside in search of food. And, as a result, homeowners are coming to their Garden Centers searching for a product to discourage that behavior.
The New York Times article also looks at effects on the tick and deer population. Read the full article at: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/03/nyregion/boom-and-bust-in-acorns-will-affect-many-creatures-including-humans.html?_r=1&emc=eta1
October 29, 2011 in Weston Nurseries
For me, winters in New England are all about survival. Although in recent years my sons’ enthusiasm for skiing has gone a long way to pull me out of the house to enjoy the snow, the fact remains – I am not a fan. As the days get shorter and the perennials in my garden start shutting down for the season, this not-so-tough New Englander starts stashing away provisions crucial to making in through until April. I’m not squirreling away canned goods, bottles of wine or firewood – ‘though it all helps. My secret to combating the winter blues is the knowledge that I have several pots of spring bulbs tucked away in my bulkhead. For three or four months they sit chilling, growing roots and getting ready for me to pull into my kitchen in February and March when the endless series of storm warnings threatens to send me over the edge! Living with and working around sunny daffodils, beautifully fragrant hyacinths and brightly colored tulips are like a trip to the spa for me. In case you are of the same mind, here are a few tricks for you to use now to achieve your own early spring!
Most spring flowering bulbs can be forced to bloom by manipulating their normal life cycle. Bulbs are dormant in summer and, normally, only start to develop roots when the soil temperature drops. Forced bulbs need a certain period of cool temperatures to trick them into thinking that the winter has already passed and it’s okay to bloom indoors.
Choosing Bulbs: Select a single bulb variety, or create a bouquet with bulbs of similar bloom periods, or extend the show by choosing bulbs with varied bloom times.
Choosing containers: Select a container, with drainage holes, that’s deep enough to hold the bulb plus a 2-3” layer of soil below the bulb and 1” layer of soil above the bulb.
Planting the bulbs: Use a soil mix that drains well and does not include peat moss which can hold too much water. Look for bagged mixes that contain soil, sphagnum moss, and perlite. Add at least 2” of soil to your container and tamp down. Push the bulbs enough to settle into the soil with points facing upwards. Leave approximately ½” between bulbs. Orienting tulip bulbs with their flat side facing the outside of the container helps to balance stems and leaves throughout the pot.
Chilling period: All but Paperwhites require a certain period of time in temperatures between 32-40 degrees Fahrenheit. Water the containers and place them in an unheated space in garage, basement or refrigerator (not with produce). Check soil moisture regularly and do not allow soil to dry out. When watering, add water to the soil surface and allow it to drain completely through and out of the bottom of the pot to avoid rot.
Some specific bulb chilling requirements:
Bulbs / Weeks of Cold
Crocus / 14-15
Daffodil / 15-17
Muscari – Grape Hyacinth / 13-16
Hyacinth / 10-14
Iris reticulata – Dwarf Iris / 12-15
Tulip / 14-20
Forcing: Once the chilling process is completed and the bulbs start to push through the surface, bring your bulbs into cool but sunny space. Slowly transition them into an area that is about 65 degrees F for blooming.
After-Bloom Care: For the most part, I compost the bulbs once they have stopped flowering. If you want to plant the bulbs out in your garden, fertilize them in the container with a water soluble fertilizer and allow the foliage to die back naturally. Once the foliage has dried, you can plant the bulbs in the garden or brush off any soil and store them in a cool, dry place to plant the following fall.
August 1, 2011 in Weston Nurseries
When I was a kid, I was never allowed to have a paying summer job. The family business left us “comfortable”, as we used to say, and my parents would not let me take a job that might otherwise go to someone who needed the money much more than I.
That didn’t get me off the hook – my summers weren’t spent sitting by the pool eating bon-bons. For one thing, we didn’t have a pool, and for another, my parents also believed that those of us blessed with a life that was both healthy and comfortable had a duty to help our neighbors. I believed it then, as I believe it now.
So, at the age of fourteen I became a candy-striper at St. E’s hospital in New Jersey. I volunteered on Sundays all year – the nuns were grateful that someone whose sabbath doesn’t fall on Sunday was willing to help out – and three days a week during the summer. I wasn’t a saint. I did take off for family vacation.
I also volunteered through my high school in one of the first Head Start programs in the country, and I think it was there, helping adorable little kids learn to read, that I unlocked the great magic secret of volunteering: give a little something of yourself and be amazed at how much is given back to you.
Throughout my adult life I’ve volunteered at my kids’ schools. I enjoy my time at the New England Wildflower Society and the Arnold Arboretum. I help man the Weston Nurseries re-fueling station #2 during the Jimmy Fund Marathon Walk in September. ( more on that later) And all the time I’m so grateful for my healthy, happy life and for those of the people I love.
Which brings me to Pink Ribbon Day, this last Sunday July 30th. Weston Nurseries held a breast cancer awareness day complete with raffles and treasure hunts and pink lemonade. You popped pink balloons to see what prizes they held. “Pink Ribbon” plants were discounted, and a portion of their sales were given to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, a non-profit that gives at least 85% to breast cancer research and awareness. All proceeds from our raffles that day went to the BCRF.
Our friends who are survivors worked side by side with those of us who have been spared, and we all enjoyed wearing pink T-shirts for the occasion, all but John, who hates wearing T-shirts almost as much as he hates wearing pink. Even he had warmed to the shirts by the end of the day, at least long enough to pose with us for a group picture.
Customers came dressed all in pink, some with pink straw hats to pink toenails. Mommys brought their lovely little daughters, all pretty in pink. People had great fun searching for the 21 sparkley pink flower pots that held gift certificates. The atmosphere was fun and festive, echoing the truth today that a positive breast cancer diagnosis will be painful and frightening, and may very well tax all of your physical and emotional strength. But education, awareness and research really do work.
We here at Weston were grateful for the chance to help this important cause, and hope to do it again next year. But the fight goes on. Please consider calling the BCRF toll-free at 1-866-FIND-A-CURE for information or to make a donation . Or visit www.bcrf.org.
And especially if you are a cancer-free woman living a comfortable life, count your blessings and volunteer to help. You’ll be amazed at how wonderful it makes you feel.
July 19, 2011 in Weston Nurseries
I’ve never liked pink. Okay, there are pink flowers that I love like my Pink Double Knockout roses and a slew of daylilies in coral and raspberry and another half dozen variations of pink. But I’m still not fond of it outside of my gardens. When I was young and my hair was a very coppery auburn, I decided that it and pink were a bad combination. My mother agreed and, alas, decided I should wear Kelly green – a lot of Kelly green. I’m not really fond of Kelly green either. Anyway, I digress.
There is at least one truly good use for pink – Pink Days, when the growers of Invincibelle® Spirit hydrangeas and of Pink Ribbon™ plants join forces with garden center customers nationwide to raise a goal of $1 million for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Weston Nurseries has chosen Saturday, July 30th for its first-ever Pink Day.
This scourge has probably touched, if only with a glancing blow, most American families. My own escape isn’t very dramatic. About a decade ago a surgical procedure parted me from a relatively minor chunk of flesh – all in a good cause, as they say – and I was given a clean bill of health. But I still remember the panic, the leaden obedience in reading pamphlets and making appointments and signing papers, and trying to think nothing at all while waiting for my turn with the surgeon. And then, luckily for me, the actual joy of finding out my biopsy was okay.
I don’t wish that experience on anyone but, if it has to be so, I want to know that the medical world is actively working at making it less threatening and, perhaps one day, always survivable. I’d be happier than I’ve ever been working in my gardens. That’s a lot of happy. So, I will think pink.
For more info on Pink Day and the BCRF, check out www.bcrfcure.org
June 3, 2011 in Weston Nurseries
Many, many years ago, when mushrooms came in cans and french-style string beans were defrosted and topped with globs of melted Velveeta, my family would drive down to the section of our city known as The Port to take in the Farmers’ Market on a warm Saturday morning.
Our polite little group would wander past stalls and store fronts, gaping in the windows at headless chickens hanging by their feet, and listening carefully to the fishmonger patiently explaining how to tell a fresh fish by its eyes and its scales. We listened once again to my mother’s stories of her grandmother in the Bronx, who insisted, to my mother’s supreme embarassment, on haggling over the price and would tell my mother never to buy from the first stall in the row. The guys in the middle would be cheaper.
Before we left, we had to have lemon Italian ices made by an elderly Italian man who lived around the corner and had converted his garage to a walk-in freezer.
We came home with big, beautiful mushrooms in wooden baskets, bags of fresh beans of many types, blueberries and peaches from south Jersey whose juicy perfection stays with me decades later, and cheeses that you might not have found in a suburban supermarket for the next twenty years. More important, we came home with a better understanding of the world.
We left the chickens hanging in the window.
Time passes, and the world gets smaller. Two interesting things happen: our eyes ( and taste buds) are opened to foods from all over the country and all over the world. At the same time, the generations whose parents and grandparents were so enthralled by the frozen food revolution have realized that fresh is better and home-grown is best. Of course, most of us have limited time to garden and limited space for our plants. So we grow what we grow best and what we like best. But what about all the other wonderful, yummy goodies? Where can we go locally to find them?
Well! This is the time of the rolling year when the Farmers” Market comes here to Weston Nurseries in Hopkinton. Starting this coming Friday the 10th of June, and every Friday from noon to six until October, join us here for the freshest local produce, cheeses, sauces and seasonings, Italian ices, honey, beeswax candles,and my favorite honey mustard from Holliston’s own Om Sweet Om beekeepers. Try Oma’s European-style cookies or the amazingly sinful Yummy Mummy Brownies. We split them so we can try all the great flavors.
And don’t forget to see Buffy for her pretty, pretty silver jewelry. Stock up now on stocking stuffers.
New for this year: a real, live knife sharpener. Is anyone else old enough to remember when the knife sharpener came down the street in his truck, ringing a bell? Red Barn Coffee Roasters, Primative Inspired Creations, Still River Winery, and piles of other great stuff, both edible and wearable, can be found here on Friday afternoons. You can even buy a plant. Or a tree.
But no headless chickens. We promise.
April 13, 2011 in Weston Nurseries
Hooray for Spring! It’s an exciting time here at Weston Nurseries, coming back after three months of Winter to meet up with old friends, co-workers and customers alike, seeing favorite plants and trees,( and contemplating which will be coming home with me this year) and of course, hugging my goats.
These first few weeks are always new and exciting and busy, but there are certain events to which all of us here look forward. One is , naturally, the Marathon. Everyone knows where it starts, and you’ll find us one mile down the road cheering on those amazing athletes , from the first to the last, with the bluegrass band as our back-up. Really, really fun.
But something every bit as fun happens here one day earlier, that you might not yet know about: On Sunday April 17th from eleven to four, my friend and fellow Garden State ex-pat Buffy Cave is hosting Art in the Garden here at Weston Nurseries, and you must come to see this: food vendors, performers, and 40 local artisans.
Now, I’ll admit I’m especially partial to this group of artists, since for nine years in a former life I owned a store selling handcrafts created by New England artists only.They’re some of the best in the country: not only is their craftsmanship superb, but their sense of the absurd is glorious. Trust me on this: my house is filled with New England goodies. My husband used to say I might actually make money if I didn’t buy everything first.
Now I sell trees and shrubs, as many natives as possible, but happily, Buffy carries on the New England artisan tradition and it’s all happening this weekend.
Come see: there’s a yoga dance demo and mini-class at noon, live music from one to four, and face-painting all day.
Come find quilts, tie dye, pottery,candles, ceramics, glass design, photography, woodworking, and jewelry, not the least of which Buffy makes, herself. Check out her silver earrings and pendants molded from antique buttons and drawer-pulls. Beautiful and amazing. Every female in my family received a pair for Christmas last year. So, of course, did I.
Bring home the best local (Holliston) honey from Om Sweet Om. I hope they have plenty of their honey mustard. I’m all out of the jars I bought last Christmas.
Speaking of holidays: Easter is a week from Sunday, and Passover starts Monday evening. You’ll find pretty Easter presents , the perfect gift for your Sedar hostess or something lovely to grace your own Passover table.
So – you’re shopping, and you’re hungry? Go see my friend at the Curbmaster Grill. His loaded veggie burgers are the best, and if he happens to have soup….his mother makes it, and her chicken noodle is almost as perfect as my Grandma’s. I say almost because Grandma might be watching, and Grandma’s soup was better than anyone’s. Always.
Save room for brownies from Yummy Mummy. There must be five or six kinds, and each is better than the last. Yum!
Just a note: After you’ve taken your bags of beautiful things back to the car and refreshed yourself with something from the Red Barn Coffee Roasters, come check out the best of spring at Weston Nurseries: Trees, shrubs, pansies and other annuals, perennials, containers, and everything to make your lawn and garden happy and healthy. We’ll be happy to help you with your questions and purchases – if they can drag us away from Art in the Garden.
One last thing: Buffy has asked me to tell you that the one dollar entrance fee goes to support the John Andrew Mazie Memorial Foundation.
See you there!
March 9, 2011 in Weston Nurseries
The snow is finally melting – hooray! – but revealing many seriously damaged Japanese maples. The long lasting and heavy snow cover was just too much for their weeping branches to support without giving way. What can you do about the damage?
For important specimen trees, calling an arborist may be the best plan. If you’re not sure about how to proceed, you might want to bring in photos to the Garden Center so that we can help you assess the damage.
If your tree’s branches are still trapped in the snow, before you can do anything you’ll have to wait until melting frees them.
Minor breaks in smaller branches should just be pruned away. Use sharp pruners and make cuts at the nearest lateral branch, bud or main stem so that you don’t leave stubs. The tree will fill in these gaps over a season or two.
Breaks in thicker branches are more problematic. Any portion of a branch that is broken through more than ½ of its diameter is unlikely to survive and should be pruned away, again to a logical intersection. If a branch is broken less than halfway through, you may be able to bind the break with twine and seal over the crack with grafting wax. There’s a 50/50, well, maybe 40/60 (against) chance that the branch can knit. Normally the cambium layers of bark have to be perfectly aligned and this has to happen almost immediately, before the edges begin to seal. Because your tree may still be dormant for a week or so, there’s an outside chance for success. Keep in mind that eventually your tree can fill in the loss of even major branches and still display beautiful form with some judicious pruning.
NOTE: Whenever you’re tying up a broken branch to support it, be sure not to transfer stress to other branches that may in turn give way. Use soft materials as ties – old pantyhose work well. And you may want to prune off a little weight from the outboard side of a break to reduce movement and stress.
Breaks in the largest diameter branches and crotch splits in the main trunk can sometimes be mended and given a chance to heal by bolting the split sides together. This video by Merrifield Garden Center does a better job of showing you how to go about bolting such a split than I can possibly do of telling you. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WD9tsau_UI0]
There’s no guarantee your Japanese maple will mend, but you can be certain it will try. Yet again, growing plants is all about patience. And remember that your damaged tree will need key resources to heal in the seasons ahead. So, some fertilizer in the spring and regular water throughout the growing season (especially during hot weather) will help.
And feel free to share information about snow damage with us here on our blog. We’ll do our best to help!