Posts Tagged ‘gardens’

May Planting for New England Gardens

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

Roundabout Bird FeederThe traditional New England garden is filled with a diversity of plants, shrubs and trees that make a regal and colorful display. The choices for plants in this part of the country are crucial, as the New England winter extends well into March, and requires an early-blooming plant if the garden is to turn out by early May or late April. What’s more, the topography of New England means that some areas will have poor-draining wet soil, others will have well-draining dry soil, and still others will contain soil that’s prone to drought. Here are some ideas if you’re looking to get your hands dirty next month!

Drought-Condition Plants
Bearberry is a high-sunlight shrub that acts as a good ground cover. It has bell-shaped white flowers, tiny red berries, red bark, and thick foliage that rarely grows over 1 foot high. The plant attracts hummingbirds. Sweet fern is a tall fern that does well in the shade of New England Jack pine. The leaves are elongated, with soft serrations that grow around a central head, not unlike oregano in appearance. Its spores produce a sweet scent that has been known to attract butterflies and was, in the past, used to treat poison ivy rashes. Pasture juniper is an evergreen shrub with leaves similar to pine needles arrayed low across the ground, often with branches at sharp angles from one another. It can withstand near-arctic temperatures and full sunlight.

Moist-Soil Plants
Woodpecker Door KnockerChokeberry is a genus of shrubs native to the eastern coastline with extremely dark pigmentation that are cultivated ornamentally. They produce clusters of tiny white flowers amongst their yellowish leaves. The edible berries are used in jams and wines, and have one of the highest concentrations of antioxidants ever discovered. The black chokeberry is a hardy small shrub that can withstand extreme weather, wet soil, and late freezes. The plant will grow from 3 to 6 feet in height. This plant can withstand a wide variety of light situations, but prefers partial shade. In April the bright green foliage will emerge, and in May the plant sports pinkish white flowers that are grown in large clusters. During the heat of summer, the foliage remains a brilliant green. The foliage fall color becomes an eye-catching crimson.

Flame azalea (Rhododendron calendulaceum) is an evergreen normally found in the Appalachian mountain range. It produces an open-trussed, trumpet-like flower roughly the size of a fist in orange, yellow or red in late April and early May. The plants can grow over 6 feet in height, and provide an attractive addition to a New England garden. Blooms persist into June. The flowers appear before the leaves or at the same time the foliage emerges. The plant prefers acidic soil and can withstand moist springtime soil. It prefers to be in partial shade, but can withstand full shade or full sun. Be aware, however, that the plant is toxic to humans and animals.

Well-Draining Soil Plants
New Jersey tea is a fast-maturing perennial that splits on the ground and comes up as a series of fleshy stalks as high as 3 feet. It has pale, palm-like leaves. The upper leaves produce series of mushroom-like white flowers in clusters at the end of long stalks. Fragrant sumac is an upward-turning shrub that can grow in a cluster up to 9 feet tall and 10 feet in diameter. It has a tri-lead pattern similar to clover with blood-red flowers that cover the entire plant from end to end in late spring. The berries it produces in hanging clusters draw birds.

New England spring weather often proves itself notoriously fickle. Weather changes can prove dramatic with a warm spring day and a freezing dip the next. Plants that will successfully flourish in May can often prove a challenge to gardeners in the region. In many parts of New England, the soil offers poor drainage and standing water accumulates as snow thaws – so successful May plants should be capable of withstanding wet roots and saturated soil for an extended time period.

Country Pottery BirdhouseCottage Porch Swing

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April Gardening: Where to Start

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

English Garden PotWith spring in the air, the garden calls. For some people, pre-spring gardening started in February when they planted trays of seeds indoors. For those of us who had to get to the pollen allergy stage of spring to decide to do something, it’s overwhelming when we finally get out there. It can be hard to know where to start.

Luckily, the vegetable patch can still wait a week or two, provided we go with nursery stock instead of seeds. First priority is to clean up the winter debris from our yards and nip those early weeds in the roots. Weeding and cleaning may sound like a chore, but consider that the results are immediately visible and satisfying. Research has found that certain bacteria in the soil actually act as a mood enhancer. Gardening lifts your spirits and boosts your immune system.

While you’re in high-spirits and spring-cleaning mode, now’s a good time to sharpen your tools. Once that’s accomplished, take some time to amend the soil in your vegetable patch and get it ready for those seedlings.

April’s a good time to divide any perennials. While it’s all right to cut back any dead stalks we might have missed last fall, resist the temptation to prune hedges and bushes until the leaves have started to come in. That way you don’t get several months of dead patches. Remember not to prune flowering bushes until after they’re finished with their display for the year.

Finally, take a few minutes to clean up your deck or patio. Paint or seal any wood and then bring out the patio furniture. After all what’s having a garden if you can’t sit out and enjoy it after a day’s work?

Garden ToteFrog Hose Holder

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National Agriculture Week

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

English Garden PotNational Agriculture Week falls on March 14th-20th this year. It’s no coincidence that we should celebrate the food that sustains us this week. Here in the United States, it starts with daylight savings time (March 14th), and ends on March 20th, the vernal equinox, the official first day of spring. This week is significant historically as well. The ancient Roman celebration of the return of spring, the Liberalia, occurred on March 17th. Liber is the ancient Roman god of wine and honey and the Liberalia dates back to 500BC and is where the term libations (a celebratory serving of wine) comes from.

It’s too early yet to plant our gardens, but with sunlight and warmer weather, it’s the perfect time to prepare for April and May planting. So celebrate National Agriculture week by taking a few minutes to clean up winter debris, amend your garden with last year’s compost, and prepare a place for this year’s compost pile. Start a few seedlings indoors, evict the mice from that lawn mower, and organize that shed. Then take a moment to sit back and smell that sweet spring air.

Garden ToteFisherboy Sundial Bath

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