Sunday, November 23, 2008

Tree removal = New Opportunities

Despite the bitter cold this week, work in the landscape goes on. Tree work. On this property we had a situation where a dozen Red Pines (Pinus resinosa) had been in decline for years and removed them to contain the spread of the Diplodia tip blight. They had been under an arborists care for several years, trying to manage the disease but we lost this fight, and decided to remove these trees to stop the spread to neighboring Pine species.

The upside to tree removal is new opportunities. First, there is a big gap after removing 12 trees, lots of potential for new plantings! And we have the winter to consider rethink and redesign that area. Second, making adjustments in the landscape. For instance, in one section a Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida) had been crowded out, caught between 3 Pines and a couple Rhododendrons, this constrained growing area had started to malform the trees shape (see image below). The tree has not shown signs of Dogwood Anthracnose and is otherwise in great health. I am so excited to see how it responds to its new openness and more sunlight and should start to balance out its shape quickly.

Anyone interested in learning more about Diplodia Tip Blight (Spaeropsis sapinea) or Dogwood Anthracnose (Discula destructive), the Cornel University website has very readable and helpful “Fact Sheets” including photos to help id symptoms and of course suggestions for treatment strategies. Link Here:

"A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in." --Greek proverb

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

November's Orchids

As the New England weather turns cold and our landscapes go dormant, the insatiable gardener turns indoors for our fix. And where better to inhale the scent of humus soil and dripping perfumed flowers than the Boston Flower Market. If you are not in the trade get a friend to take you, because with the New England Flower Show having closed, it promises to be a long winter unless you have frequent flier miles and lots of friends down south to visit.

This week the Orchids were in awesome display! Waves of elegant white blooms, which were truly breathtaking. But in just another week or two the display will be entirely Christmas, from Boxwood trees to Pointsettias and Amaryllis. 

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Right Plant for the Right Place

The Right plant for the Right place. No one plant will be happy in every location, there are some plants, which seem to survive anywhere, but even a daylily has its limits.  

The key is plant culture – the closer you get to putting a plant in its ideal location the happier and more stress tolerant it will be. Conversely a stressed out plant (one who is struggling to survive) may throw in the towel after a tough year like last summer and winter. Just like humans – if things are going well in our lives and we are happy a traffic ticket may catch us off guard but we can take it in stride. If we are having a bad week – boss yelled at you, kids lost their third sweater in 2 weeks and your husband forgot about the Momma Maria tickets and scheduled and important business meeting out of town. Then when you get pulled over for speeding, you just may start to cry for real.

1) Site analysis – What are the different areas of your yard? Full sun, part shade, slope, exposed or protected, infertile soil, etc. Knowing this first helps you to select the “Right plant for the Right place”.

2) Culture of plant – magic formula. What does the plant prefer? Acid or more neutral soil? Full sun, sun, light shade, part shade, and full shade? Moist, well-drained, sandy or infertile soils? Hardiness Zone (heat and cold tolerance)? Try to stick to the ‘does best in’ criteria as much as possible – if you can’t find an exact match, pick 3 out of 4.

3) Correct planting procedures – For Shrubs and Trees - Start by digging the hole 3 times the width of the plant’s root ball but no deeper. Digging the hole deeper than root ball can result in the plant being too deep due to settling. Be sure to expose the tree flare to determine proper depth, the flare is where the trunk or branching stops and the roots begin. Backfilling the hole should be done with existing surrounding soil not peat moss or other soil amendments.

4) Water efficiently - Do you have plants that are never happy? Review their culture maybe they would be happy somewhere else or maybe you just need to try a different plant. Do you have an irrigation system? Do you get it checked annually? Is it set up to vary with the different water needs of different plants? (i.e. North side of house doesn’t need as much as south; trees and shrubs, once established, need less than lawn and Perennials). Remember too much water is often deadlier to plants than too little water.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

March in the Garden

Winter lasted a little bit longer than Punxsutawney Phil predicted this year, but finally the ice is receding and the ground is beginning to thaw. And I suspect that spring will happen very quickly when it finally comes. So be prepared.

It is hard to tell to what extent the extreme cold and ice of the past month or so will have on our landscape plants. We may see some drying out and burning damage on broadleaf evergreens since the bitter cold set in before we had any protective snow cover, but we won’t see the full extent of this damage until the weather warms further. The solid ice cover over large expanses of lawn may create a problem…...  

The Hemlock Wooly Adelgid appears to have taken hold again and has been active all winter. This is the insect, which appears as a white cottony mass on the underside of Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis and Tsuga caroliniana) branches. If left untreated this non-native pest can kill even mature Hemlocks in as little as 3 years. Horticultural Oil spray and a systemic including Merit are the most popular treatments for this pest, but contact your arborist for more specific information on how to care for your trees. The Arnold Arboretum research study on this pest is expected to be completed this fall, this is the foremost study on this pest, which began in 1997. If you would like more information on this, check out their website:

To help in your selection of a new or replacement tree, visit the Arnold Arboretum or Mt. Auburn Cemetery. Both locations accurately label their plant material and seeing trees, as mature specimens and seeing them ‘off-season’ will help you make an informed decision.

The New England Spring Flower Show opens Saturday, March 12 and runs through Sunday, March 20 at the Bayside Expo Center in Boston. This year the theme is ‘A Fresh Perspective’ for more information visit The Massachusetts Horticulture website at  

Q. When does season start for tapping Maples trees and how long does it last?

A. Great Question! And like most ‘crops’ harvesting depends on the weather. Last week when we had warmer days the sap of our Native Sugar Maples (Acer saccharum) started to flow, and tapping began in certain areas. According to the Maple specialists at UVM, the Vermont season is typically from March 1 to March 20 with optimal temperatures of 40 deg F during the day and 25 deg F at night. Vermont is well known for Maple Sugar production (or sugaring) but we have a number of Sugar Shacks here in Massachusetts as well. And many of these are open to the public for fun outings. For more information has listings of local activities and sugar shacks.

Questions for Cory?
Send to: Cory Landscape
PO Box 1059
Dedham, MA 02027

April in the Garden

We have had a few sunny days promising a glorious spring around the corner, the Crocuses, Chionodoxa, Galanthus and Scilla are in bloom and Magnolia buds are swelling. My fingers are itching to get into the garden and along with starting my spring clean up and I have been able to divide a few Crocuses and plant a few bulbs I kept cold (not freezing!) over the winter. If you were lucky enough to receive arrangement of potted, forced bulbs (like Grape Hyacinths or Daffodils) you can transplant them into your garden after the blooms have passed, for a perennial show next spring. Be careful if your soil or lawn is still wet, too much traffic on a wet lawn can cause compaction and reduce oxygen to the plant roots with adverse effects later in the season.

The Hemlock Wooly Adelgid (HWA) appears to have taken hold again and has been active all winter. This is the insect, which appears as a white cottony mass on the underside of Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis and Tsuga caroliniana) branches. There is finally some good news in the area of a biological control for HWA a scientist in the Canadian Forest service has identified a beetle, Laricobus nigrinus, which feeds on HWA, research and testing is underway. For more information check out this website: Please note - if you have infected Hemlocks, and are currently treating them do not stop. This beetle is great news for the future, but HWA can still kill a mature tree in 3 to 7 years if untreated. Horticultural Oil is a topical treatment which can be applied this month when temperatures are at least 45’ F (and not freezing for 48 hours after application) also Imidacloprid is a systemic which can be injected into the soil or tree trunk but severely damaged trees may not be able to transport the pesticide to the infected areas in this case tree removal or Hort oil is the best solution.

Winter Moth this pest is my other nemesis, and early indications are that the insect was actively breeding over the winter and the “little green caterpillars” may be out again in force this spring. Check fruit trees Crabs, Cherries, etc. for caterpillars and other pests. If you noticed a lot of moths flying around outside in November and December that was probably the cankerworm moth and the caterpillars usually start to feed on tree and shrub buds just about now. Can treat with horticultural oils or consider hiring a certified arborist.

Apply pre-emergent crabgrass killers to your existing lawn now. This stops the annual weed seeds from germinating (starting to grow). The grass we want in our lawns is a perennial (comes back every year) and the existing lawn grass won’t be effected by the pre-emergent.
Begin removing mulch from your perennial beds, and gently cut back any remaining perennial husks, you may be surprised at how many new sprouts are starting already. Also check the depth of landscape mulch, the optimum depth should be 2” to 3” deep and should not touch or cover any plant leaves, branches or trunks. Improper application of mulch can be very damaging to plants.

Remove stakes, tree wraps and guy wires from trees planted last fall. They can pose long-term problems for trees if left on too long.

Thank you to everyone who has sent in ‘Questions for Cory’, keep those great questions coming. I will try my best to answer those questions here. This question is a repeat from 2 years ago, but it is still a hot topic here in Dedham.

Q. I have a real problem with Skunks digging up my lawn, how can I get rid of the problem without dumping a lot of chemicals on my lawn?

A. Skunks, moles and voles love to eat white grubs (many of which are Japanese beetle larvae), which are feeding off your grass roots before they change into beetles and eat the rest of your garden plants. Your best non-toxic defense in this case is multi-staged. For March to May, The Mass Audubon Society recommends loosely placing fruit netting over the lawn areas under attack by the skunks, birds and mammals don’t like walking across the netting and are therefore discouraged. In the summer when the beetles are on the attack if you keep their numbers down they will produce fewer offspring. Trapping, hand picking, and even vacuuming the beetles can do this, as can encouraging their natural enemies (such as nematodes, cardinals and Spring Tiphia). In late summer and early fall keep your lawn grass longer (and soil temperature cooler), several studies have shown that the shadier cooler areas are less attractive to the grubs. And finally there is Milky Spore Disease (Bacillus popilliae) a bacteria like Bt mentioned earlier, which attacks only white grubs and is harmless to the beneficial insects in your yard, humans, mammals, birds, etc.

Questions for Cory?
Send to: Cory Landscape
PO Box 1059
Dedham, MA 02027

May in the Garden

We finally got the rain we needed, and the warm weather is returning. Keep an eye on any plants, which may have started to show signs of drought stress in late April before the rain. They may need a little TLC this year to fully recover, supplemental watering and fertilizer, keep in mind that drought stress can appear months after the drought occurred. Overall you should be able to determine how your plants fared this winter. Even the late to leaf plants should be waking by now, (Clethra, Itea and Hostas to name a few) what I call the teenagers of the plant world – those that stay up late in the fall and sleep late in the spring. There was a lot of deer grazing this past winter, and they seem to be sampling items not typically on their menu. I suspect it is due to a combination of factors – increasing deer population; homeowners are better protecting their favorite plants and reduced woodland grazing areas. But aside from the deer, I have seen a lot less plant death this year than I have in the past, which is great news!
Because of the crazy weather garden tasks may be slightly off our calendar, for instance those things we would ordinarily do in April we will attend to in May we can take these cues from Mother Nature also called phenology.

To help your lawn look its best, apply preemergence herbicides for crabgrass and annual grasses now. Remember to rake, de-thatch and clean out turf areas before applying these herbicides. If you have large areas of thatch consider reseeding areas instead of applying preemergent. Treating broadleaf weeds should wait another 2 weeks.

Weed, weed, weed your garden – ‘one year of weed equals seven of seed’ if you let those annual weeds grow and set seeds you will be haunted by their offspring for years to come.
Prune rose canes; you should be able to determine the ‘dead areas’ now, start by cutting back to a live bud on the green area (live cane) on Shrub and climbing roses. Floribundas and Hybrid Tea roses should have their canes cut back to 18” tall. Apply 10-10-10 fertilizers.

Be careful to dump out rainwater collecting in accidental places, remember that mosquitoes can develop in standing water that remains for more than 3 days.

Remove stakes, tree wraps and guy wires from trees planted last fall. They can pose long-term problems for trees if left on too long.

To help in your selection of a new or replacement tree, visit the Arnold Arboretum or Mt. Auburn Cemetery. Both locations accurately label their plant material and seeing trees, as mature specimens and seeing them ‘off-season’ will help you make an informed decision.

Thank you to everyone who has sent in ‘Questions for Cory’, keep those great questions coming. I will try my best to answer those questions here.

Q. I would love to be able to take some cuttings from one of my Forsythia and start new bushes in another area. Would this be possible and if so how? 

A. What a great question! Forsythia is actually quite easy to root from soft woodcuttings; softwood is the softwood is the newer growth (typically more yellow than brown) and more flexible, hence soft. You will want to cut several branches off your Forsythia about 1' long, again you want to find the youngest, softest for this process. Prepare some small pots for rooting 4" pots are great or whatever you have handy, add a light potting soil and make small holes (pencil sized) and put 2 or 3 stems in each pot with the fresh cut end down in the soil. Rooting powder is great but not necessary for Forsythia. Trim back the stems if needed, pinch off any leaves, which may touch the soil, or any new buds. You want the energy to go into root development not leaf production. Then moisten the soil thoroughly. Place the plants in an area, which gets morning sun (but shaded from the hot afternoon sun) and sprits daily like you would seedlings. You can also use large clear plastic bags as makeshift ‘terrariums’ just be sure to use stakes to keep the bag away from the stems and leaves and check moisture level periodically – as with all non-aquatic potted plants moist but not wet is best.

Questions for Cory?
Send to: Cory Landscape
PO Box 1059
Dedham, MA 02027

June in the Garden

Well I have stopped praying for rain. And then I think back to the drought a few years ago and refrain from asking for the rain to stop, if we truly get what we ask for I had better think very hard before I make my next wish. The good news is that this wet spring has extended the bloom time of many plants this season, giving us a wonderful display of Iris germanica, Rhododendron and Syringa (Lilacs) among others. But it has caused some late season bloomers to “sleep in” and many shrubs like Clethra, Hydrangea and Itea may be just leafing now. If you haven’t seen any signs of life, I would give those plants one more week to before proclaiming them garden casualties.  

Poison Ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) has also been thriving in this weather, so keep an eye out it can act like a vine or ground cover and I have seen it cropping up all over Dedham. When in doubt remember, “Leaflets three, let it be” it is not always tinged with red and if you have had bad reactions to it in the past, consider hiring a professional to help you eradicate the Poison Ivy. Things to keep in mind while dealing with Poison Ivy: Every part of the Poison Ivy plant is toxic, bruising of the plant releases an oil called “Urushiol” and individuals have varying reactions to this toxin. This oil persists in dormant and dead plants so protect yourself by wearing gloves, a long sleeve shirt and long pants (tuck your sleeves into your gloves and your pants into your socks) and be sure to thoroughly wash all your clothing and tools when you are done! Do not burn this plant the toxin can be inhaled! If you touch Poison Ivy by accident, wash the area immediately with soap and COLD water (warm water may open up your pores and allow the oil to penetrate your skin faster). Consult a physician if the reaction is severe. At this time of year herbicides are your best option for killing/controlling Poison Ivy, look for herbicides containing glyphosate or triclopyr and be sure to follow the directions carefully, repeat applications will almost certainly be necessary. There is a silly but helpful website with lots of images and helpful information.

Lawns grow so fast in this wet weather, and at times it may seem hard to keep up with mowing. When this happens don’t be tempted to mow the grass to its ideal length all at once or you will stress the grass blades. Keep in mind the 1/3 rule, cut no more than 1/3 of the blade of grass in a single mowing, wait a few days and repeat until you get your lawn back to the desired length.
After harvesting your spring lettuces and radishes, Plant fall harvest crops such as beans, turnips, late cabbage and Brussel Sprouts. It is also a good time to mulch your garden to help keep the weeds down and the moisture levels up (not that moisture is a problem this year!).
The Red Lily Beetle is active and laying eggs. This beetle eats the leaves of all true lilies (Lilium spp) and Frittillaria, and they can decimate those plants. They do not eat Day Lilies (Hemerocallis spp). You can easily hand remove the bright red beetles from the Lilly leaves and dispose of them, but also check under the leaves for the slug like egg masses and remove those as well.

Thank you to everyone who has sent in ‘Questions for Cory’, keep those great questions coming. I will try my best to answer those questions here.

Q. I read in your article about the “Invasive Plants” which we are not supposed to use in Massachusetts anymore, but I still see Barberry for sale at some Nurseries. Are they selling these plants illegally?

A. No, but that is a good question and I get asked about his new ban often so I think it will take a while for everyone to get used to these new restrictions. To reiterate, the Department of Agricultural Resources enacted the Massachusetts Prohibited Plants ban January 1, 2006. This ban includes 140 plants considered “Invasive or Noxious” in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and it prohibits the sale or importation of those 140 plants. However, there are some “phase-out” caveats for some of the more prodigious plants like Barberry (Berberis thunbergii), in this case Barberry can be imported into Massachusetts until July 1, 2006 and if it is already being propagated in this state, those specimen can be sold until January 1, 2009. This does not guarantee that you the consumer will be able to find these plants through 2008; I am very interested to see how quickly our local nurseries sell off their existing stock, how this is managed and what happens to demand. But enough of my musings: For more information and a complete list of the 140 plants on the Massachusetts Prohibited Plant List visit the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources Web site

July in the Garden

Proper watering! With all the threatening storm systems, which have not come through (what a tease!), we have had so little rain. So, it is very important to water properly. Long, soaking watering sessions a few times a week is best. These deep soakings are best for most plants and plantings other than germinating seeds. Use soaker hoses or other ground level sprinklers to quickly get the water where the plants need it – to the roots. Established lawns, trees and shrubs and many perennials typically need only 1” to 2” of water or rainfall, even in July. Running your lawn sprinklers at mid-day, in full sun on a hot day, is not efficient watering. Most of the water will evaporate before it reaches the roots of your thirsty plants. This can also scorch the leaves of many garden plants, similar to applying baby oil to your skin and running around in full sun.

Mulching. Remember DO NOT mound mulch around the trunks of tree or shrubs! If you haven’t mulched your garden yet this year, you can still do so to good effect. Proper mulching (about 2” to 3” deep) can help reduce water evaporation at the root level where plants need it the most, it helps keep down weed (which compete with your plants for sun, water and other nutrients; and it keeps the soil temperature up to 25’ cooler which promotes better root development. Mulch SHOULD NOT touch the bark or trunks of trees and shrubs.

Also if you are heading off on vacation this month, mow and water your lawn before you leave. When mowing your lawn follow the 1/3 rule. Cut no more than 1/3 of the grass blade in a single mowing. This reduces the stress to the remaining blade and ensures the clippings are small enough to be left in place for ‘mulching’ as they quickly decompose. The best schedule I have found is to water your lawn in the early morning and then mow in the early evening. This way cut blades are not exposed to the drying heat of the day.

Other garden chores for July: Prune sucker growths on tomato plants, for the best fruit production. Suckers are additional shoots, which form where a leaf connects to the main stem. And to avoid blossom rot or cracking of the tomato skin, keep the soil around your tomato plants evenly moist. Mulching can help.

When harvesting blueberries, remember to leave them on the bush for several days after they have turned blue for the sweetest flavor. Netting your bushes will help prevent the birds from eating your berries before you do.

Deadheading (removing spent blooms) of many annuals and perennials will encourage repeat blooms. Also an aggressive prune of many perennials such as Nepeta and Salvia now, will promote new growth and flowers for late summer.

And towards the end of this month, stop watering any Amaryllis you are trying to hold over from last winter (even if it has green leaves), and move them to a cool, dark spot (unfinished basement is what I use). Leave the bulbs in their pots untended until October. A colleague of mine recommended turn the pots on their side so you don’t accidentally water them.

August in the Garden

It may be hard to think of gardening in this heat and humidity. But as the cooler weather promises to roll in here are some things to keep your garden growing beautifully through August.

Deadhead perennials and Annuals to encourage re-blooming. By pinching off the forming seed heads and seed pods you trick the plant into thinking it has not done its job yet (reproduction) and the plant will channel its energy into putting out more blooms.

Bleeding heart (Dicentra) and Oriental poppies (Papaver) – now is a good time to dig up and divide these plant roots while they are dormant. Cut the root into sections about 2” long, and then plant each section as if it were a new plant, or pot some up to give to friends.

‘Good Bugs’ – I seem to mention a multitude of insects that are attacking your garden plants. But remember there are insects, which we want in our gardens, they act as pollinators, soil builders and predators of the ‘bad bugs’. When you consider using pesticides and insecticides in your yard, keep in mind these beneficial bugs and ask for products, which specifically target your problem bugs or consider ‘green solutions’. Beneficial Bugs include: Bees which help pollinate and make our flowers beautiful; Lady Bugs which eat aphids, scale and mites; Praying Mantis which eat a multitude of ‘bad bugs; and Lacewing which eat caterpillars and leaf hoppers.  

Reseeding your lawn, the middle of August through September is best time of year, whether you are repairing bare patches or creating a new lawn. And remember that seed needs a little bit of water every day to germinate effectively, just enough water to moisten not down the seeds.

Consider keeping your lawns longer, mow at 2 1/2” to 3”. The UMass Turf department states that longer blades of grass correlate to deeper roots (and deeper roots need less frequent watering).

Q. Do Mulberry trees start out like the infamous Mulberry bush as in the ‘Pop goes the Weasel’ rhyme or planted as a regular tree? 

A. I think there are a couple questions in here, not the least of which is when is a large Shrub/ Bush considered a small tree? However, this is a wonderful opportunity for me to get on my soapbox and illustrate the importance of Botanical Taxonomy (or Latin Names). Mulberry is a common name or nic-name, and like a nic name they are sometimes easy to trace back to the real name (Bob is usually short for Robert); but sometimes they are whimsical like ‘Cookie’ or ‘Bunny’ or describe a characteristic like ‘Spike’ or ‘Red’. In the case of ‘Mulberry’ I found three separate Genuses, which claim Mulberry as their common name, some of which are shrubs and some of which are trees. Genus is a group of plants with common characteristics, which probably evolved from a common ancestor (so correlating back to human equivalent: everyone in Dedham with the last name Jones). Another way of looking at this is that 3 different Genus can be as varied as: Acer or Maple tree, Iris (a perennial) and Rhododendron. So what is the answer to Margot’s question? Buyer beware – know what kind of plant you are buying, if you want a shrub don’t buy a tree. I tried to do a bit of research to find out which plant is referred to in the rhyme, but there is a lot of conflicting data out there. I suspect Morus nigra (Black Mulberry) is the plant of rhyme but I can’t be certain. In any case check the name in italics – that is your Botanical nomenclature and it will give you more specific and reliable information than a common name.

Questions for Cory?
Send to: Cory Landscape
PO Box 1059
Dedham, MA 02027

September in the Garden

September is a great time to catch up in the garden. Weeding, seeding, planting and dividing are all good chores for September, and in many cases it is the best time for landscape projects. Here are some suggestions to get you started.

Spring flowering bulbs – Planting bulbs is one of my favorite fall projects, plant bulbs in groups of 3’s and 5’s for best display and put them right in between your summer and fall blooming perennials. There are so many excellent bulbs available, new and exciting cultivars look for Daffodils (Narcissus), Grape Hyacinths (Muscari) and Alliums for deer resistance. And try Fritillaria, Chionodoxa, and Camassia bulbs for something a little bit different. When selecting bulbs choose ones with some weight and firmness. Bulbs, which feel like dried husks, are probably not healthy. Shop for bulbs now while the selection is good but wait until the weather cools until you plant them.

Fall is a great time to also plant many trees and shrubs. Look for plants with healthy leaves and strong stems or trunks. Also take a tour of the Arnold Arboretum to see what those shrubs, trees and vines may look like in a few years. They have free, guided tours available as well easy self-guided gardens such as the Leventritt shrub and vine garden.

Divide and replant perennials such as Iris, Shasta Daisy (Leucanthemum), Hosta and others that have thrived in your yard. Share the surplus with friends and neighbors, also many perennials freely self-sow (Echinacea, Digitalis, Coreopsis and others), these “Babies” are easy to dig up and share as well. Chances are if they work in your yard they will work in others.
Reseed bare spots in your lawn, September is best time of year, whether you are repairing bare patches or creating a new lawn. And remember that seed needs a little bit of water every day to germinate effectively, just enough water to moisten not drown the seeds.

Later this month, dig up your ‘tender bulbs’ Gladioli, Cannas, and Dahlias. Trim off the brown shoots and roots and store in a cool dry place for the winter.
Start repotting houseplants in preparation to bringing them back indoors. I scatter my houseplants all over my yard, under shrubs or in bare spots in the garden and typically I forget one poor plant and lose it to frost.

Thank you to everyone who has sent in ‘Questions for Cory’. I will try my best to answer those questions here.

Q. My Lilacs are leggy and overgrown, is September a good time to prune them?

A. Not if you want blooms next spring. All Lilac shrubs (Syringa) bloom on old wood, this means the flower buds for next spring have already been set on your plants. A good rule of thumb for pruning flowering shrubs is right after they finish blooming, and for Lilacs this means Late May or June depending on the species. Lilacs are very long-lived plants and they do respond well to rejuvenation pruning when, as you stated, they become leggy and overgrown. This is most often the case with Common Lilacs (Syringa vulgaris) but it can also be the case with Manchurian Lilacs (Syringa patula), Littleleaf Lilacs (Syringa microphylla) and other species as well. Rejuvenation or Renewal pruning is aggressive and requires complete removal of several old branches at ground level, which then allows sunlight and air into the lower portion of the plant and invigorates new growth. Keep in mind the 1/3 rule – “Never prune off more than 1/3 of a plant in one year”.

Questions for Cory?
Send to: Cory Landscape
PO Box 1059
Dedham, MA 02027

October in the Garden

October’s Objective – Putting garden to bed and Preparing for next spring. This means raking leaves, mowing the lawn and planting your spring flowering bulbs! October is still a great time to plant trees and shrubs, the ground typically wont freeze until mid December so plants should have several weeks of root growth before going completely dormant.

  • Spring Flowering Bulbs: if you haven’t made your selections yet, there are lots of good deals and places to get bulbs. The key to selecting healthy bulbs is to pick ones that have weight to them. Pick your bulbs as you would an onion or clove of garlic – meaty, not mushy or dry. And remember to augment your selection of Daffodils, Crocus and Tulips with other beauties. For easy April blooms try: Chionodoxa, Scilla and Muscari. For May to June blooms try: Alliums, Hyacinthoides, Leucojum and Eremurus.
  • And if you buy more bulbs than you can finish planting, remember to store them in a cold (not freezing!), dry location for the winter, like an unheated basement or garage. Then in the early spring you can pot them up and force them for indoor bloom.
  • Rake leaves early and often before they get matted and moldy, this can save a lot of headaches with your lawn. You can also grind the leaves and compost them with other plant debris, which is not diseased or infested with bad bugs. Remember thick mulch makes a nice cozy place for many pests to over winter, so if you had bad bug problems this past year (like the red lily beetle) clean out as much mulch and debris as you can.
  • Lawns should be mowed a bit lower than summer months 1 ½ to 2” grass height is ideal and remember to keep mowing as long as the grass keeps growing. Some years that will carry into December. Your lawn will also benefit from a fall application of fertilizer, giving it the carbohydrates needed to help survive winter.  
  • Now is a great time to fertilize trees and shrubs, especially if they did not get a spring application. Do not be tempted to prune them though, until after they are dormant. Pruning now will encourage new growth and instead you want them to save their energy for winter and next spring.
  • Start Amaryllis bulbs for Holiday blooms. Many species of Amaryllis take 8 weeks or so to bloom, be careful not to over water those bulbs while waiting for growth to start!
  • Clean, repot and bring in the last of your houseplants. Keep an eye out for freezing temperatures, but I leave my Christmas cactus out as long as possible to try to get it to bloom at Christmas (rather than Thanksgiving).  

Thank you to everyone who has sent in ‘Questions for Cory’, keep those great questions coming.

Q. My herb garden did really well this year and I have lots of Parsley and Chives left over. Can I bring the plants inside for winter use?

A. Some herbs like sage, parsley and chives can be harvested now and frozen. I like using little Ziploc bags for storage. Some herbs don’t freeze as well; I haven’t had great luck with Basil. But a friend of mine used to make a massive end-of-season batch of Pesto and freeze dollops of it in an ice cube tray for easy winter use. Also, if you have grow lights some herbs can be brought indoors for continued winter harvest. I have had luck with Rosemary, chive, lemon balm and mint. I am trying basil again this year and I’ll let you know if it is a success.

Questions for Cory?
Send to: Cory Landscape
PO Box 1059
Dedham, MA 02027