Here in New England we are so used to all kinds of snow- early snow, light snow, fluffy snow, heavy snow, wet snow, spring snow. Well after 2 Nor’easters in a row, it is a good time to see how spring snow can affect your landscape. When planning a landscape design my first question to the homeowner is “Where does the snow go when your clear your driveway or walkway?”. Then I make sure not to plant anything there! But another area to really take notice of is where the snow falls off your roof. This can be especially damaging to evergreen plants that tend to break under the weight of snow sheading off. And also pay close attention to the north side of the house, or shaded areas where snow will linger longer with out sunshine. Homes with metal roofs can be great for not having to worry about snow build up or ice dams, but those heavy spring snow slides can do real damage to plants below. Taking snow into consideration when planning your landscape is a must in New England! There are many plants that can withstand being crushed and they bounce right back, or some can be easily pruned and will grow to size again quickly with out looking misshapen. Of course there is always the wooden teepee, burlap, or plant protector that can help shed the snow or hold your plant together from getting splayed open. Summer comes soon enough and the thoughts of snow are far from our minds once we get to be out enjoying the landscape. So planning ahead for winter can save the heart ache of seeing your favorite plants taken out by snow.
plant trees shrubs bushes
As we all become more aware of the environmental impacts farming, gardening, and landscaping have on our waters, habitats, and people lots of folks want to move toward organic methods.
‘Organic’ is a term that has taken on lots of meaning and can be interpreted in different ways. The assumption that going organic is the silver bullet to solving agricultural issues has lots of grey areas.
One of these areas is related to pesticide use. The assumption that ‘if it is organic then it must be safe’, is not necessarily the case. Many natural products can be toxic as well, and potentially more harmful than some synthetics pesticides.
The key to any successful pest management is knowledge. First, understanding what it is that you are trying to control. Second, what are the environmental factors that may be contributing to this unwanted pest. The third step is researching the best time and method of control. This process is called Integrated Pest Management(IPM).
Here is a link to find out more information.
What is a Rain Garden? A rain garden is an intentional low spot, or depression designed to collect rainwater runoff. Rainwater runoff occurs when rain lands on surfaces like parking lots, driveways, roofs, or even compacted lawns that can not be absorb by the land.
Why collect rainwater runoff? Collecting rainwater runoff prevents water from flowing directly into open water bodies or flowing directly into storm drains. It allows the water to soak back into the ground reducing erosion, water pollution, flooding, and allows for groundwater to be replenished.
Why does it matter? Often rainwater runoff is contaminated with chemicals from vehicles leaking onto asphalt, road salt, and even chemicals on lawns. Many roads and storm drains are designed to remove runoff quickly, sending it directly to the closest water body with out removing these chemicals first. These chemicals are impacting water quality for people as well as the environment.Another form of contamination is sediment collected along the way which can accumulate in streams and ponds.
How does rainwater runoff affect drinking water? When rainwater rushes off to the closest water body it does not have a chance to be absorbed back into the land. Water absorption is one of the ways drinking water is replenished. If the contaminated runoff goes right into a drinking reservoir, this can cause trouble as well.
Are rain gardens easy to install? Yes, with some simple planning, rain gardens can be designed and installed for homeowners, businesses, and municipal landscapes.
Check out this video about rain garden installation:
January can be a pretty bleak month once all the holiday decorations are put away. Planting for winter interest in the landscape not only brings color, but often birds. One of the best shrubs to achieve this duel purpose is Ilex verticillata, better known as Winterberry. Winterberry is native to northern New England mostly growing in wet areas, but it easily adapts to the planned landscape. A few of it’s favorite feeders are cedar waxwings, blue jays, and woodpeckers.
As you watch the rivers swell with the melting snow of winter and you feel the temperatures warm with the onset of spring, know that many plants and animals are paying close attention to these factors as well. The science behind these correlations determines the timing of many events in the environment. Phenology is the study of these events, specifically the relationship between life-cycle events of plants and animals as they are influenced by climate, habitat, and seasonal change.
Phenology is derived from the Greek word phaino meaning “to show, to bring to light, or make appear” indicating its principal concern with the dates of first occurrences of natural events in their annual cycle. Examples include the date of emergence of leaves and flowers, the first flight of butterflies, and the first appearance of migratory birds, as well as the date of leaf coloring of deciduous trees in the fall, the dates of egg-laying of birds and amphibian, and the timing of the cycles of honey bee colonies. Most of us are novice phenologists as we often notice when the birds return, our bulbs are up, and the trees leaf out.
You can time many of your gardening practices by observing these events, whether it be planting seeds or watching for destructive insects.
Here’s a great chart from www.gardening.about.com
|Plant peas||When forsythia & daffodils blooms|
|Plant potatoes||When 1st dandelion blooms|
|When the shadbush flowers|
|Plant beets, carrots, cole crops, lettuce and spinach||When lilac is in first leaf|
|Plant beans, cucs and squash||When lilac is in full bloom|
|Plant tomatoes||When lily-of-the-valley are in full bloom|
|Transplant eggplant, melon and peppers||When irises bloom|
|Plant corn||When apple blossoms start to fall|
|Seed fall cabbage and broccoli||When catalpas and mockoranges bloom|
|Seed morning glories||When maple leaves reach full size|
|Plant cool season flowers (pansies, snapdragons…)||When aspen and chokecherry trees leaf out|
|Eastern tent caterpillars to hatch||When crab apples start to bloom|
|Gypsy moths hatch||When the shadbush flowers|
|Squash vine borer eggs are laid||When chicory flowers|
|Mexican bean beetle larvae hatch||When foxglove flowers open.|
|Japanese beetles arrive||When morning glory vines start to climb|
Even though the calendar says spring, we are still a ways off from leafy trees and flowering shrubs. You may not be thinking landscaping, but March is a great time to prune trees and shrubs. Damage from the windy, snowy winter often creates broken or damaged tree limbs. Before the trees leaf out you can easily see the structure of the plant. Pruning off dead or damaged branches prevent the opportunity for diseases to occur once the rainy cold spring comes or the hot humid summer weather.
But late March is not the best time to prune sugar maples for the same reason it is the best time for maple sugaring. On a warm day when you prune a maple the wound from the cut drips. In the landscape world we call it “bleeding”, in the maple syrup world we call it “sap”.
Other trees that bleed during warm spring days are birches, elms, honeylocust and other kinds of maples including Japanese maples. But, if you are pruning and not collecting the sap it can make a mess on the tree and be very unsightly.
So enjoy the maple syrup season and plan on pruning your maples when the day time temperatures remain below freezing.