Get Your Hands Dirty!

The Saga of Cambridge Clay

At a recent job in Cambridge, we found ourselves stuck in sitting water. The earth at this site is predominantly clay. This is all too often the case in Cambridge where we have an unbelievable amount of clay-based soil. The clay, in and of itself, DOES have nutrients. The problem is that it doesn’t drain. Plants need oxygen to grow and the heavily saturated, clay-based soil becomes compacted and doesn’t allow for that.

This is a classic example of the unforeseen circumstances that plague any construction plan or design deadline. At this particular site, the solution involves constructing and installing an intricate network of containers, dry-wells and pipes.

 

 

 

 

 

Putting the garden to bed

It’s always a sad time when the last of the leaves have fallen. And while nearly everyone has experienced the joy of raking the leaves and then jumping in piles, it’s not all fun and games.

 

Properly putting your garden to bed is essential if you plan on having a lush and healthy garden when spring comes back around. In our gardens, we cut back perennials. We reduce the roses by cutting back long branches and diseased areas to avoid wind or snow damage. Wait until just before bud break in March to cut all the way back for a finer pruning. We lay down a top dressing of compost or light mulch for insulation to protect roots from freezing and thawing. We spray anti-desiccant on all broad leaf evergreens like rhododendrons, holly and boxwood. Along with rooftop trees, boxwood will be wrapped in a layer of burlap to shield from winter burn. All pots are emptied and irrigation systems are blown out. Lawns are over-seeded. This promotes grass growth but prevents the bad weeds from creeping in. Now, your garden is ready for holiday decoration!

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A note from Jean…

Spring Bulbs:  2011 Picks

One of the most optimistic tasks for gardeners each year is planting spring bulbs.   As gardeners we are use to working hard and being able to stand back at the end of the day and see the results of our labors.  When planting bulbs, the best results are when it looks like we where never there!   This being said, the labor of tucking bulbs into the cool fall soil is worth every effort.  If you choose your bulbs wisely, you can have blooms from February to June.

This year, I would like to share with you some of my favorite and time tested performers. In order of bloom times, I recommend the following:

 

February:

Snow Drops:   Galanthus nivalis, with its bell-shaped flowers is the earliest of all bulbs.  And, yes, they will come up through the snow!

 

March/April:

Crocus:   Blue Pearl is pale blue with a yellow throat

 

April:           

Iris reticulata:   Harmony is a small bluebird-blue with bright yellow blotches.

Scilla siberica:    Spring Beauty has sky blue flowers on strong stems and is great for naturalizing.

Fritillaria:   Small flowered Meleagris, with its checkered pattern bell is also known as Snake’s Head.

 

April/May:           

Muscari or Grape Hyacinths.:  M. armeniacum is bright cobalt-blue and flowers for weeks.  Great planted under daffodils and early tulips. I love this bulb!

 

April/May:           

Narcissus: I pass on the strong chromium yellow daffodils but I do plant lots of creamy white Mt. Hood bulbs.  This is a classic trumpet narcissus that is tall and strong and blooms for a good two weeks.

Small-cup Narcissus are early blooming and naturalize beautifully.  I love Tete-a-Tete which is buttercup-yellow and the all-white Toto.  These are early enough to benefit from an under-planting of brilliant blue scilla siberica.

 

April/May:           

Tulips:  This is the toughest category to make recommendations because there are so many amazing choices.  I do not plant tulips as perennials but rather treat them as annuals because you cannot be sure they will come back year after year.  So this year, I am recommending a color combination I love which is Apricot Beauty,  Queen of the Night (deep purple to black) and White Triumphator tulips.

 

Good luck and if you need any help from us, I hope you won’t hesitate to call.

 

–Jean