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Hyannis Country Garden Blog
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Celebrate The Season ~ Loving Fall

Since Autumn is such a glorious time on Cape Cod, people want to celebrate the season. So we decided to give you a picture gallery with a few ideas for “fall-ifying” your yard, porch and garden.

If you get hay bales they can serve more than one purpose. Use them to decorate through Thanksgiving, then use the hay to amend soil or mulch in the vegetable garden. Salt marsh hay, like bales above, is ideal for mulching a perennial garden...just wait until closer to January to apply it to the garden.

If you get hay bales they can serve more than one purpose. Use them to decorate through Thanksgiving, then use the hay to amend soil or mulch in the vegetable garden. Salt marsh hay, like bales above, is ideal for mulching a perennial garden…just wait until closer to January to apply it to the garden.

Urns can hole a stack of colorful pumpkins, and any large container can be planted with a mix of pumpkins, mums and other fall plants.

Urns can hole a stack of colorful pumpkins, and any large container can be planted with a mix of pumpkins, mums and other fall plants.

Once the peonies were cut out of this perennial garden, it needed something to fill that area. So I took two identical flower pots, turned one upside down to make a base and put the other on top. I planted a ring of Heuchera plants around the edge of the top pot, and added a pumpkin stack. The Heuchera plants will get placed in the perennial garden after Thanksgiving.

Once the peonies were cut out of this perennial garden, it needed something to fill that area. So I took two identical flower pots, turned one upside down to make a base and put the other on top. I planted a ring of Heuchera plants around the edge of the top pot, and added a pumpkin stack. The Heuchera plants will get placed in the perennial garden after Thanksgiving.

Don't forget the deck furniture when it comes to fall decorating. A fall-flowering plant (this one is a plectranthus) and some pumpkins and gourds make a lovely table display.

Don’t forget the deck furniture when it comes to fall decorating. A fall-flowering plant (this one is a Plectranthus) and some pumpkins and gourds make a lovely table display.

Got a stump? Then you've got the perfect base for a fall arrangement. Get creative with pumpkins, sticks, leaves and anything else that strikes your fancy.

Got a stump? Then you’ve got the perfect base for a fall arrangement. Get creative with pumpkins, sticks, leaves and anything else that strikes your fancy.

At Hyannis Country Garden, we love landscapes in all seasons. Right now, we've fallen in love with Autumn.

At Hyannis Country Garden, we love landscapes in all seasons. Right now, we’ve fallen in love with Autumn.

 

Bringing Plants Back Inside For The Winter

Here is your "Houseplant Happiness Kit" for bringing plants inside after the summer.

Here is your “Houseplant Happiness Kit” for bringing plants inside after the summer.

As the latest wind and rain storm approached I brought several of my houseplants back indoors. I send many of my plants “to summer camp” and save a few tropicals and tender annuals from year to year as well. Normally I bring all of these in at the end of September, but this fall many came indoors a bit earlier because of the storm.

We don’t give houseplants any synthetic fertilizer in the fall because most of them are going into a resting period for the winter. When the days are shorter the reduced daylight gives plants the signal that they shouldn’t be actively growing. But many people realize as they bring plants inside that they may have forgotten to fertilize over the summer, and they want to give their plants a bit of a boost when they come indoors. Here is the method that I use for preventing insect pests and helping my houseplants look their best over the winter.

  1. Come into the store for your “Houseplant Happiness Kit” – for less than $25.00 you can pick up a bottle of Insecticidal Soap, yellow sticky cards, and a bag of Stonington Blend Organic Plant Food. (This Coast of Maine product is normally $19.99 but we have it on sale this week for $12.99.)
  2. Cut off all brown or damaged leaves and dead stems before you bring the plants inside.
  3. Spray the plant with Insecticidal Soap before you bring the plants in.
  4. Apply two teaspoons of the Coast of Maine fertilizer on top of the soil. If it looks like some of the soil has eroded over the summer you could put a thin layer of potting soil over the organic plant food. (Note: sometimes organic plant food shows “mold” as it breaks down on the surface of the potting mix. This is normal and doesn’t hurt the plant.)
  5. Place the yellow sticky cards near the plants. I tuck mine between the tines of an old fork and stick the handle of the fork into one of the pots. The cards trap any fungus gnats and whitefly that might be around. If you see the small “fruit flies” on the cards you might want to pick up some Captain Jack’s spinosad to put in the watering can when you water; this kills the fungus gnat larvae that feed on the roots of houseplants.
    If you see many fungus gnats being trapped on your yellow sticky cards, start putting spinodad in the watering can when you water the plants.

    If you see many fungus gnats being trapped on your yellow sticky cards, start putting spinodad in the watering can when you water the plants.

    Many people find that at some point a plant or two is too large to bring back indoors. Often they call and ask if we are willing to take such large plants and unfortunately we are not. Consider taking a cutting of a large plant and putting the remainder in the compost. And remember that sometimes it’s appropriate to thank a plant for coming, put it in the compost and start fresh with a smaller house plant.

    You can download this list of instructions and products by clicking here. 

The Best Things To Do For Your Yard In September

The tourists might come to the Cape in the summer, but those of us who live here know that one of the best months to be on Cape Cod is September. It’s also a great time to be outside in your yard and garden. Here are a few things that you can do this month into early October that will make your landscape healthier and more beautiful.

  1. Put a light application of Holly-tone under and just beyond the drip-line of your Rhododendrons, holly, and other evergreen shrubs.  You can use this same fertilizer on your Hydrangeas as well.
  2. Apply an inch of compost (I love the Coast of Maine composts) or composted manure (Moo Doo!) on top of that fertilizer around any shrub that “needs a boost.” This works wonders for pale holly or yellowing rhodys, newly planted shrubs and anything growing in older beds where the soil has gotten compacted.
  3. Transplant perennials that need to be relocated. Even if the plants are still looking great, it’s better to move them in September so that there is a longer period when they can get roots reestablished.
  4. Renovate lawns. September is the perfect time to aerate, seed, top-dress with compost or loam, and repair bare spots. It’s a good time to dig up unwanted bent grass, or large areas of weeds and seed these places with desirable types of turf.
  5. Apply an anti desiccant such as Wilt Pruf to your broadleaf evergreens such as Rhododendrons, Holly, Pieris and laurels.
  6. Think about which potted plants or houseplants will be moved inside after spending the summer out-of-doors. Pick up some yellow White Fly Traps, insecticidal soap and Captain Jack’s spinosad to control fungus gnats and other small insects that might come inside on the plants. Start watering your plants with spinosad in the watering can now, a week or two before the plants come in to kill fungus gnat larvae. Spray the plants with insecticidal soap or horticultural oil to kill adult insects on the plants. And once the plants are inside, hang the yellow trap near the plants to catch random gnats and whiteflies.
  7. And don't forget to pick flowers and bring them in for small bouquets. We need to celebrate the season indoors and out!

    And don’t forget to pick flowers and bring them in for small bouquets. We need to celebrate the season indoors and out! Clip flowers from your shrubs, pots, perennials and annuals all September.

What Should I Do To Hydrangeas In The Fall?

Short answer? Not too much! But we know that this answer isn’t very helpful to people who wonder if they should cut them back or trim off the dried flowers. So here is what you need to know as your hydrangeas move from summer into fall.

1.  If you want to pick the blue or pink flowers for drying, late-August and early-September is the time to do so! Cut those flowers that have already turned lavender-gray in color, not the fresh, blue-blue ones. You can either put them in a vase without water, hang upside down to dry, or make them into a hydrangea flower wreath. (Sign up for our make-a-hydrangea-wreath workshop on Saturday Sept 9th – $30.00 – call the store to register. Download calendar here. )

2. No matter which color hydrangea flower you have, once they turn brown you have two options. You can clip the dead flowers off the plant just below the bloom, or leave it on the plant into the winter. Most dried hydrangea flowers break off sometime in the winter and any that remain on the plant can be removed in the spring.

3. Don’t “neaten them up”!  If you cut the stems down to make them look neater at this time of year you’ll have fewer flowers next summer. For all types of hydrangeas you’re better off waiting until May to do any pruning, and for the blue and pink flowering mopheads and lacecaps the only thing you should do at that time is take away any dead stems.

4. Fall fertilization is a good idea – a light coating of Holly-tone around the plants will benefit the shrubs when it’s the growing season next year.

5. Winter protection? That’s up to you. It’s not been shown that protection of mophead and lacecaps will help if temperatures drop to the single digits or below, but a windscreen of burlap might help stop cold winter and spring winds in exposed locations.

6. Clean up! Raking up the Hydrangea leaves after they fall is always a good idea. This helps keep disease and over-wintering insects from remaining in the area. This is especially important for the control of Chilli Thrips that have been found disfiguring hydrangea foliage on the Cape.

Mophead hydrangeas look lovely in the fall when their blue, purple and pink flowers contrast with the fall foliage.

Mophead hydrangeas look lovely in the fall when their blue, purple and pink flowers contrast with the fall foliage.

Brown flowers can be snipped off if they annoy you, but you don't have to remove them.

Brown flowers can be snipped off if they annoy you, but you don’t have to remove them.

Look for flowers like this to dry or for making Hydrangea Wreaths.

Look for flowers like this to dry or for making Hydrangea Wreaths.

White Hydrangeas – The Paniculata Group

In July the blue or pink mophead and lacecap are the stars of the show on Cape Cod. But as we move into August, it’s time for the panicle hydrangeas to take center stage. Those in the Hydrangea paniculata group come in all sizes and they are bone-hardy shrubs that reliably flower from late summer into fall.

Since these hydrangeas bloom on new growth they will flower even after the type of cold weather that has zapped the flowers on their blue cousins. These plants also do well in full sun gardens where the mopheads and lacecaps are likely to brown out quickly. And fortunately there is a variety of Hydrangea paniculata for every sized garden. Here are just a few of the many types of panicle hydrangeas that we commonly carry.

This is a group of a variety called 'Tardiva.'  This is a large-growing plant and it's especially suitable for use in a privacy planting or mixed-shrub border. Tardiva can even be pruned as a multi-stemmed small tree. Tardiva grows quickly and the flowers are a long and lacy form.

This is a group of a variety called ‘Tardiva.’ This is a large-growing plant and it’s especially suitable for use in a privacy planting or mixed-shrub border. Tardiva can even be pruned as a multi-stemmed small tree. Tardiva grows quickly and the flowers are a long and lacy form.

This is a 'Pinky Winky' hydrangea. Like 'Tardiva,' this one grows tall but it has a slightly more upright habit and the flowers turn pink from the bottom up, creating a nice two-toned look in August and early September.

This is a ‘Pinky Winky’ hydrangea. Like ‘Tardiva,’ this one grows tall but it has a slightly more upright habit and the flowers turn pink from the bottom up, creating a nice two-toned look in August and early September. The beauty of these flowers is that they don’t become water-saturated and heavy after a rain.

Here are how the Pinky Winky flowers look in September.

Here are how the ‘Pinky Winky’ flowers look in September. This is an elegant shrub with a silly name!

One of the most popular varieties of Hydrangea paniculata is 'LimeLight.' The flowers start out a lime green, soon turn white and then become pink-tinged in the fall. Limelight grows quite large so place it accordingly. If you need a shorter shrub, try 'Little Lime' which grows to about 5 feet tall and wide.

One of the most popular varieties of Hydrangea paniculata is ‘Limelight.’ The flowers start out a lime green, soon turn white and then become pink-tinged in the fall. Limelight grows quite large so place it accordingly. If you need a shorter shrub, try ‘Little Lime’ which grows to about 5 feet tall and wide.

Need a shorter shrub? Bobo has large flowers that cover a smaller sized plant. Useful for foundation plantings, flowerbeds and containers, 'Bobo' grows to about 3 feet tall and wide.

Need a shorter shrub? Bobo has large flowers that cover a smaller sized plant. Useful for foundation plantings, flowerbeds and containers, ‘Bobo’ grows to about 3 feet tall and wide.

This is a grafted tree form of Hydrangea paniculata 'Grandiflora.' It's where the commonly name PeeGee hydrangea comes from. (It's Hydrangea p. G.)  You can find 'Grandiflora' in shrub or tree form. Other hydrangeas such as Tardiva and LimeLight are also available as grafted small trees.

This is a grafted tree form of Hydrangea paniculata ‘Grandiflora.’ It’s where the commonly name PeeGee hydrangea comes from. (It’s Hydrangea p. G.) You can find ‘Grandiflora’ in shrub or tree form. Other hydrangeas such as Tardiva and LimeLight are also available as grafted small trees.

This is a PeeGee flower, larger than a human's head and turning pink in October.

This is a PeeGee flower, larger than a human’s head and turning pink in October.

Prune all of the Hydrangea paniculata group in the early spring. Although they will still flower if pruned back hard, the stems will be weaker and the flowers more likely to bend into the mud if they are cut back substantially every year. The older stems will be stronger. In general, prune these plants by first removing dead wood, and next locating stems that are rubbing and removing one of those. Look for stems that head into the center of the plant instead of out and away from the middle, and take those away. Finally, tweak the shape by snipping some of the stems back.

Grow A Little Love

When we put plants that speak to our hearts in the garden, we’re always growing a little love. Maybe it’s a peony that reminds you of your grandmother. Perhaps you get joy from plants with fragrant flowers, or those with a particular color of blooms. Some feel their spirits lifted when they add plants that support pollinators and birds to their garden. In these situations, our plantings are truly life-affirming.

But another way to grow some love is when you use plants with heart-shaped leaves. From many varieties of Hosta and Epimedium to the annual moonflower vine, there are several plants with foliage that looks like a green valentine. Perhaps the plant that comes to mind most for growing hearts is the redbud tree.

Cercis canadensis, aka eastern redbud, is a small tree that is native to the northeast. Since it doesn’t grow huge it’s very appropriate for smaller landscapes. Redbuds do well in full to part sun, and best of all, there are several varieties that have colorful foliage.

Here are three we have in the garden center right now. They are perfect for honoring a birthday, wedding or anniversary. Or plant them just because they make you smile.

Ruby Falls is a weeping variety with purple foliage. Being narrow, they make good upright focal point plants in smaller spaces.

Ruby Falls is a weeping variety with purple foliage. Being narrow, they make good upright focal point plants in smaller spaces.

'Ace of Hearts' is prized for its compact habit, semi-glossy leaves on zig-zag stems, and a dense canopy .

‘Ace of Hearts’ is prized for its compact habit, semi-glossy leaves on zig-zag stems, and a dense canopy .

The Rising Sun redbud has several colors of leaves on the plant well into the summer. Lime green is the predominant shade, with smaller peach-colored foliage and splashes of darker green variegation. Grow Rising Sun in full sun to part sun.

The Rising Sun redbud has several colors of leaves on the plant well into the summer. Lime green is the predominant shade, with smaller peach-colored foliage and splashes of darker green variegation. An artist’s plant for sure! Grow Rising Sun in full sun to part sun.

Ways to Make Watering Easier

Early in the season we had plenty of rainfall, but as the summer goes on most people find that they need to water their plants. Even those who have automatic irrigation systems often need to target specific areas with additional ways to deliver moisture since tall plants can block in-ground sprinklers, or the usual lawn irrigation not enough for hydrangeas or newly placed plants.

Here are some products that will make your watering easier.

Every yard needs at least one rain gauge so that you know how much moisture Mother Nature delivered. The ideal for keeping established plants in good shape is an inch of water every week. Be aware that an inch of water in a tuna can, bucket, wheelbarrow or other container with a wide opening is NOT equivalent to an inch measured in a rain gauge.

Every yard needs at least one rain gauge so that you know how much moisture Mother Nature delivered. The ideal for keeping established plants in good shape is an inch of water every week. Be aware that an inch of water in a tuna can, bucket, wheelbarrow or other container with a wide opening is NOT equivalent to an inch measured in a rain gauge.

Soaker hoses are great for delivering water at the base of a plant without splashing the foliage. If your soil is sandy be sure to zig-zag the hose back and forth since the moisture tends to go straight down in sand.

Soaker hoses are great for delivering water at the base of a plant without splashing the foliage. They are also good for supplemental watering of plants like hydrangeas. You can lay down a soaker hose around plants, cover it with mulch, and then hook your regular hose to it for watering when needed. If your soil is sandy be sure to zig-zag the hose back and forth since the moisture tends to go straight down in sand. 

These simple timers aren't expensive and they allow you to put the sprinkler on  before leaving the house for errands, appointments etc.

These simple timers aren’t expensive and they allow you to put the sprinkler on before leaving the house for errands, appointments etc. 

There is a sprinkler to fit every size garden and budget. Come into the store and learn which one best meets your needs.

There is a sprinkler to fit every size garden and budget. Come into the store and learn which one best meets your needs. Each type of sprinkler has different advantages; for example, Gardena products all attach using the same connector, and it comes away from the sprinkler so you can attach it to the hose easily without having to juggle the actual sprinkler at the same time.

It is my goal to have every hose on my property be a Flexzilla! They are easy to un-kink with a shake, stay soft in cold weather and are oh-so-flexible. Safe for people and pet drinking, organic gardening too.

It is my goal to have every hose on my property be a Flexzilla! They are easy to un-kink with a shake, stay soft in cold weather and are oh-so-flexible. Safe for people and pet drinking, organic gardening too.

A watering wand is a must-have tool for keeping containers watered. They allow you to adjust the flow of the water so that soil isn't pushed out of the pots or foliage needlessly dampened. This purple wand is made by Dramm and also comes in other colors. A watering wand makes it easier to water hanging baskets and window boxes.

A watering wand is a must-have tool for keeping containers watered. They allow you to adjust the flow of the water so that soil isn’t pushed out of the pots or foliage needlessly dampened. This purple wand is made by Dramm and also comes in other colors. A watering wand makes it easier to water hanging baskets and window boxes.

There are wands with long or short handles, and adjustable hose heads without the pole as well.

There are wands with long or short handles, and adjustable hose heads without the pole as well.

Cape Cod Hydrangea Festival

As people all over Cape Cod begin touring gardens during the Cape Cod Hydrangea Festival, we thought it appropriate to post a few hydrangea facts this week. Here are a few facts and tips about Cape Cod’s favorite shrub:

  • There is a hydrangea for every garden! If you have a sunny yard, plant one of the Hydrangea paniculata varieties.  The blue and pink mopheads and lacecap flowers last longest when they are planted in part-shade. If you need a hydrangea that stays short there are many varieties in all colors that grow two to four feet tall.
  • It’s a myth that putting rusty nails or nickels around the plants will turn the flowers blue. Varieties that have variable color will be blue in acidic soils and pink in alkaline soils. If you have a blue hydrangea that has turned pink, it’s probably growing near a cement walkway, foundation, stone dusted patio or a lawn that’s been limed.
  • There is no way to make a blue/pink hydrangea short if it’s a tall-growing variety. No matter when you cut the plant back it will replace its growth in one summer…and you’ll have few to no flowers as well.  Download and print a sheet about how to prune mophead and lacecap hydrangeas here, but know that you should be pruning for appearance not to control size. If your plant is too large, move it in the fall or spring.
  • Fertilizer won’t make the stems of your plants stronger. Those large hydrangea flowers are heavy and will bend stems down, especially when they are wet. There are simple ways to stake a flopping hydrangea shrub without making the plant look like it’s in bondage. See a quick stake and twine method here.
  • Blue mophead flowers dry best when they are cut later in the season. Wait until that fresh blue changes to lavender and the petals look papery. Cut the flowers and either place them in a vase or hang upside down until they are dry.

    Hyannis Country Garden is the proud sponsor of this year's collectible Hydrangea Festival poster. Each year a local artist's work is chosen. This lovely painting is by Susan A. Hollis.

    Hyannis Country Garden is the proud sponsor of this year’s collectible Hydrangea Festival poster. Each year a local artist’s work is chosen. This lovely painting is by Susan A. Hollis.

Late June Veggie Garden Problems

Do you grow vegetables? If so, here are some situations you might be dealing with, their causes and the organic solutions.

Small Holes in Leaves
Cause: flea beetles
Solution: dust plants with diatomaceous earth, reapply after a rain. Usually two or three applications will be enough knock the beetles down to acceptable levels.

Shredded Leaves, Ragged Holes
Cause: earwigs
Solution: dust plants with diatomaceous earth, reapply after a rain. Usually two or three applications will be enough knock the earwigs down to acceptable levels.

Disappearing Seedlings
Cause: earwigs, slugs or bunnies
Solution: if your newly germinated seedlings are disappearing, they are being eaten. This is usually due to the critters listed above. Diatomaceous earth works for the earwigs and slugs, but if you suspect rabbit damage you’ll have to cover the planting areas with floating row cover or netting. Don’t worry – you can still replant various crops and they will catch up quickly once the sun comes out!

Brown Spots on Pepper Plants
Cause: leaf spot fungus
Solution: pick off leaves that are yellowing and spray plants with Serenade. Repeat this spray two or three times after seven days to protect newly growing leaves. Usually pepper plants grow out of leaf spot situations once the weather gets warmer and sunnier. It’s worse in damp, cool weather.

Tomatoes Not Growing Much
Cause: cool, damp weather
Solution: sunshine and heat! Hopefully the weather will get more summer-like in the next two weeks. Tomatoes like hot, sunny weather.  In the meantime, spray your tomato foliage with Serenade to discourage and suppress early blight, the fungal disease that is most common on the Cape.

Here are flea beetles (circled) and the damage on Broccoli Rabe. Flea beetles also love eggplant and chard, but can be seen on other crops as well.

Here are flea beetles (circled) and the damage on Broccoli Rabe. Flea beetles also love eggplant and chard, but can be seen on other crops as well.

Do you have a garden problem not covered here? Bring photos or bagged samples into the store and we’ll help you diagnose what’s going on and find a good solution.

June is Perennial Month

June is a month when gardeners and garden centers celebrate perennial plants. And there are so many to enjoy! Perennials are wonderful in the landscape because they come in all shapes, sizes and colors. But just as people come with assorted appearances and personalities, perennial plants do as well. The secret to having a good perennial garden is to choose the right plant for your location and needs.

Some perennials never have to be touched, while others require frequent editing, dividing, or other maintenance. A few perennials flower for a very short time while others stay in bloom for a month or more. There are plants that will live for years and others that are labeled “perennial” that only last a year or two in the garden. Finally, some perennials thrive in sunny locations but not in shade, and others have just the opposite requirements. In order to help you choose a plant that will do well for years on Cape Cod, we’ve prepared a list of great plants that you can download and print.

 

This photo shows one reason that people like lady's mantle. The leaves hold the drops of water and display them like diamonds on green velvet. The flowers on this perennial are also great for bouquets.

This photo shows one reason that people like lady’s mantle. The leaves hold the drops of water and display them like diamonds on green velvet. The flowers on this perennial are also great for bouquets. Note that this perennial can self-seed if the faded flowers aren’t removed before it goes to seed. This makes it a good ground cover plant in part-shade but those who don’t want to dig baby lady’s mantle plants out of their landscape should promptly deadhead the flower stems.

Need color in part-shade? Have we got some suggestions for you! Heuchera plants come with leaves of many colors.

Need color in part-shade? Have we got some suggestions for you! Heuchera plants come with leaves of many colors. The flowers range from white to coral, which is where their common name, coral bells, comes from.

There aren't many plants that flower in the winter, thrive in shade and have pretty green calyx that make the plants seem to be in flower for months afterwards. If you don't have hellebores, you must plant some!

There aren’t many plants that flower in the winter, thrive in shade and have pretty green calyx that make the plants seem to be in flower for months afterwards. If you don’t have hellebores, you must plant some!

Daylilies and Echinacea make the July garden come alive with color.

Daylilies and Echinacea make the July garden come alive with color. This garden has three different Echinacea varieties: Milkshake (white), Even Saul (coral to pink) and Guava Ice.  The blue flower is an annual, but this garden has such a range of perennials that there is always something coming into bloom.