Starting in the spring, we will be available for installations in western Massachusetts and the surrounding area, including southern Vermont. If you are considering making some changes to your landscape, this is the time to call. We are booked for early spring and are currently scheduling for late spring/early summer. Contact us for more information, and please spread the word!
If you haven't done it yet, it's time to clean up the yard before winter sets in here in New England.
While it is good to get the leaves off the lawn, we often go a little overboard with cleaning up at this time of year. Instead of cutting back your perennials, leave them standing so birds can continue to eat the seed pods into the winter. Leaving plants like black-eyed susans and ornamental grasses can help break the monotony of the winter landscape and add winter interest. As for the leaves, instead of ridding your garden beds entirely of them, rake them out, shred them with your mower, and add them back in to your beds! The tall perennial stalks that you've left standing will help keep the leaves corralled in the garden. If you follow these tips, the soil, your plants, and the wildlife that visits your yard will be happier and healthier through the winter and into the spring!
Fast growing vine that can reach 25 to 30 feet in height and 7 to 20 foot spread. Easily pruned and shapeable for a trellis or overhead pergola to produce shade. Native range is temperate eastern Asia and it is hardy to zone 3 and can tolerate climates in zone 8. Shoots can be vulnerable to frost in the spring. The vines need frost free 150 days of growing season. Not damaged by late freezes if the temperature changes are gradual so they can acclimate. Rapid freeze will kill off buds and split vines. Germination time from seed is about 1 month, but can be propagated from cuttings or grafted to an established rootstock.
Blooms small greenish white flowers in May. Fruits ripen in early fall and are the size of a grape or slightly larger. Fruits appear after the third year, but can take up to 5 years. Frost burned flowers will result in no fruit production in the remainder of the year. They are smooth skinned and taste like the true kiwi except slightly sweeter. Each vine can produce up to 100 pounds per year but average yield is about 50 pounds per vine. Size and yield are cultivar dependent. The fruit contains up to 5 times the vitamin C content of blackcurrants. The sap can be tapped and drank in the spring.
It should be grown in average, medium moisture, well drained soil in full sun to part shade. Can tolerate clay soils. If speed of growth is an issue, you can plant in slightly less fertile soils and maybe in some more shade, but for good flower production and fruiting stick with the ideal conditions.
Supposedly it is vulnerable to several botanical diseases including crown root rot which is most serious, botrytis rot, and blight. Also vulnerable to insect infestations including root knot nematodes, spider mites, and japanese beetles. Cats are attracted by the catnip like smell that is produced by the vines and can dig up the roots in search of the smell.
If you have a variety that needs a pollinator it can be useful to mark from early on which branches are male or female so that you don’t prune too much of the female off. This helps especially when it is older. Male pollinator can accomodate up to six females.Also, you can manipulate where the female goes so that it is easier to harvest come that time of year. Two prunings per year are recommended. Once in the winter back 8 or 10 buds and then also in the summer for longer shoots. Really pruning can be done whenever the growth is excessive to your needs.
- Jon K.
Nanking Cherry is native to Northern and Western China, Korea, and Mongolia. Zones 2 to 7. Deciduous shrub growing 6 to 10 feet high and somewhat wider. It has alternate leaves with irregular serrate margins that are pubescent above. Flowers have male and female parts and are pollinated by insects. Plant usually blooms 2-3 years after planting. Flowers bloom in april and are white or pink that open before the leaves appear or at the same time. Flowers are born on previous years growth. They prefer full sun to part shade. They reliably flower heavily. They produce a sweet cherry fruit that are slightly tart. The unripe fruits can be pickled and dye can be made from the leaves.
Has been long cultivated for various purposes. The fruit is edible, and is a good ingredient for juice, jam and wine, and in pickled vegetables and mushrooms. It can also be grown as an ornamental for it’s beautiful flowers and pruned for bonsai. It is used as a dwarf rootstock for other cherry varieties which is great. In the Midwest it is used in hedgerows to provide wind protection. Also can be used for erosion control and naturalized plantings. It attracts birds.
It likes well drained soil, can tolerate a variety of soil types and uses a moderate amount of water and requires little maintenance. It can tolerate drought. Prefers some lime in the soil but is likely to become chlorotic if too much is present. Thrives in hot summers and sheltered positions. Propagation from seed requires 2-3 months of stratification. It will sucker if the roots are damaged because they are shallow rooted. You can layer it in the spring and use cuttings for propagation as well. The seeds have a small amount of hydrocyanic acid or cyanide. Much like apple seeds or almonds. Said not to ingest or eat really bitter fruit or seeds because of this. Plants in this genus can be susceptible to honey fungus.
- Jon K.
As we move into an age of peak oil concerns and resource scarcity it is important to face these challenges with a positive acceptance and react with sound and well thought out decisions. The following piece is not meant to be a comprehensive description of permaculture, rather a primer describing some of the basic principles and design strategies relating to urban and suburban residential sites. It is a complicated and very far reaching discipline and this should only act as a guide for those who want to explore more. I have listed some texts at the end of the article to get you started.
First, lets briefly define permaculture. Permaculture is a design method and a set of skills for creating resilient human habitats and healthy ecosystems. It is modeled on natural patterns and addresses food production, shelter, energy, water, community, culture and health. Applying these principles to the way we organize ourselves in the landscape increases resilience in the face of energy, environmental, and economic uncertainty. It also presents us with one of our best opportunities to create healthy systems that continue indefinitely.
I feel another important definition to make clear is that of resilience. Resilience is the ability to weather challenges, shocks, and change without significant damage. This has varying scales ranging from personal and household to neighborhood and community. There is a massive amount of information loaded in all of these definitions but it’s important to know what we are working towards when we think about permaculture in designing our home gardens.
There are many strategies that can be used to achieve a highly functional, high yield, low input, beautiful garden. Here are just a few of the simple ones that can done by just about anyone.
Imagine yourself walking down your neighborhood street. Pears and apples are hanging down from the mature trees that cast shade on the area, cooling you from the summer heat. Small kiwi fruit hangs from a vine that is climbing up a Persimmon tree. On the ground is an assortment of herbs, native wildflowers, vegetables, and berry bushes. The ground smells rich and inviting because of the soil that has been built by this diverse and productive plant community. A neighbor comes out of to greet you and provides you with some vegetables that they grow specially in their garden, that you don’t have. Turns out you have a wonderful complimentary element and next thing you know, you are hosting a small get together with friends, family and maybe even some people you’ve only just met, eating food grown in YOUR neighborhood, in YOUR garden.
The paragraph above is something to leave you with that will hopefully paint a picture in your mind and change the way you think about your residential landscape. Every property no matter the size has the ability to be a catalyst for social interaction, education, and health. As permaculturalist Geoff Lawton puts it nicely; “you can solve all the world’s problems in a garden”
Gaia’s Garden by Toby Hemenway
Edible Forest Gardens Vol. 1 and 2 by Dave Jacke and Eric Toensmeier
Paradise Lot by Eric Toensmeier and Jonathan Bates
- Jon K.
Chances are if you've spent time outside this winter you've seen this bright plant showing off it's brilliant yellow flowers. The Common Witchhazel is native to Eastern and Central United States and is hardy to zone 4. It exists in the understory of deciduous forests and can reach up to 30' but in most cases only reaches about 15'. Generally it is the last woody plant to flower in the season and the bright flowers can start appearing as early as October. They thrive in full sun locations but will also tolerate partial shade as it is an understory plant of deciduous forests.
In the landscape it has many uses. It can be used in partially shady areas in the back of a garden to bring some color during the winter or as a hedge or woodland border. Because it prefers moist soils, it can also be used in rain gardens. It is important that the soil is also well drained so the plant does not suffocate. The Witchhazel is a traditional herb of the North American Indians who used it to treat wounds, tumors and eye problems through infusions and tinctures. It is VERY important to note that it should not be used long term because of a cancer risk and should not be used during pregnancy. Ingestion of 1g can cause nausea and vomiting. Needless to say, we don't recommend trying it, but it's fun to know!
- Jon K.