“‘Tis the last rose of summer, Left blooming alone;
All her lovely companions, Are faded and gone.”
Thomas Moore, The Last Rose of Summer, 1830
The most recent Drought Monitor shows scarce improvement for most of New England. The two inches of rain from the remnants of Hurricane Matthew fell mostly on towns south and east of Boston. But even there, the lone effect was to lessen the drought intensity from Extreme to “only” Severe. All of New England remains in the second year of an intensifying drought tied, according to many climatologists, to El Niño. We have not seen a drought this severe in nearly half a century. Please conserve water every way you can to keep groundwater and aquifer levels from being further depleted.
Setting the Space – Home for the Holidays
Setting the Space Staff
Date: Wed November 9
Time: 7:00 pm
Place: Norfolk Grange Hall, 28 Rockwood Road
Start your season of celebration. Setting the Space Staff will help you prep for the upcoming holidays. Their talented design staff will share unique centerpieces and other decorating ideas that will make your holiday celebrations special. They will also share great gift giving solutions that will make you a holiday hero.
Everyone (yes, members also) must have a pre-purchased ticket for this event as we hope to sell out our limited space. Tickets are $20. Contact Helena Drolette (508-816-7000) or Tricia Romanus (508-528-1432) and buy your ticket now before they are all gone.
Effects of the drought
No matter how bad your lawn looks after a summer of no precipitation and water bans, the grass will come back after the winter snows or even autumn rains. Unless serious rains return very soon, this is not the time to try to rehab your lawn. If your town allows limited watering, use that water on new plantings – and especially on trees and shrubs. Perennials don’t need water after they have died back and shut down for the winter, but trees and shrubs do. Their roots cannot take up water when the ground is frozen. They need to fill their trunk and branches with water before winter in order to survive the season’s drying winds. If we don’t get several inches of rainfall in October and November, it’s up to you to give them several big drinks. The best way is to place a hose into the tree’s well, allow it to fill with water, and then slowly soak into the ground. No well around your tree? Make one with compacted soil or mulch, or use a “tree gator”; a device that surrounds your tree and, after it is filled, allows the water to slowly seep in the root zone.
REGISTER YOUR GARDEN AS A POLLINATOR GARDEN
REGISTER your pollinator garden on the Million Pollinator Challenge. The garden planting must be completed and growing plants during the summer of 2016. To be eligible to be included, each garden would be required to have a majority of pollinator friendly plants.
Each garden club is required to report the following three things to the GCFM Awards Chairman:
- A listing of the sites by address of civic gardens planted with a majority of pollinator friendly plants maintained by the club. Gardens at any public site maintained by the club may qualify. Gardens may have been planted in prior years as long as maintained as part of an ongoing programs of the club. A group of containers serving one site, e.g. a public building, a park or an intersection shall be considered one garden.
- A listing by address of personal gardens planted with a majority of pollinator friendly plants and maintained at the member’s home. gardens may have been planted in prior years as long as maintenance is ongoing. A property with several gardens on the property of one member shall be counted as one garden.
- The gardens have been registered on the Million Pollinator Challenge website, a free, nonprofit effort to assist pollinators.
Digital photos should be taken of all gardens. They should not be included in the initial application, but be available to be sent online if the awards committee requests them.
The winner will be chosen by the awards committee after comparing the number of eligible gardens as a percentage of the number of the club’s members. For example, if a club has 50 members and 15 have pollinator friendly gardens plus the club maintains 3 pollinator friendly gardens, that club has a total of 18 gardens or 36% of the membership.
One garden club in each size category—small, medium and large as defined in the State Awards Handbook—will each receive a $100 award.
XERISCAPES – DROUGHT-TOLERANT GARDENS IN MASSACHUSETTS
Massachusetts Master Gardeners With such a wide variety of beautiful exotic plants being introduced every year why should you choose native plants?
A ‘xeric’ garden doesn’t mean sand and cactus for your yard. Rather, it means choosing common garden plants that are drought tolerant once established, using more New England natives and designing your garden to minimize the need for water.
Let’s start with bulbs. What would spring be without daffodils or hyacinths? These hardy flowers from Turkey need water in the fall and spring (when it usually rains in New England), but are unaffected by all but the very driest summers. Established astilbes and hostas thrive throughout the summer in dry shade and only prolonged drought will stop summer bloomers such as black-eyed susans or yarrow. Clethra bushes provide beauty throughout the growing season be it wet or dry, and trees such as spruce and ash once established in a site can withstand even the driest years.
So what makes a xeric garden different from what you may already have? Probably very little. There are some plants that are just thirsty. If you are looking to reduce your water use, you probably will want to reduce the number of plants which need lots of water throughout the growing season. Plant trees that will provide shade for plants that don’t demand full sun, reducing their water needs, and perhaps cooling your home through the summer as well. Place plants with similar water needs together so when you do water, you can water just as much as each area needs.
Add compost to the soil when planting; it holds water without becoming soggy. Keep beds cool and moist with two to three inches of mulch (more than this amount will not allow the water to percolate down to the soil, less will allow water to evaporate out). Weed frequently so that as plants become established they don’t have to face competition for water.
Lawns are non-native plants that demand large quantities of water when rainfall is at its lowest. Reducing the size of your lawn, watering it less frequently, and over seeding with less water-dependent mixtures are all water saving strategies.
When you do water or irrigate, do it efficiently. Water early in the morning (before 9 a.m.) or after 8 p.m. Watering in mid-day can cause you to lose half your water to evaporation. Avoid automatic sprinklers but, if you must use them, shut them off during rain or after substantial showers. Make certain you are watering your yard and not your driveway, sidewalk or street.
Your xeric garden will be as bright and beautiful as any other. The secret is that it will save you water, money and work. And isn’t that something we all want in our gardens? And remember: New England natives evolved in this climate and often offer low maintenance and deer resistance while being tolerant our climates extremes.