Welcome to Weston Nurseries
Oh, so you thought you were going to sleep in Saturday morning and lay low in the blistering heat this weekend? NOPE!
As you can see from the pale blue swaths across the area on this NOAA precipitation report, we've had negligible rainfall over the past week and we're now entering a straight-up drought. With no relief for your thirsty plants in sight, it's now up to you, intrepid plant stewards, to get yourself up early in the morning and water your gardens.
It's not that terrible though: while the rest of the neighborhood sleeps, make the most of these rare and lovely summer mornings. Treat yourself an iced beverage, put on your flipflops and a floppy sun hat, fill up the watering cans and haul some hoses, wiggle your toes in the grass, and listen to the morning birdsong. Your plants will really appreciate the effort!
Hydrangea macrophylla, or Mophead Hydrangea, are the stalwart showstoppers of the summer garden. Nowadays you'll find them in pink, blue, white, lavender, and even lime green! One of our favorites is Endless Summer, which keeps popping out blooms all through the sultry days of July and August.
But what if your hydrangea is apparently a dud? There are a couple of possible reasons your macrophylla might be holding out on you.
One of the most common reasons we see mopheads refuse to bloom is because a well meaning gardener pruned them incorrectly. We know how it goes: you couldn't stand looking at those bare stalks this past winter and so you cut them sometime between November & June. The thing is, Macrophylla bud and bloom on that old growth, and if you snipped them off or damaged the ends of the stalks you may have also nixed all the flowers for the year. Just hold out til early summer next year and you'll see them come back.
Another reason for the lack of blooms is climate. Mother Nature decided to be a minx this year, and sent us a late Spring freeze that nipped all those emerging buds right back. Remember that bizarrely mild "Winter" we had? This was followed by a late freeze that hit just as all the buds were emerging. It was pretty devastating for most of the early Spring buds and bloomers (you may recall that the forsythia and cherry blossoms took a hit, too), and in the case of our dear Hydrangea the fragile new growth on those old stalks were zapped. You'll notice that new growth is coming in from the base of the plant. They'll be back to full glory in a year or so, with some kinder weather and TLC. In the meantime break the rule in #1 and go ahead and trim back any old stalks that haven't budded by now. Here's how.
Would you like to learn more about caring for your hydrangeas? Here's a fantastic resource from Proven Winners that covers all the basics.
Looking out your window these past few hot July days, you may have noticed an abundance of moths fluttering in the air. These are male adult gypsy moths, who busily munching away the foliage on all of our trees and causing caterpillar mayhem only a week or so ago. Now they've already pupated and are on the wing, hunting for females to mate with.
Adult moths don't eat, so your plants are safe from them for now. The female gypsy moths are flightless, and will soon be emerging near the bases of your trees, getting ready to crawl upwards and lay their eggs. The egg sacs look like woolly beige masses, usually about an inch in length, and can be found in a variety of semi-sheltered places where they overwinter before hatching. Check tree trunks, rock piles, shingles, patio furniture, fences, and firewood stacks. Unlike Winter Moth eggs, which are usually concealed in hidden crevices, Gypsy Moth eggs are fairly obvious..... which makes them easier to find and destroy!
Attempting to spray or kill the adult male moths is an exercise in futility; you'll never nail them midair and there are just too many. You'll also risk endangering many beneficial insects if you start spraying pesticides everywhere. Hold off on traps, since they really only attract more moths to your yard, and who needs that? Instead, we shall strategize: the idea here is to go after the ladies and their egg sacs, and make a big dent in their population before the next generation hatches out in April and starts the terrible cycle again.
First, identify the locations where female moths will likely congregate, usually near the bases of affected trees. You can judiciously apply a contact insecticide in those areas, or pick off all the females one by one and drop them in a bucket of soapy water. Then keep an eye out for egg sacs over the next 6 months, and when you find them, saturate the area with horticultural oil and/or scrape them off the bark and destroy them. Think about all the trees they have harmed this summer - this is your revenge!
The best defense against Gypsy Moth is to proactively maintain good growing conditions and a well-rounded ecosystem that provides food and shelter for their natural predators, including birds and small animals. Most importantly, pay extra care and attention to any trees or plants that have been damaged by Gypsy Moths. A defoliated tree is not a dead tree, and there is still hope if you act now. Give damaged trees extra water and a dose of fertilizer, and prune judiciously to encourage fresh growth.
If you have any questions or need assistance, our Garden Center staff can direct you with advice or recommendations from our wide selection of problem-solver products. Just ask!
It's no secret that gardeners love rain, because it means a little less work and worry over our plants. This morning we had a nice rain shower and all of us here at Weston put on our galoshes and breathed a sigh of relief. Soon enough, however, the sun came back out again. With the humidity and building atmospheric pressure there's a chance we might get some thundershowers this afternoon and later this week, but even that kind of downpour is usually fleeting, and usually trickles off before the soil can get a good soaking.
As you can see from the NOAA precipitation map above we really haven't gotten that much rain in the past 7 days, only about 1/4 to 3/4 of an inch for most of Middlesex County. Remember that plants- especially annuals and newly planted trees, shrubs & perennials, need an inch or more of H2O every week, so you're going to need to haul out the hoses soon and give your garden a good drink today or tomorrow.