Thursday, December 9, 2010

Blue Jays

Ever since I was a little girl, Blue Jays have been one of my favorite birds. As a young child, their coloring and crest make them easily identifiable and pleasant to watch. Unfortunately, most people speak only of the Jay's hostility and aggressive tendencies.

Yes, it's true. Blue Jays are known to raid the nests of other birds and even throw their weight around at the bird feeder. That's how nature stays in balance, right. Blue Jays use their size to maintain dominance over smaller birds, while being watchful of their own predators. Interestingly, a study quelled those beliefs when it found that .01% (6 out of 530) of Blue Jay stomach's contained any evidence of eggs of nestlings.

Now that we've cleared the reputation of Blue Jays just a bit, check out these fascinating Blue Jay facts:

A Blue Jay's crest can reveal it's mood.
When the crest stands proudly, the bird is either feeling stressed or aggressive. They are aptly named. Their scientific name Cyanocitta cristata comes from Greek and Latin meaning: crested, blue chattering bird.

Sing a Song...
Blue Jays make a large variety of noises and calls. They can mimic everything from a squirrel to a squeaky door.

Sing it Loud...
Some of their kin are similarly noisy members of the Corvidae family: crows, magpies and ravens. The Corvidae family has been found in fossils more than 25 million years old.

Sing it Strong...
Blue Jays have strong family ties that contribute to their complex social system. You may hear them scream at predators as they chase them out of the area.

Make it Simple...

When Blue Jays are laying low, they sing a quiet little song.

Similarities to Chipmunks and Squirrels?
Blue Jays love acorns. While chipmunks and squirrels carry nuts in their cheeks, Blue Jays carry their acorns via a pouch in their throat. Like the other critters, they tuck their nuts away for later. Given that each Blue Jay hides approximately 3,000 nuts each fall, and don't collect most of them, Blue Jays have been credited with the growth of oak forests since the last glacial period.

To Last Your Whole Life Long...
Blue Jays can live up to 15 years, and they mate for life.
Native to eastern and central North America, Blue Jays are often seen in pairs or in small family flocks.

Sing of Happy...
The jays' bright blue color comes from light refraction caused by the structure of the feathers, not from blue pigment.

Let the World Sing Along...
Many mysteries surround Blue Jays. Each year thousands of Blue Jay flocks migrate the Atlantic Coast and Great Lakes. Sometimes they migrate north and sometimes south.

Just Sing, Sing a Song.
If you'd like to lure them to your yard, provide them with their favorite food: acorns.
Blue Jays prefer to eat from either tray or hopper feeders rather than hanging feeders. They also enjoy peanuts, suet and sunflower seeds, as well as a drink from a bird bath. They also eat small insects like caterpillars, grasshoppers, and beetles.

Oddly, Blue Jays have been caught pecking paint off homes in the Northeast.
Paints have been made with calcium carbonate or limestone, as an extender pigment for hundreds of years. Blue Jays have figured out that this source of calcium is satisfying. Most birds only consume extra calcium during breeding season. It is known that soils in the Northeast are lower in calcium than other regions. Should your home become a tasty source of calcium, you can provide them with another source of calcium.

How to Provide Eggshells Safely

Unsterilized eggshells may contain harmful Salmonella bacteria. Before providing eggshells, boil them for 10 minutes or heat them in the oven for 20 minutes at 250° F. Let the eggshells cool, then crush them into pieces smaller than a dime. Offer the eggshells in a dish or on a low platform feeder.

Blue Jays sometimes rub ants on their wings.
Known as "anting", while they spread a secretion from ants onto their wings, they often lose their balance and fall over. Theories propose that Blue Jays do this as a way of "cleaning" their feathers or soothing skin irritated by molting, or to repel parasites.

Cornell University has two interesting opportunities for you. Keep track of the Blue Jays at your feeder with Project FeederWatch, or look for Blue Jay nests and contribute valuable data about them through NestWatch.


Patuxent Wildlife Research Center longevity records:

"I sometimes think we expect too much of Christmas Day.

We try to crowd into it the long arrears of kindliness

and humanity of the whole year.

As for me, I like to take my Christmas a little at a time,

all through the year.

And thus I drift along into the holidays-

-let them overtake me unexpectedly-

-waking up some fine morning and suddenly saying to myself:

'Why this is Christmas Day!' "

~ Ray Stannard Baker, pseud. David Grayson (1870-1946),

American author, journalist

Short Story of a Gardener's Winter Woes:

While visiting a dear friend last month, she paused at her kitchen sink and pointed out the window at the few fading leaves left on her maple and birch trees.

She sadly shared her dread of the coming of their stark winter silhouettes. I could see where she had cleared the droopy annuals from her neat garden borders and clipped back her perennials, exposing a barren expanse of fading mulch.

How then, can she (and the rest of us, too) add brightness and color to these cold, short days? Until the ground thaws in spring, most of us will focus inside our homes. Indoors we can give extra attention to our houseplants and occasionally bring home a bright bouquet.

Outside the ground is past planting, but it's never too early to start planning... to add some winter variety to our landscapes. Click here for information we shared last year about plants that add some interest to the often barren winter landscape.

by Renee Brannigan

Gift Cards

The Promise of Spring is yours to Give!

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Woodbridge Gift Cards available anytime 24/7.

Buy them at our website or call 647-0630.
A perfect gift for birthdays and the upcoming holidays

"It is the personal thoughtfulness,

the warm human awareness,
the reaching out of the self to one's fellow man
that makes giving worthy of the Christmas spirit."

~ Isabel Currier, Author

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

May the Good Things of Life
Be Yours In Abundance,
Not only at Thanksgiving,
But throughout the coming year.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

"November comes
And November goes,
With the last red berries
And the first white snows.
With night coming early,
And dawn coming late,
And ice in the bucket
And frost by the gate.
The fires burn
And the kettles sing,
And earth sinks to rest
Until next spring."

- Elizabeth Coatsworth

Jack Frost...nipping at your plants?

It happened while I was writing this article. Our local meteorologists forecast nighttime temperatures low enough to nip at the tender flowers and greens in our gardens...and this time, they were correct.

As always, researching this article has uncovered some good information about frost and how to best protect plants.

A bit about frost:
Unless your yard is perfectly level (lucky you), you may have noticed that frost will visit some areas of your property more (or less) than others. Since cold air is heavier than warmer air, the cold air will settle in low lying areas, such as at the bottom of an incline. Pockets of this colder air will sink down until it settles into a depression or hollow. Since it then stops moving, it may cause frost damage on plants. Other factors affecting frost are your house/garage, protective trees,

Although we don't have such high altitudes in Northern Rhode Island, in your travels you may have noticed that higher altitudes, with thinner air, experience colder temperatures which makes those areas prone to frost.

Frost protection tips to protect your precious plants:

  • Water before an expected frost. Moist soil retains the heat of the day better
    than dry soil.
  • Cover plants with burlap or cloth...never use plastic.
  • Other coverings that work well include inverted buckets, cardboard boxes, paper
    bags and even newspapers.
  • Don't let coverings get your plants down. Use stakes to support the weight of the covering. Know that wherever a plant touches the covering, it is less protected.
  • Keep your wraps in place. Lightweight coverings should be weighted down with rocks so they don't blow away.
  • Potted plants are particularly susceptible to the cold since there is little soil protecting their roots from freezing temperatures.
  • House plants and tropical plants should be brought into your home for the winter or you can bury the pot in the soil and cover the foliage with burlap. 
  • Annuals and other flowering plants can be saved by covering them before dusk. After the sun sets, the temperature in your garden drop quickly.
  • Covers must be removed from plants in the morning, before the sun hits them. Otherwise, your plants may overheat as the daytime temperatures rise.
  • To warm up your plants, water them just before sunrise when the temperature dips to 32 degrees or colder. Water won't help once the damage has occurred.
  • Have you seen chemical sprays to protect plants from frost? There is no commercial product that really works.
  • Tomatoes are extremely sensitive to frost. Pick all the tomatoes that are in the late stage of green, just prior to ripening. Store them in a single layer, not crowded, in a dark room that is warmer than 55 degrees. They will ripen, but won't have the amazing flavor of vine-ripened tomatoes.

Of course, these are temporary measures. Eventually the temperatures will get so cold, our plants will succumb despite our best efforts. Personally, the longer I can hold onto growing season, the happier I am.

Resources: (Compiled by Eric de Long Chemung 9/01, References: Reiners, Stephen. Preventing Damage from an Early Frost. Cornell University Consumer News Service. September, 2001. Anonymous. Understanding Frost. Cornell Cooperative Extension of Albany County fact sheet. 1995.)

The door was shut, as doors should be,
Before you went to bed last night;
Yet Jack Frost has got in, you see,
And left your window silver white.

He must have waited till you slept;
And not a single word he spoke,
But pencilled o'er the panes and crept
Away again before you woke.

And now you cannot see the hills
Nor fields that stretch beyond the lane;
But there are fairer things than these
His fingers traced on every pane.

- Excerpt from Jack Frost, by Gabriel Setoun

Apple Pumpkin Muffins

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup canned or cooked pumpkin
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 cups finely chopped peeled apples
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 teaspoons cold butter or margarine

  1. In a bowl, combine the first five ingredients.
  2. In another bowl, combine the eggs, pumpkin and oil; stir into dry ingredients just until moistened.
  3. Fold in apples.
  4. Fill paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full.
  5. In a small bowl, combine sugar, flour and cinnamon. Cut in butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over batter.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown.
  7. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Frost looked forth one still, clear night,
And whispered, "Now I shall be out of sight;
So, through the valley, and over the height,
In silence I'll take my way.
I will not go on like that blustering train,
The wind and the snow, the hail and the rain,
That make such a bustle and noise in vain,
But I'll be as busy as they!"
So he flew to the mountain, and powdered its crest;
He lit on the trees, and their boughs he drest
With diamonds and pearls; and over the breast
Of the quivering lake he spread
A coat of mail, that it need not fear
The downward point of many a spear
That he hung on its margin, far and near,
Where a rock could rear its head.

- Excerpt from "Jack Frost" by Hannah F. Gould.
Gift Cards available anytime 24/7.
Woodbridge Greenhouses Gift Cards

Buy them at our website or call 647-0630.
A perfect gift for birthdays and the upcoming holidays.
"The name 'November' is believed to derive from
'novem' which is the Latin for the number 'nine'.
In the ancient Roman calendar,
November was the ninth month after March.
As part of the seasonal calendar November
is the time of the 'Snow Moon'
according to Pagan beliefs and
the period described as the 'Moon of the Falling Leaves' by Black Elk."

Thursday, October 7, 2010

October gave a party;
The leaves by hundreds came -
The Chestnuts, Oaks, and Maples,
And leaves of every name.
The Sunshine spread a carpet,
And everything was grand,
Miss Weather led the dancing,
Professor Wind the band.
~George Cooper, "October's Party"
End of Season Clearance Sale

30% OFF Trees, Shrubs, Perennials, and Herbs

October 9th - October 17th

We will be closed Monday October 11th.

"Late Fall in the Perennial Garden" By Dr. Leonard Perry

After reading this article, we wanted to share it with you, so we can all 'try" to properly bed-down our gardens for the winter.

Late Fall in the Perennial Garden

By Dr. Leonard Perry,
Extension Professor, University of Vermont

If you're like me and haven't quite got your perennial garden in top shape, fall is a great time to catch up and have it ready for rapid spring growth. Fall is more leisurely, it is more cooling working outside, weeds don't grow back, and you can go into winter feeling a sense of order and accomplishment.

Here are 10 activities I "try" to get to each fall:

1. Cutting back. I used to leave perennials until spring so their leaves and stems would recycle nutrients back into the soil, as well as providing seeds for birds in fall. There never seems enough time in spring, though, so I have begun cleaning up and cutting back in the fall. I still leave ornamental grasses and plants with attractive seed heads. This way I have some fall effect, yet less cutting back in spring.

2. Checking labels.I like to keep track of what I planted, and over time labels seem to drift around, the writing wears off, or plastic labels break when exposed to sunlight. As a famous garden writer once said, the only thing worse than a plant without a label is a label without a plant. For large markers, what I've found work best are the soft aluminum labels you write on and make an impression. Even if the ink fades, the impression remains to identify the plant. Plastic labels, which require replacing yearly or as they become brittle in sunlight, work well. Best is to write on them with pencil (which often holds up better than "permanent" markers).

3. Planting spring bulbs. Ideally spring-flowering bulbs should be planted in late-September through October in the north. But if they aren't in the ground yet, better to plant late than wait or not plant at all.

4. Caging tall plants. If you have tall perennials, an effective method of staking is to make a cage of wide mesh fence to place around them. During the slower fall months when you're not busy mowing and weeding, make some of these up and place on taller plants once you cut them back. If in a windy area, you may also have to put in a stake with the cage to hold it in place. You may have a couple of different sizes for different height perennials. Plants will then grow up through the cage next spring, often hiding it entirely.

5. Soil testing and amending.It is a good idea to test your soil every year or two, amending it with lime and nutrients as needed. Kits are available from many garden stores and your local Extension office. Lime is important to adjust the soil pH, raising it when too low or acid. Without the proper soil pH nutrients wont be as available, and plants wont grow as well. As lime is slow acting, fall is a great time to add it if needed, so it can improve the soil by spring.

6. Adding compost. A soil amendment you really can't have too much of is compost. It adds some nutrients, improves soil structure, and helps soil microorganisms that help plants. I like to add a shovel full or two around perennials once cut back in the fall so it too can act over winter, working into the soil. If buying compost, make sure it is from a reputable source and weed free.

7. Rodent and animal prevention.Rodents such as voles or field mice are looking for winter homes this time of year and getting set up. Cutting back perennials and disposing of the stems (such as composting), keeping grassy areas mowed, and traps are all effective deterrents. For voles, an effective trap is to bait an inexpensive spring trap with peanut butter, placing it by an entry hole to their burrow, and then placing a pot over the hole to trap. This way they think they're still in the burrow and come for the bait. If planting bulbs such as tulips that squirrels and chipmunks love to dig up, place wire mesh on top of the bed. Avoid bone meal (attracts skunks which dig but don't eat bulbs), using another source of phosphorus such as rock phosphate (organic) or superphosphate instead. Covering the bed with sharp stones or shells helps prevent digging too.

8. Dividing peonies.Wait to spring to divide most perennials when they are beginning active growth, but divide peonies most any time in the fall. Keep in mind they may not bloom the following spring while they are getting new roots and growth.

9. Edging beds.Having a neatly edged bed does more than just keep surrounding grass from growing into it. A neat edge provides a sense of satisfaction, beauty, and for a "wild" bed that is natural or just out of control, indicates there is a bed there and a purpose.

10. Storing tools and chemicals. Use a brush and water to scrub your tools, then wipe with a light coating or spray of oil (such as cooking oil). Many use a 5-gallon bucket filled with sand and a quart of motor oil. After using tools, scrape and rinse the heaviest dirt off, then push the tools in and out of the sand mixture a few times. The sand helps remove other dirt, the oil helps prevent rust.

Don't forget to sharpen hoes and cutting tools such as pruners. Sharpening stones or power grinders and sharpeners are available at complete garden and hardware stores.

Don't forget to disconnect and drain garden hoses on a warm day before they freeze solid for winter. The same applies to sprayers. Otherwise you may have openings in the spring not just at the ends!

If you have chemicals, especially liquids, in an outdoor shed or unheated area, make sure they get stored in a non-freezing place over winter.
Everyone must take time to sit

and watch the leaves turn.

~ Elizabeth Lawrence

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Time to Plant Bulbs...Garlic, that is!

Once you've tidied up your garden beds for the winter, make time for one more task: Planting bulbs. There is nothing like spring flowers and summer garlic. Yes, plant some garlic bulbs now for more flavorful cooking next summer.

Garlic is more than just a versatile, indispensable kitchen seasoning. Garlic has many health benefits that include antioxidant properties, promoting the health of the heart and immune systems. Garlic even has been shown to reduce cholesterol.

As a companion, garlic is super. Garlic (along with other “fragrant” crops like onions, chives, and some herbs) repel insects or mask the scents of tasty crops that attract insects. Planting garlic among your other crops may well deter pesky pests from your vegetables. Planted at the base of peach trees, it repels borers.

Garlic (Allium sativum) is a hardy, perennial member of the onion family. Unlike onions, garlic plants produce a number of small bulbs called cloves rather than one large bulb containing multiple layers.

Beneath garlic's papery-thin, white skin are a dozen or so cloves. The larger outer cloves produce the best garlic.

Variety...the spice of life and Garlic comes in dozens of varieties. They fall into three major categories:

(great-headed) garlic has a mild flavor, somewhat like garlic and onions together. The large bulb has few cloves.
  • Mild-flavored, cold-hardy stiffneck varieties, with cloves surrounding a thick central stem that curls as it grows. Stiffneck varieties don't store as well as others.
  • For garlic you can braid for storage, choose a softneck variety. The "necks" stay soft once harvested which allows for braiding.
Don't plant bulbs from the garlic you buy at the grocers. Some is treated so that it won't sprout, and you won't know what variety it is.

Timing is key: Garlic should be planted before the ground freezes. It won't take long for the cloves to begin establishing roots and sending out shoots before the ground freezes. The winter cold is needed for bulbing (formation of side buds) the following year that will grow to make the new cloves you'll harvest next summer.
Location, Location, Location... Garlic enjoys basking in the sun. Choose a spot that has not grown onions in the past few years. Plant in well-drained, weed-free soil, such as a raised bed in slightly dry soil.
A Few Do's and Don'ts:

  • Do plant only the healthiest garlic cloves. The larger the cloves, the larger the bulbs next year.
  • Do not divide the bulbs into cloves until you are ready to plant them.
  • Do keep the papery husks on the cloves.
Plant the cloves three to five inches apart and about an inch deep in an upright position (clove root down) to ensure a straight neck.
For every pound of garlic cloves that you plant, you may yield from 8 to 10 pounds of garlic next summer.
Mulch It! Garlic appreciates a 6” thick, warm blanket of straw mulch applied around Thanksgiving. Remove the mulch in the spring, leaving just a bit to keep the weeds down.
Water to keep your garlic from drying out over the winter. In the spring, remove the mulch. Water deeply as needed, especially on sandy soils. Apply an inch or so of compost around the bulbs.
Garlic greens, known as “scapes” are a bit spicy and a nice addition when cooking vegetables. Clip those any time to direct more of the plant's energy down towards the bulb.
Begin checking your garlic after July 4th when you notice that the foliage is beginning to die off. Once the foliage beging to die back, check a bulb. If it's too soon, the cloves won't be segmented yet. If you wait too long, your garlic with shed the papery sheaths that cover the clove segments and they won't store properly. Ideal harvest is when you find about 3 layers covering the bulb.
Dig out under the bulbs for an easier harvest. Pull the entire plant out of the soil and let air-dry in the shade to avoid direct sunlight which may scald the bulbs. Dry thoroughly for 3 to 4 weeks to prolong storage.
Storage: Once your garlic is dry, dust any remaining soil off the bulbs. If you grew softneck garlic, braid the tops and hang. Otherwise, remove the tops by clipping them about 1 inch above the bulb. Trim off the roots.

Ideal conditions are a cool (50 to 65 degrees F), dry, and well-ventilated area. Check your garlic monthly and discard any soft bulbs that may be rotting internally. Set aside the largest cloves for planting again in fall.
If you've never planted garlic before, try planting some this year. ...and remember, when on a date, two servings of garlic cancel each other out! (If you're the only one enjoying a garlicky dish, munch on some parsley to freshen your breath.)

Companion plants:
RI Vegetable Planting Calendar:
Garlic for Disease Control:

End of Season Clearance Sale

End of Season Clearance Sale

30% OFF
Trees, Shrubs,
Perennials, and Herbs

October 9th - October 17th
We will be closed Monday October 11th.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

September Design Challenge:
September 17th from 1pm - 3pm
Woodbridge Greenhouses is hosting:

"A Design Challenge with Tysh McGrail"
Talented and Energetic Landscape Designer

Bring in your questions, photos, and ideas.
You'll get FREE advice from Tysh
regarding the space you would like to enhance.
FYI: A beautifully landscaped yard adds 10% to your property value.

Chipmunks: Pesky Pests or Cute Critters?

Have you also noticed more than the usual number of chipmunks running along the old stone walls lately? Granted, chipmunks look cute romping through the woods. Many campers have encountered chipmunks that will climb into your hand for a little snack. Once their paths cross ours, though, it can be a much different story.
To restore a peaceful relationship with chipmunks, it comes down to food and shelter. You will need to cut off their food supply and block their access to your shelter.


Weighing four ounces or less, these petite cousins to squirrels hoard food, collecting and storing much more than they can eat in a season. Chipmunks see our bird feeders, compost piles, fruit trees and pet food dishes as all-you-can eat-buffets.

Don't even think of poisoning them: It is illegal; and they'll most likely store the poisoned food, which may eventually poison other types of critters.

Most of the damage they cause in gardens is in their pursuit of your tasty bulbs. Keeping Chipmunks out of your garden is tricky. Unlike some pests, there aren't any plants they dislike so much that they won't walk past. Ditto for mothballs (which may cause cancer in people and pets).

One home remedy to try is spraying the area around your bulbs with a potent spray. Combine pureed garlic and hot peppers. Steeped them in hot soapy water. Strain this mixture into a spray bottly and spray the plants they are most attracted to: bulbs and root crops. Reapply after heavy rains. Other likely repellents are castor oil, predator urine and ammonium soap.


Measuring four inches or less (tail included), they are small enough to fit in places we have trouble finding. Their den (of destruction) can be identified by a hole dug straight down that measure approximately 2" in diameter, unless you are lucky enough to have stone walls where they prefer to live.

If you suspect damage to your home from chipmunks, carefully examine the foundation of your home. Wherever you find a space, gap or crevice, cover the hole with newspaper. If the newspaper stays intact for five days, you have found their entrance point. You have just gained the upper hand and can block their entrance (seal small spaces with caulk, cover vents with screen, etc.)

Consider providing them with a shelter of their own: a stone wall (pile) far away from your home and delicious garden.


Have a heart and use a trap...well there are two kinds of traps. Known as a "Have a Heart" the kinder trap catches the critters so you can release them in a more suitable location. The other kind, is not as kindhearted...

Death Knell

Personally, I have a soft spot for the striped little critters, so I don't sanction this method. But I will relay it in hopes that it will be used in only the most desperate of situations. Our neighbors eliminated their mouse and chipmunk problems with a home-made trap made from a five-gallon bucket filled halfway with water. They then sprinkled birdseed on top to cover the water. The chipmunks reach for the seeds, fall into the unseen water below, and drown. The neighbors swear that they "caught" over 20 within a week. Certainly not for me.

The official word from the DEM website: Note: Chipmunks are not considered "furbearers".
"In Rhode Island, state law (RIGL 20-16-2
) allows a property owner to kill, by legal means, any furbearer (as defined in RIGL 20-16-1) that is killing or attempting to kill any livestock or domestic animals, destroying crops, creating a health hazard, or causing economic damage to their property. However, the law does not allow for the random taking of wildlife, for the taking of furbearers for their pelts outside the open season, or for killing of animals outside the boundaries of the property of the person with the problem. Also, it does not allow for unlawful methods of take such as poisons, snares, foothold traps, or discharge of firearms in violation of state or local ordinances. The law states that animals taken must be reported to the DEM within 24 hours.

The DEM does not recommend that property owners attempt to live trap nuisance furbearers unless they are prepared or willing to euthanize the offending animal. State regulations prohibit the live capture and translocation of furbearers. Captured furbearers can only legally be released on the property on which they were captured. (Capturing a wild animal ...and releasing it in another location is prohibited in Rhode Island. Regulations adopted by the Department of Environmental Management prohibit the translocation of "protected furbearers" (raccoon, opossum, skunk, gray squirrel, rabbits, woodchuck, muskrat, beaver, weasels, fisher, mink, red and gray fox, coyote, river otter, and bobcat ).

FYI: DEM does not remove or relocate nuisance wildlife. Nuisance Wildlife Control Specialists are professionals licensed by the DEM, who for a fee provide wildlife control services.

Invite an Owl...

Natural predators, such as owls, may be enticed to your yard if you provide them with a home. Owls feed on small rodents like chipmunks. Not only will the owl take care of chipmunk control, but will also control voles, moles, mice and rats. (Some house cats are quite capable at controlling Chipmunk populations.)

Try something stinky...or a good hunter.
At our house, we prefer the potent garlic spray. It also keeps mosquitoes and ticks at bay. Of course, our cat does her share to help keep them in check. Good luck!
"By all these lovely tokens

September days are here,

With summer's best of weather

And autumn's best of cheer."

- Helen Hunt Jackson, September, 1830-1885

Lettuce: A Delicious & Nutritious Fall Crop

Warm soil and cool nights are perfect for cool-weather crops. The easiest to grow is lettuce. With a late frost and a little luck, you can be enjoying garden-fresh produce for another few months.

The benefits of planting lettuce and other cool-weather crops are numerous. Fall cool weather crops are delicious and nutritious. Filling the empty rows in your garden with fall crops will greatly reduce the number of weeds that will grow. Their lovely shades of greens and reds will refresh your garden.

About an hour or so before you plan to transplant your seedlings, water them well.

Prepare your soil by removing spent plants and weeds. Loosen the soil for the tender roots and work in some topsoil and fertilizer that we sell at Woodbridge Greenhouses. It is highly recommended to give your little lettuce plants a wonderful boost.

TIP: Try to transplant your lettuce seedlings on an overcast day or late in the afternoon to protect them from the hot sun.

Plant them around 6 inches apart and as deep as they were in the container. Firm the soil around them so they will stand tall, even when watered. Finally, gently water the plants thoroughly. Keep their soil moist. Young seedlings may need to be watered more often during the first week or two of growth. If the sun seems particularly strong, your young transplants may benefit from light shade for the first few days until their new roots become established.

No room in your garden? You'll be happy to know that lettuce also grows well in containers and window boxes. We recommend using a soil-less mix for best results.

To prolong your garden even longers, protect your plants from frost and cold temps with a cold frame or a simple cover of a light fabric to keep the frost off your precious plants. Protect whatever plants are still producing fruit from frost to keep reaping delicious veggies as long as possible.

Want to plant more? In addition to lettuce, other great cool-weather crops are other leafy greens like spinach and root crops, plus plants in the cabbage family.

Stop by Woodbridge and get to planting your fall crop of lettuce now in this superb gardening weather. We have plenty of young lettuce seedlings tucked in between a great variety of perennials, shrubs and trees at Woodbridge Greenhouses to give you a head start.TIP: This is GREAT weather for planting Hydrangeas!!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

"But now in September the garden has cooled,

and with it my possessiveness.

The sun warms my back instead of beating on my head ...

The harvest has dwindled, and

I have grown apart from

the intense midsummer relationship that brought it on."

- Robert Finch

Share your Bounty
Woodbridge Greenhouses, inspired by "Plant a Row for the Hungry", is collecting donations of extra garden produce. We deliver it to the Trinity Episcopal Church Food Closet*. Woodbridge is open every day from 9 to 5 to accept donations. We hope you will share your bounty with those in need.
"Plant a Row for the Hungry" was created in 1995 by the Garden Writers Association and the GWA Foundation. Garden writers are asked to encourage their readers and/or listeners to plant an extra row of produce each year and donate their surplus to local food banks, soup kitchens and service organizations to help feed America's hungry.
*The Trinity Food Closet is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 to 11am and is located at 251 Danielson Pike in Scituate. This pantry provides food to up to 70 local families monthly. The need for food is always great.
"Equal dark, equal light
Flow in Circle, deep insight
Blessed Be, Blessed Be
The transformation of energy!
So it flows, out it goes
Three-fold back it shall be
Blessed Be, Blessed Be
The transformation of energy!"

- Night An'Fey, Transformation of Energy
September Design Challenge:
September 17th from 1pm - 3pm
Woodbridge Greenhouses is hosting:

"A Design Challenge with Tysh McGrail"
Talented and Energetic Landscape Designer

Bring in your questions, photos, and ideas.
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FYI: A beautifully landscaped yard adds 10% to your property value.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

"What dreadful hot weather we have!

It keeps me in a continual state of inelegance."

- Jane Austen

When you reap more than you can eat, share, can, or freeze...

When your green thumb garners more produce than you can handle, bring it here to Woodbridge Greenhouses. We are inspired by a public service program called "Plant a Row for the Hungry". Woodbridge Greenhouse will collect donations of extra produce and deliver it to the Trinity Episcopal Church Food Closet*.
"Plant a Row for the Hungry" was created in 1995 by the Garden Writers Association and the GWA Foundation. Garden writers are asked to encourage their readers and/or listeners to plant an extra row of produce each year and donate their surplus to local food banks, soup kitchens and service organizations to help feed America's hungry.
*The Trinity Food Closet is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 to 11am and is located at 251 Danielson Pike in Scituate. This pantry provides food to between 30 and 70 families each month. With the economic situation stagnant, and school lunch programs unavailable until September, the need for food is great.
Woodbridge is open every day from 9 to 5 to accept donations. We hope you will share your bounty with those in need.

"If you saw a heat wave,

would you wave back?"

- Steven Wright, Comedian

August Garden Pest: Japanese Beetles are back...again!

August Garden Pest:

Japanese Beetles are back...again!

We all understand that the cyclical nature of gardening reeps fresh deliciousness: greens and asparagus each spring, summer herbs and vegetables, followed by autumn squash and cool-weather crops. Unfortunately, the rhythym of seasons also reeps a rotating bounty of pests. A few months ago my nemesis was the Red Lily Beetle, followed by powdery mildew, and now, it's Japanese beetles...again.
If you don't dislike Japanese beetles, it's probably because you haven't had to battle them in your garden. At first glance they are like bling in your garden with their irridescent golden-green coloring. Unlike beneficial insects that pollinate plants, Japanese beetles have three purposes in my garden: eat, mate, and turn my family into pernicious pest pluckers (...and accidental voyeurs since Patrick also likes to point out each time he finds them "mating". Looks like I may have to have "that talk" with him a LOT sooner than I ever imagined!)
Last August I compiled information on our blog about these ravenous imported beetles and a variety of ways to deal with them. This year, in addition to Neem Oil and sacrificial marigolds, my garden is defended by a 5 -year-old boy who loves to stomp on as many beetles as I can pull off our plants. As gross as it is to see the mass grave in our garden, their corpses supposedly warn other Japanese Beetles to skeedaddle.
For more information and other options, click here to read the full article.
"When summer opens, I see how fast it matures,
and fear it will be short;
but after the heats of July and August,
I am reconciled, like one who has had his swing,
to the cool of autumn."

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Perennial Container Gardening

Bright, beautiful container gardens are not just for annuals. Perennial container gardens are for you if you love adding color to your yard, porch, or deck with containers of annuals, but don't look forward to it every year. When spring arrives and the rest of your perennials are sending out shoots, so too will your containers start filling with new growth.

The Container

Perennials have a more robust root structure than annuals, so using a pot that is large enough is important. Be sure to select plants that fit your pot, specifically, don't plant a butterfly bush which grows much too large to safely be planted in all but a gigantic pot.

Give me Some Dirt

The next ingredient is the soil. We sell the potting mix that we've been using here at Woodbridge for many years. It provides plenty of the nutrients your plants need to thrive. If your pot is very large, plant it in the place where you want to keep it before you fill it with soil and plants.

Add Height

Start by selecting a taller plant for the back of the pot. Tall ornamental grasses will provide eye-catching height and movement. (Low-growing grasses planted near the rim will soften the edge.) Hostas come in all sorts of shapes, colors and sizes.


While the flowers are the focal point, they are short-lived, so be sure to select plants with attractive foliage. Start by selecting perennials with nice foliage and a variety of textures. Some of our favorites include: astilbe, coral-bells, day lilies, peonies, phlox and even dwarf evergreens. Also, herbs such as sweet basil and chives are tasty additions.

Bloom Time

By choosing plants that flower at different times, you will ensure that your container is a colorful accent to your yard all season. Be sure to avoid plants whose foliage die back after flowering, such as tulips, crocus, Bleeding Heart, primroses and Oriental poppies. Strawberry plants are a lovely (and delicious) addition.

Low Maintenance

Potted perennials don't need as much care as annuals. Since they are generally hardier, they require less watering and fertilizer. We do recommend dividing your potted perennials after a few years, to give their roots more room and refresh the soil. (Although, for the past 6 years I've had a large pot of garlic chives that never found a permanent home. I never divided it and seldom fertilize it, and it's doing just fine.)

First Frost

When I think of the first frost of the season, I recall the sickly appearance of my previously proud impatiens. Before the first frost arrives, protect your potted perennials from frost and dry winter winds by covering them with an old blanket or burlap. The fabric will block the wind, and allow precipitation through.

Freezing Temps

If you have the space and the muscle, you can relocate them indoors or move them into a garage. Avoid giving them too much warmth and sunlight which would deny them their annual dormant period.

A thick 5” layer of well-composted manure or pine bark mulch will protect potted perennials from freezing winter temperatures.


Once the chance of frost is passed, you can simply uncover and unmulch your potted perennials, give them a drink, watch for signs of new growth, and Enjoy!

Article compiled by Renee C. Brannigan

Thursday, July 1, 2010

We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness.
God is the friend of silence.
See how nature - trees, flowers, grass - grows in silence;
see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence...
We need silence to be able to touch souls.

~ Mother Teresa

Powdery Mildew Plaguing your Bee Balm and Phlox?

If you've noticed that some leaves on your Phlox, BeeBalm or other plants look like they have a little powder on them, it could be Powdery Mildew. This whitish-gray powder can rub off, or blow off in the wind.

Since it's mildew, I thought it would happen more often in wet weather, but that's not the case. Powdery Mildew is caused by a variety of fungi. The powder you see are the spores of the fungus which a light breeze can spread.

Good news? Powdery mildew is not fatal and won't cause serious damage. It will weaken the plant, slow its growth, postpone blooms, and leave pucker-like scars on foliage. The foliage may also yellow and leaves may drop off. Promptly remove and dispose of foliage and stems that show the powdery substance. Neem Tree Oil (available at Woodbridge Greenhouses) is organic, safe and effective. It is also an excellent treatment for many other garden pests and problems.

Stop it from spreading: Should you have this problem, cut off to the ground all the moldy old foliage, stems and spent flowers. Don't contaminate your compost pile with this debris. Dispose of it in a sealed container or bag to prevent it from blowing onto other plants in your garden. For extra protection, wash garden tools with hot soapy water or a weak bleach solution and rinse well.

Article compiled by Renee C. Brannigan
What sunshine is to flowers,

smiles are to humanity.

These are but trifles, to be sure; but,

scattered along life's pathway,

the good they do is inconceivable.

~ Joseph Addison


In folklore, as a Rose is the symbol for Love, Hydrangeas represent Understanding, Devotion, and Friendship. In my dear grandmothers' nostalgic garden, Roses and Hydrangeas are a match made in heaven.

In your yard, whether you plant a neat row of Hydrangeas for a lovely hedge, sprinkle a variety of Hydrangeas throughout your garden for their diverse blooms, or fill a vase to overflowing, Hydrangeas will take your breath away. We have so many Hydrangeas, you're sure to find what you want.

"I want HUGE Hydrangea flowers."
Invincibelle Spirit™ has flowers that grow up to 12" across. Absolutely HUGE flowers that re-bloom on new growth until FROST. More reasons to grow an Invincibelle Spirit? They are Easy to Care for, Fast Growing, Heat Tolerant, Long Blooming, Moisture Tolerant, Multi-Seasonal Interest, Cut Flower, Dried Flower. Stop by to see this beauty!

"I want early Hydrangea blooms."
Quick Fire™ hydrangea blooms months earlier than traditional varieties, extending the blooms and beauty from early summer rigjt through autumn. Quick Fire™ blooms earlier than other varieties. As cooler weather arrives, Quick Fire™ blooms change from white to a lovely dark rosy-pink.

"I want summertime white flowers with a hint of pink in Autumn"
Pinky Winky has large white panicles open in mid to late summer, and as summer turns to fall the florets at the base of the panicles turn pink. The flower panicles continue to grow, producing new white florets at the tip. The result is spectacular two-toned flower panicles that can reach up to 16 inches in length! This is a real show-stopper that's also very easy to grow. Adaptable to most soils and both sun and shade, Pinky Winky will thrive in most gardens.

"I want to plant another of those large, white Hydrangeas that I bought from you years ago." That must be "Annabelle". Her large (over 10" in diameter), stunning white blooms have been a favorite Hydrangea for many years. Unlike the better known blue and pink hydrangeas (macrophyllas), Annabelle blooms profusely every year, even after severe pruning or intensely cold winters. Some people plant 'Annabelle' as a hedge.

"I want more of last years' favorite Hydrangeas."
Proven Winners' Endless Summer™ Collection including Twist-n-Shout™ continue to be popular. Twist-n-Shout™ is a reblooming lacecap hydrangea. Twist-n-Shout flowers on both old and new growth all summer long. Gorgeous blossoms of pink or periwinkle blue, depending upon your soil type*. In a large enough pot, the compact-rounded form of Twist-n-Shout suits container planting.

"I want pretty summer blooms now, and I want brilliant fall color later."
Plant Oakleaf Hydrangea, Limelight or Little Lamb. Oakleaf is a native species of Hydrangea that's available in a few varieties.

"Where should I plant my Hydrangeas?"

Hydrangeas grow well in shady gardens and even tolerate full sun. Ideally, they prefer have morning sun and afternoon shade. The grower, "Proven Winner", is known for high-quality plants. Choose from a really nice variety of these Hydrangeas at Woodbridge Greenhouses.

"How do I make my Hydrangeas blue?"
Simply adding sulphur to your soil will give you bluer blooms, but not every Hydrangea will turn blue. White or Creamy Hydrangeas, like Oakleaf and Annabelle, can't turn blue. Mophead and Lacecaps that are pink, blue or purple, can usually change color according to the pH of your soil. You will need to reapply the sulphur throughout the growing season to maintain the color change. Another tip: For sweeter (alkaline) soil that will turn some varieties more pink, work lime into your soil. For just a hint of blue, continually mulch your Hydrangeas with acidic pine needles that will slowly add acid to your soil.

The growing number of varieties ensures that one will suit your taste and your garden. Whether planted in a hedge or sprinkled throughout your garden or filling your favorite vase, Hydrangeas have been a favorite garden plant for generations.

Article Compiled by Renee C. Brannigan

A cool, perfect day for gardening, stop by TODAY and fill your garden with bright, colorful annuals!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

"People from a planet without flowers
would think we must be mad with joy the whole time
to have such things about us."
--Iris Murdoch

Vine Time: Twisting, Turning, Spiraling Upwards...

Flowering Vines captivate;
stretching, reaching for the heavens
achieving wonderous heights;
trailing cascading flowers
punctuating their climb.


For many years, my favorite climber was the glorious Morning Glory. It is so easy to grow; produces prolific flowers right up to frost; fresh flowers every day; a joyful climbing vine...

My favorite...that is, until I fell in LOVE with Black Eyed Susan Vine (Thunbergia)! Who can resist their perky golden flowers?
Luckily, this charming vine is an annual in New England. In warmer climates, Black-Eyed Susan Vine has the same reputation as Bittersweet does around here: It thrives too well.

Black-Eyed Susan Vines use their stems to twirl around as they climb (photo right).

Another vine with eye-catching flowers is the exotic Passion Flower Vine (along with cucumbers, peas and grape vines) have thin, curly tendrils that spiral around and around until they touch something they can hold onto (photo left).

Bower Vines (photo left) have glossy leaves and fragrant white and pink trumpet-shaped flowers. They also have tendrils that coil around, seeking support, as do peas (photo right).

Twining Climbers, like Wisteria, Honeysuckle and Clematis can grow quite large and heavy so they must have good strong support since they have been known to pull down arbors and even porches.

Locally, Bittersweet is a vine that often chokes out native plants, overtake nearby shrubs and strangling young trees. Trumpet Vine is such a vigorous grower that the utility company cuts ours back each year just around the time it reaches the top of our telephone pole. Friends of ours trim their Trumpet Vine back to the same height each year so that it now looks like a small topiary. Neatly kept in check, it is a glorious sight in bloom.

Climbing Hydrangea is an often-overlooked plant that deserves greater attention. It can be planted near a tall tree or brick wall. Although not a sprinter right out of the gate, each year your climbing hydrangea will pick up more speed. When in bloom, it puts on quite a show.

To hide an unsightly chain-link fence or create a privacy screen: Plant your vine, then select 3 or 4 evenly spaced main stems that you can fan out to secure to the fence. Trim the rest. If your vine has a single main stem, once the plant is planted, cut back the main stem to promote re-growth from the base of the vine. As the vine becomes established, selectively cut back crowded stems to promote growth in other areas.

If you are interested in adding some height to your garden with cascading blooms of flowering vine, please stop by Woodbridge for a good selection of climbers. Ask one of our friendly associates to help you find: Wisteria, Hydrangea, Bower Vine, Passion Flower, Grape, Morning Glory...and of course, Black-Eyed Susan Vine.


Article compiled by Renee C. Brannigan

for Woodbridge Greenhouses 2010

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