by Morrisons on April 22, 2013
While native New Englanders may cringe in anticipation of that inevitable last snowfall, Mother Nature waits for no one and is moving forward.
Look outside and see the first buds of the season rapidly emerging on trees and shoots coming up in your garden. It’s spring and an explosion
of color is closer than you think.
When talking about which plants make the earliest spring debut almost everyone is familiar with those yellow-flowering shrubs (forsythia) and those purple things that are everywhere (PJM rhododendron) that bloom first in the spring. They are tried-and-true, and really reliable, but if you are looking for something a little different, consider these perennial winners.
by Morrisons on April 5, 2013
Living by the sea is beautiful, but every year we must deal with beach erosion. This year was particularly bad for many waterfront owners, here are some steps that can be taken to help minimize the loss of sand.
Plant vegetation is our best means of holding onto what sand we have. Cape Dune Grass is one of the best, both through its root mass and through the foliage that gathers flying sand particles. This native plant will grow in pure sand and can be sprayed with salt water. The planting period of Cape Dune Grass is February through mid April and again, mid October through the first part of December.
by Morrisons on April 4, 2013
One of the best new toys of the digital age to benefit gardeners has been the digital camera. Those who know me know I would prefer to have a splitting maul or a shovel in my hand any day of the week but for us here at the garden center, today the person who comes into us with the digital camera and a few pictures is the easiest person to help.
When a person is designing a new garden area, both closeups and wide angle shots giving us the whole picture are great. Further notes should be taken as to observing the light pattern on the planting site throughout the day. Knowing how much sun vs. shade and when will help us in recommending plants that will thrive. Time should also be taken to dig into the soil in the proposed planting be so we may suggest how to amend or suggest plants that take more sandy or clay type soils.
by Morrisons on January 2, 2013
We’ve already had that first snow storm of the season around the holidays followed by a blast of arctic temperatures. Nobody wants to be “that neighbor” that didn’t shovel or de-ice their property, but what’s the difference between rock salt and other de-icers? I’ve put together a primer that will tell you what melting agents are plant-safe, kid-safe and how to keep your walkways safe for everyone.
Rock Salt is sodium chloride and is a mined mineral with some impurities. It is a hard crystal that has some traction qualities to it. It is also the least expensive per lb. The down side to the material is that more has to be applied per square foot than other materials require and just as ocean water freezes, this material fails to work at lower temperatures. When temperatures are below 20 degrees it really doesn’t perform well. Another downside to it is that it is corrosive to metal. It is also toxic to grass and plants and with excessive use it will render a soil to be sterile to plant life.
Calcium Chloride has the lowest melting point being -59 degrees. When it comes in contact with ice it immediately heats up and melts the ice or snow. It is more toxic than rock salt and has a high available chloride content similar to rock salt. It is the fastest acting of all the ice melting agents. The white bead can break down with water and leave a slimy coating if put down too heavy.
Magnesium Chloride will melt down to -15 degrees. It is less toxic than baking soda and has a chloride content approx. 50% of rock salt. It is much kinder to the environment and safer to use around kids and pets. It is also used as a dust controlling agent in horse arenas.
Potassium Chloride melts ice down to +12 degrees and is used in the fertilizer industry as marinate of potash. It is a hard mined crystal and has some traction quality. It is not as corrosive as calcium chloride or rock salt, it’s also used by plants as a nutrient and thus will not harm plants if not over applied.
Urea is a nitrogen fertilizer. It is used by airports as an ice melter because it will not corrode expensive aircraft. It has no chlorides and melts down to 15 degrees. It is considered safe to use around pets and children.
PRODUCTS WE CARRY:
Greenscapes is a blend of potassium, sodium, magnesium chloride with corrosion inhibitor, turf mark green liquid and ice ban. Safest on concrete.
Works to -10°.
Road Runner is a blend of calcium, potassium, and sodium chloride.
Works to -15°.
Calcium Chloride Pellet is best on asphalt. It is very corrosive.
Works to -20°.
Calcium Chloride Flake is usually mixed with sand. For commercial use.
Fast Melt is a blend of urea, potassium, and sodium chloride.
Works to 5°.
Halite (Rock Salt) is rock salt that comes in 25lb and 50lb. bags for use in areas where run off is not a concern and the temperatures are warmer. It is most affordable but very corrosive.
Works to 20°.
Safe Pet is a salt-free product that is safe for children and pets.
Works to -2°.
Magnesium Chloride Flake is used to control dust and hold footing in riding rings. It is safe on concrete.
Works to 5°.
Magnesium Chloride Pellet is less corrosive than calcium or halite.
Polar Express is a blend of sodium chloride, propylene glycol, and calcium magnesium acetate. Safe on concrete and vegetation.
Works to 0°.
Scaling of concrete is a major concern for property owners. It occurs from rapid heating and cooling of cement. It is more likely to occur with calcium chloride and sodium chloride. It usually is a concern when ice melting products are overly applied or unevenly applied. It is alway is best to follow directions and use a spreader.
For those of you who can’t get enough of this subject (and we know you’re out there) visit Peters Chemical Company for the the final word on ice melters.
by Morrisons on November 19, 2012
Sure, we’re partial to our own staff but doesn’t it make sense to buy a tree from the local Nursery & Greenhouse experts here at Morrison’s? You can trust our quality selection of trees and ensure that the only thing under the tree on Christmas morning are presents and not dry needles. Here are a few tips to picking out the perfect tree for Christmas and how to keep it fresh and looking majestic all through the holidays.
Measure, measure, measure. Quick, how tall is your ceiling?? Gotcha. Now go grab the tape measure and find out. Make sure you account for that huge neon star you own and the height of tree stand. Trees always look smaller outside and the last thing you want to do when you get home is use your trusty Ginsu knife to take another six inches off the top.
There are lots of great tree stands out there and we stock quite a few of them. Some swivel and allow for easy repositioning, some are cast iron and are as stable as you’ll find. All should have a plentiful reservoir so the tree does not dry out quickly.
by Morrisons on October 20, 2012
Now that we’ve had several hard frosts it’s time to put your garden to sleep for a long nap. As a rule of thumb all planting beds should be mulched for the winter. If they are beds with woody ornamentals then 2 to 3 inches of bark mulch will do the trick. Pine needles also can be used too! Mulch saves the purpose of conserving soil moisture and helps protect the plant roots from thawing and freezing action.
For the perennial garden a mulch of salt marsh hay or a product called Mainly Mulch will do the trick. Mainly Mulch is an oat or wheat straw product that has been chopped and heat-treated to destroy the weed seeds. Care should be taken not to put this product on too soon for it will invite more damage from mice and voles. Once your perennials have died back they can be safely cut back to 2 to 3 inches above the crown. I usually prefer to leave my grasses alone until spring for they add so much interest to my winter landscape.
by Morrisons on June 14, 2012
Part of my job here is to find new plants for the garden, therefore there are a number of trials ongoing, and hopefully only a few errors. My tree of the week is brand new to Morrison’s this year and one that breezed through our testing. Normally I would wait to expound on a plant but this liner I brought in from Heritage Seedlings in Oregon has performed so well in the container that we need to talk about it now!
Cornus kousa ‘Summer Gold’ leafed out fully just two weeks after planting with a medium green colored leaf surrounded by a gold yellow margin. From 30 feet away this dogwood appears to be a gold leaf plant which when set against a dark green backdrop will be spectacular.
This is a small stature dogwood from PlantHaven Nursery that they claim will be approximately 8′ tall and 5′ wide at maturity; perfect for some of the smaller gardens that deal with partial shade and are looking for a smaller tree.
Like most kousa’s, the branching will be upright and this variety appears to be compact as well. The hardiness rating for this plant is zone 5 ( -10 to -20 ), more than hardy enough for anywhere in Massachusetts. Come end of June into July, it will come into flower with cream white flowers to give color to the landscape when most of our other spring flowering trees have gone by.
The real unexpected benefit comes in the fall when unlike most Kousa dogwoods, the leaves are going to be streaked with red. This is a great plant for fall color but it will also shine brightly in your garden this summer.
by Morrisons on June 7, 2012
With wet, cold weather coming back, the number one question from our customers is “what are the pink spots on our lawn?” Many customers are bringing in patches of grass that are partially brown with touches of pink through it. On close inspection of the grass, you can see tiny little red threads coming off the grass tips that give the common name to this lawn disease, Red Thread.
Red Thread (laetisaria fuciformis) is a common lawn patch disease that is most prevalent in spring and fall. It comes with wet weather primarily to perennial ryegrass and fine fescue lawns. It usually strikes when the nitrogen levels are low in a lawn, so a lawn feeding may be required as the first step in treatment.
A second part of the treatment could be to apply a fungicide to combat the fungus before it results in dead brown spots. I prefer systemic fungicides like Scotts® Fungus Control with Thiophanate or Bayer Fungus Control® with Propiconazole. Both of these products come in a granular form and can be applied with a broadcast spreader. Remember, both these products need to be lightly watered in to be effective.
For those who would prefer to spray, Bonide makes a product called Infuse that has the same ingredient as the Bayer product and comes in an applicator that can be screwed onto a hose and applied.
Good housekeeping is also in order when one of the patch diseases strike. Keep the lawn mower blade sharp and run the engine at the proper rpm to give the grass blades a clean cut versus a ragged edge. Another good practice is if the disease is in one section of the lawn, mow that last and wash off the deck of the mower when done; there’s no sense in spreading the disease throughout your lawn.
If you have an irrigation system, be sure that the system is turned off during wet weather. Why waste water and promote more disease? Be sure to run your system early in the morning instead of running it in the evening and putting the lawn to bed wet. One is far better off running irrigation longer to get deeper into the soil and allowing for more time between water applications so that the surface will dry. Personally, I try to water only twice a week if needed.
Do you have other lawn and garden questions? Come and talk to us, nobody has more answers and knowledge than Morrison’s.
by Morrisons on May 31, 2012
Picking the right plant for the right spot is the first step in getting a new plant established in the landscape. After that, the quality of the planting job goes along way towards a successful addition to your landscape.
We recommend following the basic instructions from the Extension Service of Univ. of Massachusetts. Digging a hole wider than deeper and then adding an amended soil mix to surround the new root ball. Planting depth is equally important for planting a perennial, shrub or tree too deeply will result in stress or the death of the plant. Please ask our staff where the root flare is on a tree for that’s where it should be planted, no lower or higher.
Customers frequently ask us what fertilizer to use and in recent years with the development by Espoma of a starter with mycorrhizae, we have shifted to this product. What is mycorrhizae? Mycor and rhiza mean literally fungus and root and defines the mutually beneficial relationship between the plant and the fungus. These are specialized fungi that will colonize the root system and spread far beyond them. The mycorrhizal filaments are extensions of the root system and are more efficient in absorption of nutrients and water than the roots themselves.
Espoma’s Bio-Tone Plus has 17 different fungi to aid in the establishment of this beneficial fungi. It’s most important that this product be incorporated into the new soil mix surrounding the root ball to work. Mulching the plant after planting will help promote even soil moisture so this new fungi will propagate and spread.
Watering practice after the planting is equally important where the initial soaking will help get out the air pockets and settle the soil firmly around the root ball. Subsequent watering should be done with enough to once again soak the root zone down to the full depth of the root ball. Frequent shallow watering should be avoided.
Another product that is new to the market which can be used after planting is Thrive from Alpha Bio Systems. We carry Thrive New Plant, Vegetable, and Lawn. All of these products are designed to be mixed with water for application and will restore the biological activity of the soil.
by Morrisons on May 24, 2012
Photo courtesy of Proven Winners.
The soil has now warmed up enough and it’s time to plant sweet potatoes, but wait, don’t they only grow down south? Maybe you mean the pretty foliage plant that is used in planters that in one season can grow up and flow out of a container trailing up to 6 feet?
Lets talk about both plants for they each have their place in my garden. In the veggie garden we are talking about a plant that has been bred over the last century to have high sugar in relation to starch and to be a very tasty and nutritious vegetable. We receive into Morrison’s bundles of 25 8″ stems with a few leaves that don’t look like they could ever make it. From this rather humble start, in 90 to 100 days, springs a very dense vegetative cover that chokes out all the weed and produces a great crop of tasty sweet potatoes that can be either cooked fresh or stored through a good part of the winter.
I till up a bed 25 feet long, raking in 10-10-10 (fertilizer consisting of 10% nitrogen, 10% phosphate and 10% potash) to the soil. I try to have the ph above 6.6 and they absolutely need full sun. If your soil is heavy, it’s best to rake it into a mound to plant into for that makes harvesting the crop easier. I set each stem fully into the soft earth leaving a few wilted leaves out and keep watered.
Come the end of August I will start to dig into the row to steal some fresh sweet potatoes to be sliced up and sprayed with olive oil to go on the grill. The main part of the crop I wait for the first frost to kill the top growth and then I go digging. The two varieties we carry at the store are Georgia Jets which grow extremely fast and will yield sizable potatoes in 90 days.
The Georgia Jets have a red to purple outside color with a deep orange inside. The plants are vigorous so leave 4 feet between the rows. The other variety we carry is Bunch Porto Ricos for more limited spaces. This has a copper colored skin with a light red interior. This variety needs approx. 110 days for maturity.
For a dramatic companion plant to accent your flowers nothing beats a sweet potato vine (Ipomea batatas). The plant breeders have been working overtime with this plant. A few years back, all that was available was Margarita, Blackie and Tricolor. Margarita, with its bright chartreuse green heart shaped foliage is my favorite and most vigorous.
Blackie is a little less vigorous with a bird’s foot shaped leaf being almost black in color. Tricolor is dramatically less vigorous with both green, white and pink coloration in the leaf.
New to the market is the Illusion series with a more mounding habit and the Sweet Caroline series with an even more compact habit of spreading 18″ to 24″. The Sweet Caroline series has a number of different leaf colors and combinations. We have even seen some of these newer hybrids flower for us near the end of the summer but their true benefit is a contrasting dramatic foliage.