Looking for Fall Color in your Garden

Want to have the best Fall color in your neighborhood, think about planting a few of these fall flowers, Asters, Black-eyed Susans, Chrysanthemums, Common Bugleweed, Coral Bells, Dahlias, False Aster, Goldenrod, Japanese Anemone, Knotweed, Monkshood, Ornamental Cabbage, Osteospermum, Purpletop Vervain, Sedum, Strawflower, Toad Lily, Willow Blue-star, Wood Spurge. A lot of these make beautiful Fall color flower pots or even a small garden around the mailbox post.

Here’s a list of Fall Shrubs, Burning Bush, Camellia, Crape Myrtle, Doublefile Viburnum, Fothergilla, Japanese Barberry, Oakleaf Hydrangea, Smoke Bush, Staghorn Sumac, Virginia Sweetspire, Witch Hazel. Add any of these as a backdrop in your favorite garden.

Fall Trees with the sun shining on them are one of my favorite Autumn Scenes. Here’s a list of Fall Trees. American Persimmon, Bald Cypress, Bigleaf Maple, Copper Beech, Freeman Red Maple, Ginkgo, Honeylocust, Japanese Maple, Japanese Zelkova,Katsura, Pin Oak, Shagbark Hickory, Sweet Gum, Tall Stewartia, Thornless Cockspur Hawthorn.

Don’t forget to check your Zone before purchasing

Hedges and Screens

Martin’s Garden Notes

Creating a separation from neighbors is a goal for many gardeners. This is not really antisocial but just an effort to have your own outdoor space This can be accomplished in several ways. Often the request is for evergreens that completely hide the neighborhood year round. This may certainly be desirable in a space that you see all the time, but if the space is used primarily in the summertime, shrubs and trees that bloom in the spring and summer when you are enjoying the garden may be good choices. Hydrangeas, Chaste Tree, Rose of Sharon, and Sourwood come to mind as very attractive summer bloomers. Try Forsythia, and Weigela, and many sorts of Viburnum for spreading plants that grow 8-12 feet tall.

If evergreens are the best for the space, remember that Spruce, Fir, and Pines generally grow 20 feet wide and 50 feet tall. Arborvitae will only get 8-10 feet wide and up to 20 feet tall. Some particularly narrow evergreens are Dragon Lady Holly, and Emerald Green Arborvitae. Screens in shady places can be achieved with Yew, Hooy, Rhododendron, and Mountain Laurel.

If yours is an urban yard and space is at a premium, fences can be the most efficient way to create privacy. Fences are particularly effective in showing off the garden which can include many shrubs,small trees and perennials.

Gardening in the Shade

Martin’s Garden Notes

There are plenty of options now for gardens in the shade. Often interesting foliage plants like Hostas are excellent for providing structure for your shade garden.  Astilbe, with plumes of white, pink or red or Pulmonaria offering speckled foliage and pink, white or blue blooms inn early spring add color. Old fashioned Bleeding Heart blooms beautifuly in early spring while the dwarf forms bloom all summer.

Groundcovers are effective in the shade including pachysandra, and myrtle. Be cautious with ivy as it is quite agressive and hard to control when established. One Pachysandra discovered by a nursery in Connecticut is called Green Sheen is slower growing with glossy foliage. Introducing scattered groups of other perennials like hostas in a bed of groundcover adds interest to the space.

Several perennials bloom late in the season in the shade including Toad Lily with speckled blooms in October. European Ginger, Ferns, Andrmeda and Japanese Holly also work well.

All these add up to interesting possibilities for your shady garden. 

Versatile Lilacs

Martin’s Garden Notes

lilacs are shrubs that offer a lot of diversity. We are all familiar with the Old Fashion Lilac with it’s wonderful fragrance. Related varieties include all of the ” french hybrids” which were derived from our old fasioned favorite. Most offer the nice fragrance and a wide range of colors. Powderly mildue, common on these lilacs, can be unsightly but will cause no permanant harm to the plants. Spraying in early summer will make it less of a problem.

We have recently started to grow a selection of ‘hyacinthaflora’ types that offer great scent and a blooming period that is a little in advance of the old fasioned and the French Hybrids.

Following up these lilacs are several small leafed forms that bloom later to extend the season. Miss Kimm a lavender blue is a fovorite because it flowers freely, has nice scent and blooms after old fashioned types. A nice dwarf, the korean lilac (Syringa palabaiana ) often blooms twice.

Most lilacs can be pruned by removing a fwe older limbs to the ground every year just after bloom. This will generate new healthy shoots to keep the plant productive and contained.

Easter Flowers Bloom Twice

Martin’s Garden Notes

Easter is a wonderful time of year with the world waking up and nature’s rebirth becoming so evident. One gratifying activity is planting your Holiday flowers in the garden to enjoy them again next year.

When the flowers are faded snip off the blooms and keep the plant in a sunny window until you can plant it. This year with  a late Easter, the plants can be set in the garden as soon as the flowers have faded. For all plants, add a little bulb food as directed on the package. Tulips would like a little lime as well. Plant the bulbs so as not to disturb the roots and plant them 4-5 inches deeper in the ground than they are in the pot. Leave the foliage on each plant until it has faded. Lilies, including Easter Lilies often bloom again in the fall.

Most azaleas and hydrangeas are not winter hardy but can be grown outside over the summer and brought inside as late as possble but before it gets below 30 degrees. They will bloom sometime in the late winter.

The Glory of Forsythia

 Martin’s Garden Notes

Forsythia are a great welcome to spring with their bright golden blooms. They grow quite large so you don’t need many. Give Forsythia about 8 feet by 8 feet of space. When large enough, you can cut branches in the winter and let them bloom in a vase.  After a few years, remove a few of the oldest branches to the ground when blooming is over. This encourages new shoots so your Forsythia will maintain a graceful form and a manageble size.

Witch Hazel bloom even earlier than Forsythia, often in mid February. They grow in an upright  vase shape , we stock Arnold’s Promise a yellow and a red-orange variety. A good companion for Forsythia is the Rhododendron PJM, a popular variety with purple blooms that contrast nicely with Forsythia.

There are  similar varieties including Aglo (hot pink) and Molly Fordham (white) that bloom a little later for a nice sequence.

For later blooms, Viburnums of several varieties and Weigela, wich grow in the same manor as Forsythia, blooms in late May in red or pink.

Planning your garden in January ! WOW


Yes, now is the time to start, it’s cold, windy, snowing, but you’re sitting in a warm house in a comfortable chair what better time to think gardening!

First, look up where the big garden shows in your area are, secure the dates and plan on attending. Be the first to see the new idea’s and new items.

Now is the time to order or buy that special tool or better yet special tools. Take advantage of all the show specials, and don’t forget to bring home all the brochures that are available. Be sure to take time to relax and go through those brochures to see all that is available to make your gardening enjoyable.

All the garden magazines will have their spring items and articles, go to the local book store, the garden section is loaded with ideas. Review magazines you don’t normally buy, this is a good time to get a different prospective on your garden plans, new articles will do this for you. Although the local Magazine store is great also consider a Book store such they usually have a spot where you can sit and have a coffee and review all the garden magazine’s in comfort.

Also the internet, you have your favorites check them out but go roaming check new sites you can’t imagine what’s out there! New items and idea’s being added every day don’t miss them.

Just wanted to plant the seed, just remember what you do in January will show results July.

For the Gardener

Martin’s Garden Notes

Here are a few tips for the gardener on your gift list:
Felco pruners are just the best pruners around. They come in several models to fit any hand and have removeable blades for ease of sharpening.
Brass out-door Thermometers: Select from sprit or dial models in several sizes.
Gifts with maritime themes: Reproduction scrimshaw pieces, carves birds and more.
Orchids may be exotic but do not need to be difficult. We stock phaelenopis( moth orchid) because it is easy to grow and blooms for many months. It will be a welcome gift.
Bird feeders of several sorts can be found here. Give the birder on your list a Hummingbird feeder. They really work!
North Country Wind Bells and Woodstock chimes add pleasing sounds to the garden.
Gift Certificates are always welcome gifts by the gardeners on your list

Holiday Plant Care

Martin’s Garden Notes

Poinsettias are not toxic and are very easy to keep. Just give them  a few hours of direct sunlight and keep them evenly moist. A little fertilizer( 20-20-20 soluble)twice a month will help maintain good color. Night time temperatures is best at just below 60 degrees. Select yours from our nice selection grown here at island Garden Shop, Inc.
Cyclamen also like a sunny window to keep blooms coming. The trick to these elegant plants is to keep them away from the heat. Warm days and chilly nights kep them in good shape. Cyclmen can bloom until the weather warms in late spring. Don’t allow to wilt.
Christmas Cactus also like it cool. Hot dry conditions will often result in the loss of flower buds. Trim them back after blooms finish if necessary and keep them outside in the summer in mostly shade until the temperature dips into the 30’s. You can root the pieces you trim off just by sticking them in potting mix.
Get a quick start with Amaryllis bulbs by finding a very warm spot (75-78 degrees) to get them going. Once growing they can come into your living space with good sunlight.
Starting paperwhite narcissus bulbs is very popular. One trick is to store bulbs you want to start later in a warm place while a cool place is best to get them started. Grow them in a brightly lit location with night temperatures around 50-55 degrees.

Decorating for the Holidays 2

Martin”s Garden Notes

Here are a few tips for using greens for your holiday decorating. Greens used for outdoors last through the season until you are ready to plant your containers for the spring. Balsam fir branches are inexpensive and take up a lot of room. Add some greens from Oregon like silver and noble fir, blueberry juniper or holly which can be used in  small quantities for variety. Winterberry branches are nice too. When using greens indoors, most things will hold their color for several weeks.

We have found that laurel and princess pine roping hold their color for at least a month but will dry out quite fast. Just use it where the traffic that can brush against it is limited. Needled evergreens like pine and fir need to be fresh and be in water to keep. Holly, even if it is in water will keep about a week, so keep a few branches in water in a cool but not freezing place to replenish the holly in your arrangements.

Boxwood is one of the best keeping greens for the holidays. One of our specialties is a holiday arrangements and wreaths made of boxwood which last many weeks. Stop by, Island Garden Shop Portsmouth RI.,to select one of our designer’s creations for your table