Honeysuckle Trouble

Honeysuckle

Honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii)

Do you have honeysuckle running rampant on your property? It’s hard not to be charmed by the lovely yellow and white sweet-smelling blossoms that are out in droves now. But its invasive nature has gotten it banned from nurseries in Massachusetts, and it is likely to take over your garden and naturalized areas if left to its own devices. There are some types of honeysuckle that are less invasive than others and still ok to plant on Cape Cod. But when in doubt, go native. What can you plant instead of honeysuckle for similar benefits of street level screening and lovely June blooms?

Viburnum plicatum

Viburnum plicatum – Doublefile Viburnum

Our native Viburnums bloom at the same time as honeysuckle, but in addition to a spectacular flower show, they produce yummy berries for the birds, and brilliant fall color. Our favorite is Doublefile Viburnum because the large flowers look like lace-cap hydrangeas or ballerinas in flight and their branches and leaves create a graceful horizontal pattern. But there are lots of other cultivars to choose from including Viburnum prunifolium which has edible raisin-like berries, and Cranberrybush Viburnum whose berries taste like cranberries. Just make sure to get the American Cranberrybush, not the European version whose berries are not so tasty. We wouldn’t recommend eating the berries from the Doublefile viburnum either, they are better left for the birds. Always confirm the cultivar of the plant first before consuming it! Viburnum does best in a little bit of shade. Use it as an understory shrub in a woodland area or along the edge of a street, underneath your street trees.

Viburnum plicatum

Viburnum plicatum – Doublefile Viburnum

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Signs of Life

After a long and snowy winter here on Cape Cod, we are finally seeing signs of life! We caught these bulbs and perennials popping up in Falmouth this week. If you want early spring color, consider planting some of these in your garden:

Crocus

Crocus

A universal sign of spring, nothing is more cheerful than the crocuses. Plant the bulbs in fall and these bursts of color will reward you repeatedly year after year.

Sedum

Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’

This succulent brings color to a garden for 3 full seasons, its slowly changing colors truly reflecting the ephemeral nature of a garden. In the spring, its bright green leaves brighten up flower beds. By late spring and early summer it has pretty white buds that change from light pink to dark pink flowers throughout the summer. By fall the blossoms are a vibrant burgundy. Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ is extremely drought tolerant, and hardy. Though it prefers full sun we’ve seen it thriving in some shady parts of the garden.

 

Hellebore_pink frost

Helleborus Gold Collection ‘Pink Frost’

Some of our Hellebores have already been blooming for months, even in the snow. This one is a called ‘Pink Frost’. Put them in your shade garden or near your front door where they will perk up even the dreariest winter landscape.

Snowdrops

Galanthus (Snowdrops)

The delicate ballerina-like flowers of Galanthus are perfect for a woodland garden. Plant them with lily of the valley for a carpet of green and white all spring.

A Woodland Nook in Progress

Woodland Nook 7

A New Woodland Sitting Nook

We recently created an informal sitting area in the margin of woods between a residence, a sloping meadow, and a path through the woods. The residents wanted a place to sit and enjoy the shade in the summer months. Here is a quick photo tour showing how the shady woodland nook fell into place.

Recently cleared wooded area

Recently Cleared Wooded Area

The existing wooded area was first cleared of invasive understory shrubs and vines, and a few dead trees were removed.

Woodland_nook_1

Creating a Level Area

Once the vegetation was cleared, we needed to create a level sitting area. We re-graded the bumpy spots and added some clean fill.

Woodland_nook_5

Building a Rustic Retaining Wall

We constructed a rustic boulder retaining wall on the lower edge of the sitting place.

Setting the Stones into Place

When the retaining wall was complete, we added good planting soil/compost mix, and raked it smooth. Then we set irregular bluestone in place, keeping the joints far enough apart for mosses and other ground cover to be installed later.

Woodland_nook_4

Laying out the Irregular Bluestone

Now the Woodland Nook is ready for some shade loving plants to fill in the blanks. Add a few Adirondack chairs, and it will be a great respite from the summer sun. We’ll add more photographs when the planting is complete!

woodland nook 8

Sitting Area Ready for Planting