Native bloodroot started to bloom March 26 2020


“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant.”

– Anne Bradstreet

This year, the winter here in Connecticut was warmer than usual and had little snow, but plenty of rain. Plants like star magnolias, forsythias and hellebore started to bloom early- here on the UConn campus a Hellebore bloomed the first week of March. A small snowstorm on March 23 brought two inches of snow in central Connecticut and was followed by enough rain to melt any snow cover off by the following day. Bloom progress on the star mags and forsythia came to a halt, but it should resume as flower buds were generally not damaged.

march snow 2020

March 23 snowstorm

Resident birds like turkeys are making their presence known as they go about the serious business of attracting mates. Their fanning of tail feathers and stomping around makes them hard to miss. Woodpeckers are also drumming to attract mates, and red-bellied woodpeckers send out their familiar call advertising what they deem the perfect nesting holes for potential females to check out. They often are inside these holes, just poking their heads out to call.

male turkeys fanning

Male turkeys fanning

Wood frogs and spotted salamanders have laid their eggs in vernal pools and they should be hatching any day now. Wood frog eggs tend to float to the water’s surface, while the salamander eggs are stuck on underwater stems. Both the eggs of wood frog and spotted salamander are sometimes invaded by certain symbiotic algae whose cells are transferred to the hatching generation of their amphibian hosts.

wood frog eggs floating on the surface of a vernal pool March 19 2020

Wood frog eggs masses on the surface of a vernal pool in March

An Eastern garter snake was encountered yesterday deep in the woods. This native snake can mate in March- early May and gives birth to live young in late June- August. This snake can tolerate cold weather and is commonly seen where there is an abundance of most vegetation where it will feed on toads, frogs, worms and other creatures.

garter snake in deep woods near a strem MArch 26 2020

Eastern garter snake in the woods

Lichens are an example of a symbiotic partnership between a fungus and an algae or a cyanobacterium. The fungal part depends upon the other component to survive. The rock tripe is a lichen that resembles dead leaves and is found living on rocks. Umbilicaria mammulata is the most common rock tripe. Soft and pliable like leather in moist weather, when conditions are dry these leaf-like lichens will shrivel and become quite brittle.

rock tripe lichen Umbilicaria

Rock tripe lichens on a boulder in the woods

Bracket fungi, or shelf, fungi comprise numerous species of the Polypore Family in the class basidiomycete. These fungi obtain energy through the decomposition of dead and dying plant matter. The visible fruiting body can be long- lived and hard like wood adding a new layer of living fungal matter at the base of the structure every year. Fungal threads are within the dead or dying woody host where they obtain nutrients.

Phellinus robiniae shelf fungi on decaying tree trunk

Phellinus robiniae shelf fungus are hard like wood

Wooly bear caterpillars, Colletes ground nesting bees and mourning cloak butterflies are a few insects that are active in March. Often seen crawling across lawns in late March, wooly bears are looking to pupate soon, while the Colletes are looking for pollens and nectar sources to provide food for their young, which hatch singly in nesting chambers that resemble ant hills. From the ground level.

Early flowering plants are a good source of pollen and nectar for bees. These include the Japanese andromeda, native bloodroot, spring flowering witch hazel native spicebush, willows, daffodils, crocus and dandelions.

spring witchhazel flowers

Spring flowering witch hazel

As you hike about, check out stalks of plants and small branches of shrubs for mantid eggs cases. These eggs masses resemble tan styrofoam and Mantids should hatch by mid-May, depending upon weather.

mantid egg case keeney st pl March 22 2020

Egg case of a praying mantis

Native sweet ferns, Comptonia peregrina, are blooming and leafing out. These aromatic small shrubs are members of the bayberry family and can be found in dry open woods where there are sandy, acid soils. They are a good spreading plant for difficult dry soils and slopes, and they are one of the host plants for the gray hairstreak butterfly.

sweet fern flowering and leafing out March 22 2020

Sweet fern catkins and new leaves


The days are warming up and soon the landscapes will be full of color. But even when it is not so bright and cheery outside, as Charles Dickens wrote ‘ Nature gives to every time and season some beauties of its own”


Pamm Cooper


Amidst the chaos, we’re happy to invite our colleague Nicole Freidenfelds, coordinator of a UConn Natural Resources Conservation Academy Program, to tell our Ladybug readers about an exciting summer program that you won’t want to miss! Take it away Nicole.

-Abby Beissinger


I am excited to have this opportunity to share with you a free statewide UConn program that is perfect for anyone who gardens or even simply enjoys spending time outdoors among nature. It’s also great for Master Gardeners looking to satisfy their volunteer hours.

The Conservation Training Partnerships (CTP) partners teens and adult community volunteers together and supports their conservation efforts by providing training during a two-day field workshop and guidance as they conduct any local conservation project they want to tackle.

The teams are paired prior to the workshop. During the workshop, each team learns how they can apply innovative, user-friendly mapping and web technology to address local conservation issues through hands-on fieldwork. We have workshops scheduled in Stamford, Waterbury and Eastford this June.


After the workshop, the team carries out a conservation project that addresses a local environmental issue in their hometown, using their new skillset. The projects are developed by the team at the workshop and CTP instructors provide support to help the team along the way.

Examples of past projects include planting pollinator gardens, cleaning up local parks, removing invasive plants, and installing rain gardens. Below I highlight a few specific projects.

This Glastonbury CTP team chose to install a monarch waystation at Wind Hill Community Farm. They planted native monarch-friendly plants in a small patch of earth on the farm property, but the plants got eaten by a pesky rabbit. After a second planting that included protective fencing, they were ecstatic to find a monarch caterpillar happily munching on a milkweed. I consider that a huge success!

wildflower map

This CTP team created an interactive map of Benjamin Wildflower Preserve, a property of Aspetuck Land Trust in Weston. They created a map that can be accessed by anyone and used to help identify a number of different wildflower species along the trail.  Check out their project poster and online map to get inspired by the possibilities for your town could be.


A multi-part project in Hebron involved both digitizing a nature trail and native planting for pollinators at the RHAM High School Memorial Garden. Their goal was to engage the local community and get more people into nature. They used technology to excite and make the public aware of a school trail, and planted a native garden in a school park to attract both local community members and pollinators.

CTP teams typically showcase their projects in the form of a poster or video at a conference in March, but unfortunately the conference has been postponed due to concerns about COVID-19.

The good news is that we’ve decided to host a virtual conference to highlight their hard work and you’re invited to attend! Come learn first-hand about the program and how you can help make a difference in your community. The virtual conference will take place this Saturday, 3/21. For more information and to learn how to attend, check out:

If CTP sounds like the right program for you, check out our website for details on how to apply: . Feel free to contact me with any questions at

By Nicole Freidenfelds, 2020


As a child, spending a warm summer week or two with Grandma was always pleasurable. Though she has long since passed, a whiff of lavender brings memories of bygone days back to life, if only for a moment. In those days Grandma didn’t have a clothes dryer so everything was hung on the line to dry. Wrinkled items, including sheets, were then ironed. A sprinkle of water (how many of you remember the old coke bottles with aluminum/cork sprinkler heads?) was spritzed to dampen heavily wrinkled articles. Grandma always added a few drops of lavender water to her bottle and when it was time for bed, the gentle scent of lavender enveloped me as I drifted off into peaceful slumber.

An ancient herb used by the Romans and Greeks, lavender is also listed in Gerald’s Herbal (1597). They appreciated its calming abilities much like I suppose my grandmother did. Although not much scientific validation exists, lavender has reputed properties as an antiseptic, an anti-inflammatory and as a wound healing agent. In Victorian times, it served as a household disinfectant as well as being treasured for its strong, clean fragrance, which is what most of us grow lavender for today.

Lavender is one of the most versatile and useful essential oils used for everything from soap to aromatherapy. It remains in high demand for the perfume industry even today. Copious numbers of flowers are distilled to produce their essential oil. For each acre of lavender grown, on average only 15 to 20 pounds of oil is produced, and that is during a good year.

lavender soaps

Lavender soaps are delightful. Photo by dmp, 2020.

Depending on the source, there may be anywhere from 25 to 47 species of lavender, probably because some species epithets are used interchangeably and because of natural as well as intentional hybridization. Lavenders call Mediterranean regions home but are now cultivated widely around the world. They are members of the mint family.

Most common are English lavender (Lavendula angustifolia) and French or Spanish lavender (L. stoechas). One can often pick up most intriguing looking French lavender plants, sometimes at grocery or big box stores. The whorls of purple or pink flowers somewhat resemble pine cones and are crowned with same colored bracts. They make delightful container plants but are marginally hardy here and may be best treated as annuals.

Lavender_Anouk_DarwinPerennials from ngb

Lavender ‘Anounk’ by Darwin Perennials from National Garden Bureau (

English lavender is not native to England but was brought there in the form of oil by the Romans. Plants were brought in during the thirteenth century and grew remarkably well. By the nineteenth century, England was a global lavender production center with plants grown for aromatic, decorative, culinary and medicinal purposes. Many are familiar with Yardley products, the original being the creation of a lavender scented soap during the reign of Charles I.


Lavender in bloom. Photo by dmp, 2020

Crosses between English and spike lavender (L. latifolia) are classified as L. x intermedia and include selections such as ‘Provence’, Phenomenal’ and ‘Grosso’. Some are hardier than others so do check their USDA hardiness zones when purchasing plants.

Lavender refers not only to the name of the plant but also to the lovely purple shade of its flowers. Most species produce flowers of this soft violet-blue hue but pink and white flowering cultivars can be found. “Alba’ is a white flowering variety while ‘Jean Davis’ blooms a pale pink. English lavenders are favored for their longer stems with heavily scented terminal flower spikes, 3 to 4 inches in length and with 6 to 8 whorls of lavender blossoms. Plants generally grow 2 to 3 feet high but there are dwarf cultivars. The grey-green foliage is also heavily scented.

Plant lavenders in perennial borders, as edging along a walkway, in herb gardens or in containers. Romantics may want to plant a hillside replicating the extensive lavender plantings in Europe. Regardless of your intent, lavenders require a sunny site with well-drained soil and a near-neutral pH to succeed. Fertilize sparingly, if at all and cut plants back to about 6 to 8 inches early in the season for bushy, floriferous plants. Wet feet, especially during the winter, is the bane of lavender growers. More plants will die from being too wet during the winter than too dry during the summer.

lavender & garden shed L. Rivers

Lavender and garden shed. Photo by L. Rivers, 2020

Stems can be cut for drying when blossoms are one-half to two-thirds open. Corral stems together with a rubber band or ribbon and hang in a dark, dry place for 1 to 3 weeks. The dried stems can be used in arrangements or the flower buds can be separated and used in potpourris, sachets, or for cooking.

lavender bouquests

Lavender bouquets. Photo by dmp, 2020.

Small amounts of the strongly flavored lavender buds can be added to jams and jellies, fruit salads or used in baking. One of my favorite recipes is for lavender lemon cookies. It’s from Country Living Gardener, 2003/2004.


1 cup softened unsalted butter

¾ cup sifted confectioners sugar

¾ teas. vanilla

½ teas. salt

2 cups flour

Zest of 1 lemon

1 ½ teas. finely chopped dried lavender flowers

Cream butter and sugar. Mix in vanilla, salt, lemon zest and lavender. Add flour. Mix thoroughly and chill for 30 minutes. Roll out dough and cut into desired shapes.

Bake on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper at 350 F for 8 to 11 minutes. Yield: 3 1/2 dozen 2 inch cookies.

lemon lavender cookies

Lavender lemon cookies by dmp, 2020.

The National Garden Bureau has designated 2020 as ‘The Year of Lavender’. It is such a wonderful plant, I heartily concur. This year lavender gets my vote and hopefully yours too.  Enjoy.

Dawn P.

blue skies and sunshine walk

This past weekend was a gift of blue skies and sunshine too good to return or ignore. I took a walk to reacquaint myself with the land outside of home and office walls. Too often winter restricts outdoor activity for those afraid of ice, mud and other slippery surfaces. Plus I hate chapped lips and cold fingers. The past few days hinted spring is making her travel plans to include the Northeast as a destination. Photos snapped  below are reminders of the walk showing new life and signs from the previous season.

mullien basal leaves feb2020

Mullein (Verbascum thapsus)

Mullien, (Verbascum thapsus), is sporting new growth leaves from last year’s basal rosette of leaves. The plant is a biennial weed, common along roadsides and trail edges. Records show it was introduced in the 1700’s with settlers, probably brought as seed for use as a medicinal herb. In summer it will send up a tall spike of five-petaled, yellow flowers. The leaves are covered in soft hairs giving the grey-green coloring.

Magnolia × soulangeana bud in Feb 2020

Saucer magnolia, (Magnolia x soulangeana), was spotted in a local yard with its buds swelling, another sure sign spring is on its way. The terminal bud contains the blossom. The smaller lateral buds are holding the leaves.  This photo clearly shows the bud scar where a leaf was attached to the branch last year. The raised bumps within the leaf scar are where the xylem and phloem connected to the leaf. Water and food is transported through the xylem phloem.

Stewartia buds feb 2020

Japanese Stewartia, (Stewartiapseudocamellia) buds are also swelling and elongating. This non-native specimen tree was planted locally also. When old enough it will produce white camillia-like flowers in summer.

stream and sun reflection

The bright sun reflected off the water of a small stream at the beginning of the trail. Green water plants were being tugged with the water’s flow.

sedge on waters edge feb 2020

Sedge was perking up, coming out of its dormancy. Sedges are identifiable by their sunken midrib sharp edges. Most of last year’s leaves will die back and rot away, providing nutrient release for this year’s foliage.

moss green

Patches of soft moss are coloring up a vibrant green throughout the forest, especially where the sun hit. Later in the season, after the tree leaf canopy blocks most light from them, the moss will slow down it growth. If a drought occurs, it will go dormant waiting out the time until it rains.

moss on roof feb2020

Here some moss grows on the roof protecting signage, which was mostly in the shade.

princess pine, club moss feb 2020

The patch of club moss is known as princess pine. It is neither a moss nor a pine. It is a plant in the group known as lycopodiums, is an ancient plant, dating from the Paleozoic era about 340 million years ago. It is very slow growing via a main runner which forks in two sending out more runners. Picking the shoots off runners very often decades of growth. It is not illegal to pick, as often thought, but it is highly discouraged by plant folks trying to maintain its presence in the ecosystem. They reproduce like ferns sending up candle-like projections as its fruiting structure containing the primitive plant’s spores.

lichen feb2020

Lichen was ever-present through the forest, indicating good air quality. Lichen will not grow in places with air pollution. Lichen is not harming any trees. It is not parasitic, only using the tree for structure. If you look around you will see it on fence posts and rocks proving it does not need a living plant to survive. Lichen is a combination of an algae and a fungus or or cyanobacteria living symbiotically, taking what it needs from each other and the air.

poison ivy vine feb2020

The aerial roots of this poison ivy vine are taking on a red color signifying its awakening. All parts of the poison ivy plant contain the oil urushiol which causes the allergic rash.

preying mantid egg mass feb2020

One leafless, many branched shrub was a favorite of praying mantids as I found two egg masses (ootheca) on its twigs. Each ootheca can contain several hundred eggs which will hatch in the late spring or summer, just in time to feast on other insect feeding on the shrub.

Gall on Oak

Another find on an oak twig is the spent gall. Oaks are host to many gall making insects A gall is a malformation of tissue caused by an insect injecting a chemical to make the oak tissue into a home and food for her young. Mostly galls are just cosmetic, not causing much harm. Some galls will kill twigs.

oak juvenile holding leaves feb2020

Here a young oak hangs on to its spent leaves produced last year. The leaves have died but do not fall and remain on the tree. The term for this retention of dead plant matter is marcescence. Is is most common on juvenile oak and beech trees.

beech in winter

Above is a young beech with bleached out leaves. It will drop these of last year once new green leaves begin to emerge.

mountain laurel feb2020

The native mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia), provides a rich green to the understory and trail edges. Late May will bring its flowers, especially in sunny spots.

mountain laurel leaf spot feb2020

Mountain laurel is commonly attacked by a several leaf spot diseases, especially in dense areas where there is little airflow. These diseases are usually not deadly, just unsightly. Most highly infected leaves will drop and new, clean leafs will be produced.

blue trail mark closer

Trees marked with blue paint are part of the CT Forest and Park Association’s Blue-Blazed Hiking Trail System. They have 825 miles of maintained trails all across Connecticut and charted in the CT Walk Book and through a free interactive map APP for your phone.

Happy hiking and walking in the woods.

Walk in woods

by Carol Quish, all photos by CQuish, UConn


By Abby Beissinger

There are several plant diseases caused by fungal, bacterial, oomycete and viral pathogens that can persist on or inside seeds. At germination, infested seeds can infect the resulting plants that grow, and cause early infection. While chlorine and other chemical seed treatments can be effective at removing pathogens that adhere to the seed surface, these treatments are not able to penetrate the seed coat and eliminate pathogens that are present inside. As a result, hot water seed treatment has emerged as one of the best known methods to manage seed-borne pathogens, because of the treatment’s ability to kill pathogens that exist both on the outside and inside of seeds.

Over the past year, we’ve heard from growers and others that a UConn-based hot water seed treatment service is among the top agricultural priorities. Well, we listened! Thanks to funding support from the New England Vegetable & Berry Growers Association and UConn’s Grant for Innovative Programming in Extension, the UConn Plant Diagnostic Lab in collaboration with the UConn Extension Vegetable Program will begin offering hot water seed treatment for vegetable seed effective February 14, 2020!

It is important to note that while hot water seed treatment can eliminate pathogens on and in seeds, it neither protects nor guarantees that plants will remain disease free throughout the growing season. Hot water treatment will enable you to start with clean seed, and strong cultural management practices (i.e. crop rotation, field sanitation, scouting, etc.) will still be important to implement on plants that grew from hot water treated seed.

Important considerations to take before submitting seed for hot water treatment:

  1. Determine if the seed you’d like to treat is commonly associated with diseases caused by seedborne pathogens (Table 1).
  2. Determine if the seed you’d like to treat is a good candidate for hot water treatment (Table 1). Treating large-seeded crops such as beans, peas, cucurbits, corn, etc. that are not listed on Table 1 is not recommended because the temperature required to treat these seeds can kill the outer seed tissue and prevent germination.
  3. Determine if your seed has already undergone hot water treatment or if it has been primed. This information is not always easy to find, so it is important that you contact your seed supplier with specific questions. A few seed companies conduct hot water treatment, and treating the seeds a second time will damage the seeds and affect germination. Additional questions to ask include: have the seeds been certified disease-free? Were the seeds produced in a specific way to minimize exposure to seedborne pathogens?
  4. Determine if your seed has a fungicide or insecticide treatment coating. This coating will wash away during hot water seed treatment, therefore rendering the coating useless. If the seed has a clay coating, this coating will also wash away but will not be detrimental to the seed.
  5. Determine the age of the seed. Only treat seed that you plan to use within 1 year. Hot water treated seed does not remain viable for as long as untreated seed.

The treatment process is fairly simple. We follow established and tested protocols for hot water treating each species of vegetable seed to ensure the highest quality. Seed undergoes a pre-warming process in a controlled water bath at 100°F, then is subjected to treatment in another water bath at 118-125°F for 15 to 30 minutes depending on the crop. Seed is immediately air dried, carefully packaged, and shipped back to the grower at the address they provide.

Treatment fees include $6 per 0.01-1oz of seed per cultivar submitted. An additional $6 in shipping and handling will be assessed per 0.01-13oz of seed mailed back to the grower. To learn more about the service, fees, and to download submission forms, visit

Table 1. Vegetable crops suitable for hot water seed treatment, and their seedborne diseases that can be controlled.

Crop Diseases Controlled
Beet / Swiss Chard Phoma/Canker, Beet downy Mildew, Cercospora leaf spot
Brassicas Alternaria leaf spot, Bacterial leaf spot, Black leg, Black rot
Carrot Alternaria blight, Bacterial leaf blight, Cercospora leaf spot, Crater rot, Foliar blight
Celery / Celeriac Bacterial leaf spot, Cercospora leaf spot, Septoria leaf spot, Phoma crown and  root rot
Eggplant Anthracnose, Early blight, Phomopsis, Verticillium wilt
Lettuce Anthracnose, Bacterial leaf spot, Lettuce mosaic virus, Septoria leaf spot, Verticillium wilt
Onion Purple blotch, Stemphylium leaf blight, Basal Rot, Botrytis blight, Smudge, Black mold
Parsley / Cilantro Bacterial leaf blight, Alternaria leaf blight, Black rot, Cercosporoid leaf blight, Septoria blight
Pepper Anthracnose, Bacterial leaf spot, Cucumber mosaic virus, Pepper mild mosaic virus, Tobacco mosaic virus, Tomato mosaic virus
Spinach Anthracnose, Cladosporium leaf spot, Cucumber mosaic virus, Spinach downy mildew, Fusarium wilt, Stemphylium leaf spot, Verticillium wilt
Tomato Alfalfa mosaic virus, Anthracnose, Bacterial canker, Bacterial speck, Bacterial spot, Cucumber mosaic virus, Early blight, Fusarium wilt, Leaf mold, Septoria leaf spot, Tomato mosaic virus, Tobacco mosaic virus, Verticillium wilt, Double virus streak

Even though this hasn’t been a particularly brutal winter so far, the sights and scents of flowers are a welcome diversion from the muted, bare winter landscape. For me, this usually means a trip to Logee’s Greenhouse in Danielson as well as an excursion to view the spectacular floral displays at Worcester Art Museum’s exhibit, Flora in Winter, which was held this past weekend, January 23-26, 2020.

florist display 1

Eye catching floral display at entrance to exhibits. Photo by dmp, 2020.

For those unfamiliar with Flora in Winter, it consists of dozens of fantastic floral arrangements that are created to interpret the museum’s various works of art including portraits, paintings and sculptures. This is the eighteenth year this floriferous exhibit has been held and its theme is ‘Epic Bloom’, influenced by the current museum exhibition entitled, ‘Photo Revolution: Andy Warhol to Cindy Sherman. As you might imagine, very bright colors were encouraged by this theme and brought excitement to typically stoic corridors and common spaces.

florist display 5

Love the lavenders and the blue leaves! Photo by dmp, 2020.

Not only could visitors gaze at two dozen of the most gorgeous, and sometimes evocative, floral creations orchestrated by some of the region’s top floral designers but there were several dozen more floral designs created for this event by local florists and garden clubs that were displayed throughout the museum. Even the restrooms were enlivened with flowers.

florist display 4

Magnificent floral display by local florist. Photo by dmp, 2020.

Every floral creation was awesome. The ability of the floral artists to integrate their containers, flowers, leaves and other horticultural materials while using their creations to interpret a piece of artwork was truly amazing. Each one was a masterpiece and all were my favorites.

Among some of the more intriguing works was this interpretative design by Sandra Tosches of the Greenleaf Garden Club of Milford, MA representing an untitled work by Morihiro Wada (2000) who used natural materials to create contemporary ceramics of intricate abstract patterns.

untitled Morihiro Wada vase Greenleaf GC

Interpretation of untitled Morihiro Wada vase, photo by dmp, 2020.

The yellow lilies and woven leaves give the arrangement by Thelma Shoneman of the Acton MA Garden Club a crowning sensation much like the elaborate crown worn by this Grecian goddess possibly Aphrodite (510-480 BCE). Accessories to the main bouquet in peachy-pink give a feminine touch to this powerful figurehead.

Colossal Female Head Acton GC

Floral interpretation of Collosal Female Head. Photo by dmp, 2020.

Daintiness and femininity prevails both in this 16th century portrait, Woman at Her Toilette by the School of Fontainebleau (1550-1570) and in Kim Cutler’s (Worcester Garden Club) interpretation of this intimate portrait. At first glance, her arrangement almost appears to be floating in air, a delicate and airy bouquet of old-fashioned roses, calla lilies and ammi. The pussy willows trail down like strings of pearls. As the designer states, “In my design, I hope to capture her delicate beauty as well as suggest her status as a “kept woman”. The glass case illuminates this well.

Women at her Toilette Worcester GC

Floral interpretation of Woman at her Toilette. Photo by dmp, 2020

Vibrant colors demand attention. The black and red battle attire of Benedetto Falconcini, Bishop of Arezzo by Pier Leone Ghezzi (1702-1706) are repeated in designer Mary Fletcher’s (Worcester Garden Club) striking yet somber arrangement. Note the curled flax leaves and the dark blue vase. Golden accents in her floral creation pick up the golden halo while a tipped arrow piercing the arrangement pair with the bow and arrows in the bishop’s hands.

Benedetto Falconcini, Bishop of Arezzo Worcester GC

Floral interpretation of Benedetto Falconcini, Bishop of Arezzo. Photo by dmp, 2020.

Another dark but alluring piece was the interpretation of Francisco Corzas (1967) Self Portrait by Kathy Michie, also of the Worcester Garden Club. I wish I had been better about noting the flowers and greens used in the arrangements as I believe the large red/white bicolored blossoms to the right are amaryllis but am not sure. Regardless, it is a wonderful interpretation as if you squint to limit your vision, the same colors prevail on both the artwork and the floral creation.

Self-portrait Worcester GC

Floral interpretation of Self Portrait. Photo by dmp, 2020.

This is but a small sampling of incredulous amount of talent, thought and creativity that goes into this incredible floral and artistic exhibit open to the public each January. Mark your calendars for next January and join me in welcoming Flora in Winter at the Worcester Art Museum.

Dawn P.

hydrangea sticks

Bare spring stick just pushing out buds last spring. Photo Carol Quish

During the winter, my hydrangea looks dead. It has lost all of its leaves, as it should, but I am now left with a bunch of bare sticks. Normally when you see this, the urge is to cut them back to the ground. DON’T prune them now. Those dead looking sticks contain the buds for next year’s flowers. If you prune now, you will be cutting off all of the flower buds. Sometimes the deer will come along and eat the tips, producing the same effect as if you pruned them. Other years with very cold sustained winter temperatures below zero, the flower buds will be killed by being frozen. Big leaf hydrangea’s, Hydrangea macrophylla, is only borderline hardy in zone 6. During warmer winters big leaf Hydrangea fare much better. They also will not lose their flower buds closer to the shore and ocean areas as the climates are more moderated by the ocean temperatures which are warmer than the air.

So to recap:

Do not prune big leaf hydrangea in fall, winter or spring. Only prune after flowering as flower buds are produced in late summer and carried on the sticks until the following summer bloom time.

Deer may eat the flower buds held at the tips. Use spray deer repellents monthly or cover with burlap. Protect from snow buildup that could break the branches.

Site Hydrangea in a south-facing or protected area of the yard to reduce colder temperature exposure.

Hopefully, next summer your hydrangea plant will bloom beautifully.

-Carol Quish

hydrangea, lacecap