CT Landscaping Tips – December 2013

The end of the 2013 CT landscaping season is here.  Below are some tips to prepare your home and landscape for winter.

In the Landscape

  1. Cut back perennials to prevent the overwintering of insects and disease.  Cut most perennials to the ground.  Some perennials, such as coral bells, should not.  It’s better to post a question below than to cut prematurely.
  2. Cut ornamental grasses 3-6 inches from the ground either now or in late winter.  Here in CT I cut ornamental grasses in the fall, they tend to get beat up and look ratty through the winter.
  3. If you have tree hydrangeas (Hydrangea paniculata)  it’s OK to prune them once the leaves fall off.  Tree hydrangeas flower on the current seasons growth.  They will bloom next year if pruned this winter.  If you have bigleaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla) only cut spent flowers to clean up the shrub, otherwise you’ll be removing next years blooms.

Household Maintenance

  1. Turn off the valves to your hoses on the inside of the house and then open the valves on the outside to drain water.  Once the water drains close them again to prevent accidentally running water all winter if someone turns the wrong valve.  Disconnect and roll up your hoses on a warm day to flush all water from them.  Bring hoses indoors for longest life.  You can keep them coiled, without water inside, outside your home or in the shed or garage over the winter.  If you use the hose over the winter disconnect it and remove all water before coiling it up again.
  2. Is your snow blower tuned up and ready to go?  Do you need to replace any snow shovels before they are all gone?
  3. Have you called the oil company about your winter tune-up?

Might I Recommend

  1. Winter is a great time to prune deciduous trees and shrubs in CT landscapes.  If your landscape needs pruning call today!
  2. Now is the time to begin planning your landscape design if you are thinking about landscaping next year. Spring comes fast.  Now is the time to start the design.
  3. Need firewood?  We have a limited supply available so don’t wait to call.

If you have any questions about your CT Landscape please post them below.

By John Holden

What are the Beautiful Red Berries by the Road?

As I drove down the road this week I spotted the most beautiful red berries.  They caught the morning sun and lit up the bare Fall landscape.

The shrub was winterberry holly (Ilex verticillata).  It has bright red berries in the Fall and early Winter that are about 3/8″ in diameter.

Winterberry holly is a deciduous shrub.  You usually see it growing along the edge of a swamp or stream in the wild.  If you are going to plant winterberry holly in your landscape plant it in the dry soil next to the stream or swamp, not in the stream or swamp.

Winterberry holly grows six to ten feet tall depending on the light.  There is a lot of variation in fruit set between.

Ilex verticillata Winterberry Holly
Winterberry Holly Ilex verticillata
This group of winterberry holly is on the edge of a wetland.

I often plant winterberry holly in woodland plantings because it is a native shrub and very easy to grow.

If you’re looking for a reliable and easy to grow shrub that provides winter interest give winterberry holly (Ilex verticillata) a try.

By John Holden

Tips for a Low Stress and Peaceful Life

I wrote the list a while ago.  I hope you’ll take a moment to read it and add your own tips in the comments below.

  1. Live in the moment.
  2. We are on a continuum.  It’s not yes or no, up or down, good or bad.  Every day varies.
  3. Nobody is perfect and that’s ok.
  4. Exercise.  Some exercise is always better than none.
  5. Focus on the positive, let the negative go.
  6. Stop multitasking.  Get one thing done well not three things poorly.
  7. Just say no.  You can’t do everything.
  8. If you don’t like something say so.
  9. Spend time with the right people who lift your spirits and accept you the way you are.
  10. Take everything people say to you is a compliment.
  11. It’s ok to make mistakes.  That’s how we learn.
  12. When having a bad day think of good things.
  13. Admit you need help or don’t know the answer, even if only to yourself.
  14. You don’t have to know everything.
  15. Bad things never happen at good times.
  16. We don’t have to correct everyone.  Do we correct others to help them or feel better about ourselves?
  17. Get up at the same time every day.
  18. You define who you are, not your job or how much money you have.
  19. If someone wants to ruffle your feathers say, “No thank you.” and walk away.
  20. It’s better to know than to avoid.  If there is a problem seek a solution.
  21. We are all different and that’s ok.
  22. When distracted by negative thoughts distract yourself.  Count windows or bricks on a wall, do something physical or go to a movie.
  23. We can always learn something.
  24. Never brag.
  25. Where you found happiness as a child is where you will find happiness as an adult.

By John Holden

Lessons Our Pets Teach Us

The kitty on the left is Spice.  Spice is the mother of Sugar on right.  All Spice wanted was a warm lap.  The day we went to the shelter to choose our kitties Spice was shy.  When I rubbed her chin she leaned into it and I knew she was the kitty for me.

Sugar grew up on the streets of Waterbury with Spice.  Sugar and Spice were abandoned.   Sugar was 5 to 6 months old when we brought her home.  Sugar wasn’t socialized as a kitten.  With Sugar’s temperament I don’t think it wouldn’t have made much of a difference.  Sugar sees people as a source of food and warmth.

Sugar is growing affectionate as she matures.  When I’m working in my office she meows at me even though there’s food in her bowl.  If I give her a few pets the purring starts.

Sugar has bonded with Madison, our high-strung, though calming as she matures, collie.  I often see them laying one or two feet apart with sugar copying Madison.  Madison never moves into Sugar’s space for fear of ‘The claw.’  Sugar freely move into Madison’s space.

cat sleeping on dog

Both of our children have suffered from ‘The claw’ because they didn’t listen to Sugar.  If you ask what noise a cat makes my children will make a hissing noise.  Sugar is the reason neither of my children want a cat for a pet.  I plan on getting a fluffy and affectionate kitten for my children, and myself, when the time is right.

I have taught my children to rub their fingers together and let Sugar come to them, not to walk up to Sugar and start petting her.  Sugar is ok with about 5-8 strokes on her terms before you get a gentle reminder that she is in control, not you.

Some people might think a cat-like that is a bad thing to have in the house.  I disagree.

Sugar shows incredible restraint.  When she strikes she does the least necessary to get the point across.  No more, no less.

Cat in sun
If either of my children did not listen to Sugar I would have to find her a new home because she could injure one of them.  Sugar has taught my children to respect animals.

Sugar the Cat and Theo the Great Pyrenees Dog
We lost Madison our Collie about a year and a half ago. We now have a Great Pyrenees puppy named Theo. Sugar has dealt with the situation very well.


By John Holden