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Apr 3, 2015

Metro West (Acton): 

General Conditions: In like a lion, out like a lamb? I’m not so sure if that saying applies to this past March especially since twice this week, we experienced snow. Albeit, only dustings but adding to the already existing snow that covers the ground that is up to a foot in some areas. Snowmelt is happening but not as quickly as one would think it would happen for this time of year. Still, lower limbs on some trees and shrubs remain weighted down by the snow. Spring clean ups in the landscape will be well delayed. The historical amount of precipitation on record for the month of March is 4.83”; the historical average high temperature is 46º and the historical low temp is 27º. Weather tracked for this month in the Metro area did not come close to these numbers. Recorded for this month was 2.64” for the total precipitation, 41º for the average high and 21º for the average low temperature. A couple more numbers for you, the highest temperature of 58º was recorded for the month on the 11th and the lowest temp of -3º was recorded on the 1st. Pests/Problems: As the snow continues to melt, more damage in the landscape as a result of the record amount of snow and the ensuing snow removal operations, including ice melt damage on conifers seen growing along roadways and broken and split branches on trees and shrubs from the weight of the snow continues to reveal itself.

Metro West (Acton): Mar 27, 2015

General Conditions: It’s only been two weeks since the last Landscape Message was submitted and one would think that more time has passed than that based on the variable and unusual weather experienced in the past fourteen days. A high temperature of 58° was recorded on the 11th; a low temperature of 11° was recorded on the 20th; hail the size of large peas pelted and bounced around in the landscape on the late afternoon on the 17th; wind gusts were recorded up to 21 mph on the 18th and have been recorded at over 15 mph on 4 additional days (the 12th, 17th, 19th and 22nd); and finally, snow fell twice, on the 15th and then again on the 21st, ushering in the spring season. Despite the recent snow fall and the fact that the ground remains covered with a foot or so of snow, some signs of spring are revealing themselves. In microclimates particularly those tucked up near the sunny sides of buildings and out in the landscape, the foliage from some of our earliest flowering bulbs can be seen emerging from the ground. Another sure sign of spring is our days are getting longer and as I write this on the 25th, sunrise is at 6:40 am and sunset is at 7:03 pm, giving us 12 hours and 23 minutes of day light! Pests/Problems: There is much damage in the landscape as a result of the record amount of snow and the ensuing snow removal operations, including ice melt damage on conifers seen growing along roadways and broken and split branches on trees and shrubs from the weight of the snow.

Metro West (Acton): October 04, 2014

General Conditions: Again, another reporting periodwithout recording any significant amount of rain. Soils remain dry. Not a good thing, entering into the fall planting season, however there is rain in the forecast. Let’s hope that the forecasts are accurate! The Acton area received a mere of 0.16” of much needed rain and gained just 95 growing degrees over the past two weeks. The area experienced its first frost on the 20th and experienced a spell of summer like temperatures late September with a high of 85° F recorded on the 28th. Fruits, pomes, seeds and early fall color continue to provide much interest in the landscape. Acer (Maple), Cornus (dogwood),Fraxinus (Ash) and Rhus (Sumac) are putting on a great show with their leaf color as are the red fruits on Cornus florida (Flowering Dogwood), C. kousa (Kousa Dogwood) and Viburnum and a variety of colors and sizes of fruit on the Crataegus spp. (Hawthorn), Malus spp. (Apple and Crabapple) and Sorbus spp. (Mountain Ash).Pests/Problems: Showing some fine fall color are some of our worst landscape pests including Celastrus orbiculatus (Oriental Bittersweet),Euonymous alatus (Burning Bush) and Rhus radicans (Poison Ivy).

Metro West (Acton): August 21, 2014

General Conditions: Summer is not over yet but it sure feels like it waking up to some cool starts to the day. A low temp of 45° was recorded on the 19th! 86°, the highest temp for the month was recorded on the 5th and a 90° day was last recorded on July 23rd. The Acton area gained 208.5 GDD over the past two weeks and received 1.49” of rain. The historical monthly average rainfall for this area is 3.72”. Woody plants seen in bloom this week are Albizia julibrissin (Silk Tree), Buddleia spp. (Butterfly Bush), Clerodendrum trichotomum (Harlequin Glorybower), Clethra alnifolia (Summersweet Clethra), Hibiscus syriacus (Rose-of-Sharon), Hydrangea paniculata and its many cultivars including ‘Tardiva’) and Rosa ’Knockout’ (The Knockout family of Roses). Woody vines in bloom are: Campsis radicans (Trumpet vine) and Clematis spp. (Clematis). Contributing even more color and interest to the landscape are some flowering herbaceous plants including: Astilbe spp. (False spirea),Cassia marilandica (Wild Senna), Cichorium intybus (Chicory), Coreopsis verticillata(Threadleaf Coreopsis), Daucus carota (Queen Anne’s Lace), Echinacea purpurea(Coneflower), Eupatorium purpureum (Joe Pye Weed), Hemerocallis ‘Stella D’Oro’ (Daylily), H. fulva (Orange Daylily), H. spp(Daylily), Hosta spp. (Plantain Lily),Impatiens capensis (Touch Me Not), Leucanthemum sp. (Shasta Daisy), Liatris spicata(Spike Gayfeather), Limonium latifolium (Sea Lavender), Lobelia cardinalis (Cardinal Flower), Macleaya microcarpa (Plume Poppy), Malva alcea ‘Fastigiata’ (Hollyhock Mallow), Monarda didyma (Bee-Balm), Patrinia gibbosa (Patrinia), Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian Sage), Phlox carolina (Carolina Phlox), C. paniculata (Phlox) and its many cultivars, Platycodon grandiflorus (Balloon Flower), Rudbeckia fulgida‘Goldsturm’ (Black-Eyed Susan) and Solidago spp. (Goldenrod). Pests/Problems:The first Asian Longhorned beetle of the season was captured within the Worcester County ALB regulated area and a 2nd one was caught in a trap on the 18th in Worcester so continue to check your trees for oviposition sites, frass, exit holes and the beetle. Monitor the 13 host genera which are: Acer (Maple), Betula (Birch), Ulmus(Elm), Salix (Willow), Aesculus (Horsechestnut), Fraxinus (Ash), Platanus (Plane Tree), Populus (Poplar), Celtis (Hackberry), Sorbus (Mountain Ash), Albizia (Mimosa),Cercidiphyllum (Katsura) and Keolreuteria (Golden Raintree) for signs of this invasive pest.


Metro West (Acton): August 8th, 2014

General Conditions: The Acton area gained 276.5 GDD during this two week recording period and received 2.71” of rain. A total of 6.40” of rain was recorded for the month of July, well exceeding the historical monthly average of 4.07”. Woody plants seen in bloom this week are Aesculus parviflora (Bottlebrush Buckeye), Albizia julibrissin (Silk Tree), Buddleia spp. (Butterfly Bush), Clerodendrum trichotomum(Harlequin Glorybower), Clethra alnifolia (Summersweet Clethra), Hibiscus syriacus(Rose-of-Sharon), Hydrangea paniculata and its many cultivars including ‘Tardiva’),Oxydendron arboreum (Sourwood) and Rosa ’Knockout’ (The Knockout family of Roses), Woody vines in bloom are: Campsis radicans (Trumpet vine) and Clematisspp. (Clematis). Contributing even more color and interest to the landscape are some flowering herbaceous plants including: Achillea millefolium (Yarrow), Actaea racemosa(Black Cohosh), Astilbe spp. (False spirea), Cassia marilandica (Wild Senna),Cichorium intybus (Chicory), Coreopsis verticillata (Threadleaf Coreopsis), Daucus carota (Queen Anne’s Lace), Echinacea purpurea (Coneflower), Eupatorium purpureum (Joe Pye Weed), Hemerocallis ‘Stella D’Oro’ (Daylily), H. fulva (Orange Daylily), H. spp(Daylily), Hosta spp. (Plantain Lily), Lavendula angustifolia(Lavender), Leucanthemum sp. (Shasta Daisy), Liatris spicata (Spike Gayfeather),Lilium spp. (Lily), Limonium latifolium (Sea Lavender), Lychnis coronaria (Rose Campion), Lysimachia cletheroides(Gooseneck Loosestrife), Macleaya microcarpa(Plume Poppy), Monarda didyma (Bee-Balm), Patrinia gibbosa (Patrinia), Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian Sage), Phlox carolina (Carolina Phlox), C. paniculata (Phlox) and its many cultivars, Platycodon grandiflorus (Balloon Flower), Rudbeckia fulgida‘Goldsturm’ (Black-Eyed Susan), Solidago spp. (Goldenrod), and Veronicastrum virginicum (Culver’s Root). Pests/Problems: Sawflies are actively defoliating Betula nigra ‘Little King’ (River Birch). The first Asian Longhorned beetle of the season was captured in Worcester on August 5th so continue to check your trees for oviposition sites, frass, exit holes and the beetle. Monitor the 13 host genera which are: Acer(Maple), Betula (Birch), Ulmus (Elm), Salix (Willow), Aesculus (Horsechestnut),Fraxinus (Ash), Platanus (Plane Tree), Populus (Poplar), Celtis (Hackberry), Sorbus(Mountain Ash), Albizia (Mimosa), Cercidiphyllum (Katsura) and Keolreuteria (Golden Raintree) for this invasive pest. One of our most aggressive weeds, Cynachum nigrum(Black Swallowwort) is setting seed. Already setting seed and quite visible is Ailanthus altissima (Tree of Heaven). Look for it growing along roadsides and in medians.


Metro West (Acton): 

Message #8 - May 9th, 2014

General Conditions: Soils continue to remain moist with the recent rains. The total rainfall recorded for the month of April was 4.09” just shy of the monthly average of 4.16”. Conditions are ideal for planting and transplanting. Lawns continue to green up and the mowing crews are out in full force. With the cooler temperatures, signs of spring are extended and are apparent everywhere. Woody plants seen in bloom this past week areAcer platanoides (Norway Maple), A. saccharinum (Silver Maple), Amelanchier spp. (Shadbush, Serviceberry), Cercis canadensis (Redbud), Chaenomeles speciosa (Common Flowering Quince), Forsythia spp. (Forsythia), Fothergilla gardenii (Dwarf Fothergilla), F. major (Large Fothergilla), Lindera benzoin (Common Spicebush), Magnolia stellata (Star Magnolia), M. soulangiana (Saucer Magnolia), M.‘Butterflies’ (Magnolia Butterflies),M.‘Yellow Lantern (Yellow Lantern Magnolia), Pieris japonica (Japanese Pieris),Prunus spp. (Cherry), Pyrus spp. (Pear), Rhododendron mucronulatum (Korean Rhododendron), R. 'P. J. M.', Spiraea thunbergii (Thunberg Spirea), Vaccinium angustifolium(Lowbush Blueberry),V. corymbosum (Highbush Blueberry), Viburnum burkwoodii (Burkwood Viburnum) andV. x burkwoodii ‘Mohawk’ (Mohawk Burkwood Viburnum). Both flower and leaf buds on a number of different woody plants are swelling and ready to burst but contributing even more color and interest to the landscape are some flowering herbaceous plants and spring ephemerals including: Anemone nemorosa (Wood Anemone), Asarum europaeum (European Ginger), Aurinia saxatilis (Basket of Gold), Caltha palustris (Marsh Marigold),Claytonia virginica (Virginia Spring Beauty), Dicentra canadensis (Squirrel Corn),D. cucullaria (Dutchman’s Breeches), D. spectabilis (Old Fashioned Bleeding Heart), E. xversicolor ‘Niveum’ (White Flowering Barrenwort), Epimedium x versicolor ‘Roseuem’ (Pink Flowering Barrenwort), Eversicolor ‘Sulphureum’ (Yellow Flowering Barrenwort),Helleborous niger (Christmas Rose), Hyacinthus spp. (Hyacinth), Mertensia virginica(Virginia Bluebells), Muscari sp. (Grape Hyacinth), Myosotis sylvatica (Forget-me-not), Narcissus spp. (Daffodil), Omphalodes cappadocica (Navelwort), Pachysandra procumbens (Allegheny Spurge), P. terminalis (Japanese Pachysandra), Phlox subulata(Moss Phlox), Primula spp. (Primrose), Sanguinaria canadensis (Bloodroot), S. canadensis‘Multiplex’ (Double Bloodroot), Stylophorum diphyllum (Wood Poppy), Tiarella cordifolia(Foam Flower), Trillium erectum (Red Flowering Trillium), T. sessile (Toadshade Trillum),Tulipa spp. (Tulip), Uvularia sessilifolia (Bellflower), Vinca minor (Periwinkle),Viola spp. (Violet) and Waldsteinia ternata (Barren Strawberry). Pests/Problems:Snowball Aphid is evident on Viburnums and caterpillars are actively feeding on the foliage of Malus (Crabapple) but you have to look closely to spot them. Ticks, mosquitoes and black flies are feeding and active.In full bloom is Acer platanoides (Norway Maple), one of Massachusetts’ invasive woody plants. It’s hard to miss the tree with the yellow flowers in bloom everywhere! Alliaria petiolata (Garlic Mustard) is in full bloom as is Berberis thunbergii ( Barberry). Both of these plants are highly invasive. Other weeds seen in bloom now are Glechoma hederacea (Ground Ivy), Lamium purpureum (Purple Dead Nettle)andTaraxacum officinale (Dandelion). Weeds sighted but not in bloom are: Arctium minus(Lesser Burdock), Impatiens capensis (Touch-me-not) and Polygonum cuspidatum(Japanese Knotweed). Be aware of Toxicodendron radicans (Poison Ivy). It is beginning to leaf out so it is fairly easy to detect its shiny red leaves of three.

UMass Extension Landscape Message #2 - 2014

Metro West (Acton): 

General Conditions: According to the calendar, Spring has arrived but one would not know it based on temperatures and the forecast for snow in southeastern MA. The ground is no longer completely blanketed with snow due to the recent rain and warm temperatures.In bloom areHamamelis x intermedia (Witchhazel) and the hybrid ‘Diane’. Galanthus nivalis (snowdrops) have emerged and are not yet in bloom but are revealing some of their white flowers. Pests/Problems:As expected with the snow melt, damage from ground critters tunneling through lawn areas and garden beds has been exposed as well as the damage to turf from snow removal.

Mar 28, 2014

UMass Extension Landscape Message #3 - 2014

Metro West (Acton): 

General Conditions: The ground is void of most snow now but Monday morning; the last day of March did bring a wintry mix of rain, sleet and snow. Thankfully, just hours later there was nothing to show for it. Signs of spring are minimal but none the less, they are slowly revealing themselves. The length of day light is growing daily; maple trees are tapped for syrup; buds are swelling; landscape crews are out in force beginning their spring clean ups and in bloom are: Adonis vernalis (winter aconite), Crocus sp., Galanthus nivalis (snowdrops), Hamamelis x intermedia (witchhazel) and the hybrid ‘Diane’. 3.21” of rain was recorded in Acton over the weekend bringing the monthly precipitation total to 4.72”, which is just shy of the March average of 4.83”. Other weather data of note recorded for the month of March were the three days of sub-zero temperatures (the 1st, 4th and 7th), over 4.5” of snow, a low temperature of -5° on March 4th and a high temperature of 58° on March 28thPests/Problems: Rodent damage in lawn and in bed areas is now apparent with the snow melt as are some weeds. Seen flourishing everywhere are Alliaria petiolata(Garlic Mustard) andRanunculus ficaria (Fig Buttercup).

April 4th 2014

UMass Extension Landscape Message #5 - 2014

Metro West (Acton): 

General Conditions: The metro west area experienced a number of weather related events this past week including strong winds on both the 14th and 15th with gusts reaching up to 46 mph on the 14th causing a lot of downed tree limbs, higher than average temperatures on the 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th, 0.53” of rain received on the 15th that turned to snow in the late hours. Soils remain well saturated with a total of 1.5” of rain recorded for this month. In full bloom are a number of woody and herbaceous plants including: Adonis vernalis (Winter Aconite),Claytonia virginica (Spring Beauty), Cornus mas (Corneliancherry Dogwood), Crocus sp., Forsythia spp. (Forsythia), Galanthus sp. (Snowdrop), Hamamelis x intermedia‘Diane’ and H. ‘Arnold Promise’ (Witchhazel)Helleborous niger (Christmas Rose), Hyacinthus spp. (Hyacinth), Lindera obtusiloba (Japanese spicebush),Narcissus spp. (Daffodil), Petasites japonicas (Japanese Butterbur), Pieris japonica (Japanese Pieris), Puschkinia libanotica (striped squill), Sanguinaria canadensis (Bloodroot), Scilla siberica (Siberian squill) and Symplocarpus foetidus (Skunk Cabbage). Lawns are greening up. Before we know it, the mowers will be out! Pests/Problems:Winter burn on evergreens is apparent especially on Buxus sp. (Boxwood), Ilex sp. (Holly) and conifers. Erosion is occurring with the heavy rain fall. Ticks are active so continue to monitor yourself and others for these parasites. Wear light color clothes to make the job easier on you. Mosquitoes are now active as well. Seen flourishing everywhere are Alliaria petiolata (Garlic Mustard) and Ranunculus ficaria (Fig Buttercup). Cardamine hirsuta(Bittercress), a white flowering, diminutive weed is in full bloom this week and thankfully is not as aggressive as the above mentioned invasive plants.

April 18, 2014

UMass Extension Landscape Message #6 - 2014

Metro West (Acton): 

General Conditions: Soils remain saturated despite the lack of any significant rain this past week. Nonetheless, each day brings new signs of spring. Lawns continue to green up. A bale of Painted Turtles was seen on Tuesday sunning themselves on a log in a pond. Woody plants seen in bloom this past week are Acer platanoides (Norway Maple),A. rubrum (Red Maple), A. saccharinum (Silver Maple), Chaenomeles speciosa(Common Flowering Quince), Cornus mas (Corneliancherry Dogwood), Forsythia spp. (Forsythia), Lindera benzoin (Common Spicebush), Magnolia stellata (Star Magnolia), M. soulangiana(Saucer Magnolia), Pieris japonica (Japanese Pieris), Prunus spp. (Cherry) and Rhododendron mucronulatum (Korean Rhododendron). Both flower and leaf buds on a number of different woody plants are swelling and ready to burst but contributing even more color and interest to the landscape are some flowering herbaceous plants and spring ephemerals including: Asarum europaeum (European Ginger), Chionodoxa luciliae (Glory of the Snow), Crocusspp. (Crocus), Dicentra canadensis (Squirrel Corn), D. cucullaria (Dutchman’s Breeches),Helleborous spp.(Christmas Rose), Hyacinthus spp. (Hyacinth), Mertensia virginica (Virginia Bluebells), Muscari sp. (Grape Hyacinth), Narcissus spp. (Daffodil), Omphalodes cappadocica (Navelwort), Pachysandra procumbens(Alleghany Spurge), P. Terminalis (Japanese Pachysandra), Petasites japonicas (Japanese Butterbur),Primulaspp. (Primrose), Pulmonaria sp. (Lungwort), Puschkinia scilloides (Striped Squill), Sanguinaria canadensis (Bloodroot), S. canadensis ‘Multiplex’ (Double Bloodroot), Scilla siberica (Siberian Squill), Shortia uniflora (Nippon Bells), Trillium erectum(Red Flowering Trillium), Tulipa spp. (Tulip), Vinca minor (Periwinkle) and Violaspp. (Violet). Pests/Problems: Black flies are now active and ticks and mosquitoes continue to be active and feed. Continuing to grow and thrive in what seems like anywhere and everywhere are Alliaria petiolata (Garlic Mustard) and Ranunculus ficaria (Fig Buttercup). Other weeds seen in bloom but without the invasive tendency of the previous two mentioned are: Glechoma hederacea (Ground Ivy) and Lamium purpureum(Purple Dead Nettle).

© David Vernon Sibel Sr. 2017