Berry Patch

HIghbush blueberry flowers
HIghbush blueberry flowers

Can there be anything better than eating a plump berry at it’s peak?   Supermarket fruit can’t compare to ripe berries picked and eaten out of hand.  No wonder more and more people are growing their own!

Most berry bushes require no more care than landscape shrubs.  Apart from annual pruning, there is not much in the way of work to be done to keep them productive.  Just plant them in full sun, and plan on a bountiful harvest this summer!

We have both high and lowbush blueberries in stock and are expecting some 5-6′ Highbush Blueberry ‘Elliot’ next week.  This late variety is a vigorous plant that performs very well in our climate, while producing a heavy crop of berries.   We also have a wide aray of Raspberries, Blackberries, and Gooseberries for you to choose from, that will provide you with the highest quality fruit for years to come.

Pruning Blackberries and Raspberries

Blackberry leaves

In the rose family, the genus Rubus includes cultivated red, golden, purple  and black rapsberries as well as blackberries.  Homeowners and landscapers alike can be confused about pruning these berries.

Consider growing these plants on a wire trellis system to promote good air flow  and facilitate training.

Blackberries grow long arching canes that are often very lengthy and thorny.  The fruit is borne on canes that are more than one year old.   However, the most productive canes are not older than three years.  In March, remove the oldest canes at ground level, in favor of the younger ones.   Cut back any lateral brances to six or eight inches.    Head back canes to 6″ above the top wire.  In summer, tip back new growth to 6″ above the top wire to encourage lateral fruiting branches.

Raspberries produce upright canes that are generally shorter than blackberries.  Most types of raspberries are summer-fruiting.  The fruit is borne on canes that have overwintered from the previous season.  These second-year canes will flower, fruit and then die back to the ground.  In March, remove any dead, damaged or spindly canes at ground level.

Some raspberries are fall-fruiting.  These types produce canes that will flower and fruit at the top part of the cane in the first growing season.  Over the winter they will die back somewhat, but will then flower and fruit on the lower cane portion in summer.  After this second fruiting, the entire cane will die.  The best way to maintain these types is to mow all canes to ground level in March.  This will produce a single crop in the fall.

Gardening in Cyberspace

April on Nantucket can still have it’s share of unpredictable weather,  ranging from warm and sunny to driving rain and wind, with freezing temperatures still possible.

Rainy days are the perfect excuse to turn on the computer and check out your favorite gardening sites.  UMASS Amherst has a great extension site: has loads of fact sheets to help you with specific garden and landscape questions.

If you like a more visual explanation, Fine Gardening magazine’s site boasts a whole range of informative clips at And while you are browsing the web, be sure to check out our brand new website Happy surfing!

Spring Flowering Shrubs

Spring on Nantucket has a way of being mostly grey.  Luckily, we have a wide selection of spring flowering trees and shrubs to brighten up the landscape.  With masses of yellow flowers, Forsythia x intermedia is hard to miss in full bloom.  As part of a hedgerow or boundary planting, it’s superb.  It provides color in spring, and great screening in summer due to a dense habit and pleasant green leaves.

If you need something a little smaller, Spiraea thunbergii ‘Ogon’ might be just the ticket.  This three-season performer starts early.  It leafs out before many other shrubs in the landscape, and soon after it’s branches are covered in white flowers.  In summer its willowy, yellow-chartreuse foliage is the main attraction.

So, whether you fall back on an old standard or want to try something new, we have a plant in the yard to fit your space.  And if you don’t see what you want, we would be happy to order it for you!

Spring Digging Season

Malus ‘Donald Wyman’

Digging field grown trees and shrubs is done in the spring, before buds begin to break.  At this time, woody plants are the least susceptible to transplant shock; plants do not tolerate root disturbance at times of peak growth and during warmer weather.  Keep in mind that any trees that tend to bud out early, like crabapples, will have the most limited time-frame of availability.

The majority of our suppliers were affected by the massive amounts of snow that were dumped onto most of the country in February and early March.  For this reason, digging began a little later than in average years. However, the recent warm weather will likely bring the digging season to an early close.  Should you require specific varieties, or sizes for upcoming projects, please let us know as soon as possible.  Once digging has ended, selection is much more limited on large and specialty material.

No Blooms?

Getting Hydrangeas to bloom reliably year to year requires a little bit of horticultural knowledge.  Hydrangea paniculata and arborescens cultivars bloom on wood produced during the current growing season, and can handle severe pruning or winter die-back, and still flower heavily.

Generally, Hydrangea macrophylla cultivars bloom on the previous season’s woody stems.  Severe pruning or winter die-back of these types will remove over-wintering flower buds, sacrificing the current season’s show.

In short, Hydrangea paniculata and arborescens can be pruned to shape and size as you desire without affecting flowers.  However, avoid severe pruning on Hydrangea Macrophylla – the best cultural practice is to remove dead wood and a small portion of the oldest, least productive, stems.  It is not necessary to top Hydrangea macrophylla.  Leave the tips of healthy stems in tact for the maximum number of flowers.   If you must top them, do not remove more than 2.5 – 3′ in height, as most flower buds are formed in the top three feet of these shrubs.

New varieties of Hydrangea macrophylla have been developed that bloom on old wood as well as new growth.  The Endless Summer © series is now widely available and nearly guarantee flowers, even with heavy pruning or die-back.  We carry a wide assortment of hydrangeas to choose from, in large and small sizes, ready to make any garden even more beautiful.  Come in and take a look!

The Frost Blankets Are Coming Off!

Perennials bursting into growth in the courtyard

Spring clean-ups are a great time to take stock in the garden. While you tidy up beds for the spring flush of growth, why not start a list of perennial needs for the upcoming season?

We are uncovering a large inventory of fully vernalized perennials for shade and sun. These have been over-wintered here at the nursery. These plants are ready for planting as long as the soil is workable. Our vendors will be shipping a wide variety of the best quality stock to us during the upcoming weeks to further expand our selection. If you have special requests or need quantities of particular varieties, please let us know – we are always happy to order in what you need.


Salix integra ‘Hakuru Nishiki’ – Dappled Willow twigs
Magnolia X Soulangiana Buds