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The native white pine

Many of us know that the strongest wood available from our native forest is the oak family of trees. The value of the wood from these trees was almost that of gold at one time during the 1700's. The king of the trees was the white pine and it was so valuable that this tree was one of the reasons we fought the War of Independence in 1776. In 1761, the British government passed a law in England that all white pines growing in the colonies that had growth 24 inches diameter and upwards at 12 inches from the earth belonged to the Royal Navy. No such tree, they said, "shall be cut without a license" from the Kingdom of Great Britain.

In 1774 The American Congress passed a law stopping the export of all white pine trees from its shores. In 1775 the lumbermen from Machias, Maine overtook the armed British Warship "Margaretta" and turned her into a privateer against the British. The same year the patriots of Portsmouth, New Hampshire seized the British storage yards where hundreds of tall white pine logs were ready for shipment to England for ship's masts. In 1777, John Paul Jones used those same logs to build a mast for the "Ranger," our first warship, and it flew the "Stars and Stripes."

And you thought it was just a tree! Well, as just a tree, it is the finest evergreen tree you can plant on your property. If the white pine is not disturbed it will grow for up to 400 years. The white pine is the tallest growing tree native to eastern North America, and is the state tree of Maine and Michigan.

White pines are easily transplanted because of a wide spider web like root system that grows shallow in the soil. It will thrive in a well-drained sandy soil, but if you plant it in a rich moist soil in a sunny location this tree will have no match for its looks. When the tree is young, it will have a pyramidal shape and hold green foliage right to the ground, making a great screen plant. As it matures, the tree opens up and spreads out, often with a flat top, and the branches become irregularly shaped. Most white pines grow from a single trunk and seldom need pruning. Plant them in groups and they will protect you from the wind and muffle the noise on the other side of the planting. Once the pine grows to 25 to 30 feet tall, it will provide you with a beautiful living area under the branches as they mature.

White pines will grow 1 to 3 feet a year when established and mature to 50 to 80 feet tall and 20 to 50 feet wide. The needles are soft to the touch and grow to 4 to 5 inches long. The needle color will range from medium green to blue green and they develop in a bunch of five. Each needle cluster will stay on the tree for a year and a half before falling from the tree. The ground will have a thick blanket-like covering under the tree of brown needles, often choking out the weeds. The soil is traditionally acid for the best growth so keep the limestone away from this plant. When young, fertilize spring and fall until the trees reach 10 feet tall. Use an acid-based tree food such as Holly-Tone.
Plant the white pine as specimen plant on the front lawn and prune it to keep the pyramidal shape. This tree will make a wonderful plant when used in groups for screening or hedges for privacy. White pine will not do well when planted on the side of the road as it will suffer from road salt, air pollution, ozone and sulfur dioxide damage. It will not do well in a clay type soil or areas with standing water. If you park your car under the tree you will compact the soil and hurt the tree roots, so stay off! The tree will get back to you by dripping "pitch" on your car and remove the paint. Enjoy.
Spring Song (Mendelssohn)
Spring Song (Mendelssohn)

Canadian Hemlock

To me the Canadian hemlock is the most beautiful evergreen tree that grows wild or under cultivation in all of New England. This is a "grand" native plant with soft evergreen needles on arching branches. The needle is 1/2 to 3/4 inch long and flat with a rounded tip, making it soft to touch. The top of the needle is dark green with a glossy finish. The bottom side of the needle has two silvery stripes running from end to end. When the wind blows, the underside of the needle becomes visible and makes the plant almost shimmer as it sways with the wind.

The Canadian hemlock grows in a rounded pyramidal shape. The new growth gives the tree a soft and almost feathery look. The plant is always thick and will hold inner foliage for many years, making it a wonderful privacy plant or noise barrier plant. The hemlock will also keep needles on the lower branches, right to the ground, unlike many evergreen trees as they mature and grow tall. When allowed to grow naturally and not pruned, the hemlock will grow to 70 feet tall and 25 to 35 feet wide.

Canadian hemlock looks great on your lawn as a single plant or in groups with underplantings of large leaf evergreens such as holly, rhododendron and azaleas. When planted on 10-foot centers, these plants will quickly grow together, creating a wonderful hedge. Prune the front and back of the hedge to control the width of the plant but not the sides. This will help fill in the space between plants faster. Once they fill in, prune both the front and back. The height is up to you--from 6 feet to the clouds. To control height, prune during March or April before the new growth starts. This way the new growth will fill in any spaces you open up during pruning, and the new growth that develops will keep the plant soft-looking, even though you have cut the plant like a wall.

Hemlocks will grow in sun or shade but must have a soil rich in organic matter--like compost or peat moss--that is able to hold moisture. When planting in clay type soils, add organic matter to improve the drainage, and the plant will do well. Sandy soils, like those on Cape Cod, must be conditioned with organic matter and watered regularly to have a nice plant. Hemlocks prefer a soil that is acid so do not add limestone near the plants!

The Canadian hemlock will make a small brown cone 1/2 to 3/4 inches long on new growth, dangling down from the tips of the branches with the point at the bottom. When there are many cones noticeable on the plant, they look like Christmas ornaments decorating the tree. Birds of all types love this tree, as it makes a great nesting plant. During the winter, the birds that stay around can hide in the thick foliage and stay out of the fury of the storm. Planted in an area where you feed the birds, the hemlock is perfect as birds can check out the feeding area for the neighbor's cat before they fly to the feeder.

When planting hemlocks, use plenty of peat moss or compost and water two time a week. Use a plant root stimulator like  Bio-Tone that contains mycorrhizia. This will increase root development much faster. Hemlock has one problem in Southern New England and south. A little insect called "wooly adelgid," that looks like small pieces of cotton, develops on the underside of the needles. Thanks to Bayer Lawn and Garden research, a product called "Tree and Shrub" applied to the base of the tree yearly will keep the tree insect free. It works systemically; just pour on the ground at the base of the tree and it will move right up to the top of the tree without spraying. Best of all, you can do it yourself--saving money. One application will last one year. Feed young plants yearly with Holly-Tone fertilizer. As you travel into Northern New England, you will see the Canadian hemlock growing with pines, spruces, maples and oaks in perfect harmony. The cold winters keep the wooly adelgid away in Northern growing areas, or the forest would have some real problems with this insect. This is a GREAT plant for your property.
Amazing Nature HD (Plants Growing)
Amazing Nature HD 
(Plants Growing)

Norway Spruce with cones

The Norway Spruce is my favorite spruce tree and on my top 5 evergreen trees list. Once you see this tree and come to know it, you will never forget it because it is so unique and stands out among all other evergreen trees. The Norway Spruce is a native tree of Central Northern Europe and the most common tree in the forests there. Used mostly for lumber today, it was once an important wood for ship building in the early days of sailing. The tree grows large and made wide boards that were very strong due to the high amount of pitch in them--perfect for the sides of the ship. In the 1700's and 1800's, the White Pine tree was heavily cut for lumber here and was replaced in the forest with seedlings of the Norway Spruce because it grew faster-- almost 2 feet per year. The White Pine tree grows 12 to 18 inches per year. Reforestation projects in Eastern Canada and Northeast United States changed the forest forever. The tree grew to 100 feet tall and 40 feet wide in just 50 y ears. In Europe, the climate is a bit milder and the tree can grow twice the height. The mix of White Pine and Norway Spruce has helped to produce a better forest and the two trees grow well together.

In the landscape, the Norway Spruce is the most common tree used today. The tree grows in a pyramidal shape, and its outline in the sky is very noticeable. The tree has a strong single central trunk with evenly spaced horizontal branches running up the trunk that turn up on the tips of the branches and secondary branches that grow weeping down or pendulous. All the new growth that develops grows down from the main stems, often giving the tree a weeping appearance from those strong horizontal branches. The needles are dark green on both sides and grow 1/2 to 1 in long. The dark green color will stay dark all year long unlike most evergreens, that tend to fade during the winter months.

In the spring, the Norway Spruce will make cones for seed; this is unusual because it will develop a cone that is purple-violet to greenish-purple when young. The cone will grow 4 to 6 inches long; when it matures the color will change to brown like all other trees. The cones develop on the tips of the weeping branches and look like ornaments on your Christmas tree. The cones usually come in groups and are very noticeable when young with the unique color, but are just as beautiful when older and brown. The cones will grow 3/4 to 1 inch wide and up to 9 inches long.

Plant the Norway in a well-drained soil kept moderately moist at all times. Like the White Pine Tree, it does prefer an acidic soil, so keep the limestone away from the plant when you treat the lawn. This tree will make a fantastic wind-break, sound barrier, or privacy plant. In your yard, the tree will be perfect as a background plant for lower growing evergreen plants like rhododendrons, hollies and zaaleas or smaller flowering trees like dogwood, crabapples or cherries. Tall growing perennials are also perfect around this plant. Plant this tree where you can also look at it while on your patio or deck so you can enjoy the unusual branching structure. On a windy day the swaying branches are fun to watch. When it snows, the tree is beautiful to look at, and it is strong so do not worry that the horizontal branches will break with the weight of the snow.

Newly planted trees should be watered 2 times a week and fertilized with Holly-Tone fertilizer spring and fall until it reaches 10 feet tall. Place a blanket of bark mulch 3 inches thick around the plant to help cool the roots during the summer and help hold moisture in the ground. Insect and disease problems are few. This is a tree with character and you will enjoy all of its qualities.
blooming Flowers
blooming Flowers

"Though an old man, I am a young gardener. "

Thomas Jefferson

Twice Baked Southern Sweet Potatoes

If you like stuffed Sweet Potatoes with lots of butter, brown sugar and Marshmallows, this recipe will bring raves to your dinner table. Try adding crispy bacon, fresh cut chives, and a double dose of cheese to turn this southern potato to a northern treat with your favorite steak, pork roast or even turkey. This southern vegetable dish is equivalent to a Pecan pie for desert. White potatoes move over.

4- to 1 pound sweet potatoes
1 tablespoon of olive oil
cup of shredded Parmesan cheese, about 4 ounces
2 tablespoons of Butter
3 to 4 tablespoons of fresh chopped chives
1 Tablespoon of cool whip or whip cream
teaspoon of salt
teaspoon of fresh ground pepper
3 to 4 ounces of Goat cheese, softened
6 slices of Hickory- smoked bacon slices, cooked and crumbled
Garnish with crumbled goat cheese and chopped fresh chives

1} Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Pierce your potatoes all over with a fork and rub them with olive oil. Place in a foil lined baking sheet, bake at 400 degrees for 1 hour or until tender. Remove potatoes from the oven and reduce the heat to 350 degrees.

2} let your potatoes stand and cool enough to handle. Cut your potato in half the long way: scoop out the potato pulp and leave about inch attached to the shin to help hold it together. Place the potato pulp in a medium size bowl and mash. Add your parmesan cheese, butter, chopped chives, whipped cream or cool whip, salt, pepper and goat cheese chunks, and mash until smooth. Spoon the potato mixture into the sweet potato skins and place the filled skins back on your baking sheet, skin down. Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees until thoroughly heated.

3} Remove from the oven and Sprinkle crumbled bacon, crumbled goat cheese and fresh chopped chives as a garnish and serve. Enjoy!

Day to look forward to:

Daylight Saving day March 13 only 17 days away

St. Patrick's Day March 17 only 21 days away

Spring arrives March 20 only 24 days away

Easter Sunday March 27 only 31 days away



Garden Journal

        Garden Journal - A garden is a friend you can visit any time. Gardens require planning and cultivation, yielding beauty and joy. This garden journal helps make planning and organizing easy. This book makes a great gift for gardeners, family, friends, birthdays, Christmas, new home or as a self purchase.


Cover holds a 5 x7 or 4x6 photo, Heavy-duty D-ring binder

1. 8 tabbed sections
2. 5 garden details sections with pockets for seeds, tags....
3. Weather records page
4. 6 three year journal pages
5. Insect & diseases page - 3 project pages
6. 3 annual checklist pages
7. Plant wish list page
8. 2 large pocket pages
9. Sheet of garden labels
10. 5 garden detail sheets
11. 5 graph paper pages for layouts
12. 5 photo pages holds - 4- 4x6 photos in landscape or portrait format

Journal, Planning, Inspirations. 

 To Order call 207-590-4887

Regular price $34.95  Special Price $31.95! 

special!        Supplies are now limited!


Don't forget to get ready for the stormy weather ahead of us.  Make sure to get your Ice Melt it is organic and safe for plants, pets and Children.
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