Autumn 2017 Newsletter


December Flurries Herald Winter Inspiration


Winter is the season of long shadows, when the sun’s position in relationship to the earth is at its most oblique angle. Winter’s official arrival varies, depending upon how it is defined. Meteorological winter begins on December 1st, astronomical winter arrives on the December 21st, the traditional winter solstice, and horticultural winter starts in mid November after a hard, killing frost. This year’s exceptionally warm October weather came to a abrupt and withering end with the temperature plunging to 22 degrees on November 9th. The extreme cold snap cut off the development of fall color in many plants as well as freeze-drying their leaves, causing unusual and unsightly leaf retention. It was a memorable beginning to this year’s Horticultural Winter.


However you define the winter season, it is unequivocally not the end to a colorful garden. Though most plants may be dormant or quiescent, there is much magic to behold in the garden at this time of year, from buds and berries to colorful winter flowers. Build your winter border with an array of conifers and evergreens, shrubs and trees with colorful twigs and bark and persistent winter berries. Anchor your garden with the whorled, glossy evergreen foliage of umbrella pine (Sciadopytis verticillata) and punctuate it with the red twigs of dogwood (Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’) and red fruit of winterberry holly (Ilex verticillata) and red chokeberry (Aronia arbutifolia ‘Brilliantissima’). Japanese andromeda (Pieris japonica ‘Dorothy Wycoff’) is a glossy evergreen sporting clusters of bright red flower buds in winter that open to white bells in April.


Witch hazels varieties begin blooming in the dead of winter, as early as January and February. Hamamelis vernalis ‘Amethyst’ is one of the earliest, commencing flowering in late December and early January with fragrant violet blooms. A favorite is Hamamelis x ‘Jelena’. ‘Jelena’ unfurls its orange petal on warm winter days and curl up at night, witch hazels may be in bloom for a month.


Leather leaf mahonia (Mahonia bealei) is a distinctive evergreen with holly-like leaves. Fragrant yellow flowers can bloom precociously early in January and February. Their winter flowers provide food for bees venturing out on warm winter days. The coarse textured, glossy green leaves of Mahonia offers a beautiful companion to the coppery winter leaves of Lindera glauca var. 'Salicifolia'.


The winter garden can be vibrant with color as well as nuanced with subtle beauty. It is pleasing to take in the ephemeral patterns of tree shadows projected on perfectly lain snow or to note the fat buds of Magnolia stellata covered in fuzz that becomes florescent in the low winter sun. Expand your garden season by selecting many winter gems to be appreciated from views inside and out.



Acer griseum

Magnolia 'Bracken Brown Beauty'


Lindera glauca var. salicifolia

Magnolia virginiana var. australis



Ilex opaca 'Maryland Dwarf'

Potentilla tridentata


Cornus kousa

Bamboo Sunbeams


Pieris japonica 'Dorothy Wyckoff''

Spiraea thunbergii 'Ogon'



Acer carpinifolia

Cornus sericea 'Flaviramea'


Winter Shadows

Fagus grandifolia


Rhus typhinia 'Laciniata'

Lindera glauca var salicifolia and Amsonia hubrichtii




Fall Planting and Garden Maintenance



Fall is the perfect time for planting. Temperatures are a bit cooler, yet the soil is still warm. Fall planting allows perennials, bulbs, trees and shrubs to get a head start for spring. The cooler weather, and reduced humidity, also makes it more pleasant experience for the gardener. It is a terrific time to prepare the garden for winter and the spring to follow, while adding stunning fall color to the landscape.


Group plants in swaths of color to create a strong visual impact. Use asters, the stars of the late season. These reliable perennials grow all summer and then burst into blooms of blue, purple, pink and white in the fall. They also have a pleasant aroma, and support the ecosystem by providing food and habitat for pollinators. Or mass rudbeckias, sedums, alliums or golderods. Add movement with tall daylilies, such as ‘Challenger’, Helianthus ‘Salicifolia’, Rudbeckia “Henry Eilers’ or Ornamental Grasses. Contrast textures by placing plants and garden elements with bold, structural forms next to lighter, airy forms to create more interest. Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ will contrast with Blue Oat Grass (Helictotrichon sempervirens).


The end of the season is also a great time to prepare for next spring. Divide and transplant perennials in the fall. As their metabolism slows, it is much less disruptive than spring planting. Then plant flowering bulbs to add to the anticipation of the spring ahead. Visit your local garden center or check out one of our favorite bulb sources. Brent and Becky's Bulbs in Gloucester Virginia for most bulbs and for the unusual try Daffodils and More in Dalton, Massachusetts. Dave Burdick grows the lovely Colchicums (Autumn Crocus) that brighten our gardens.


Plant trees and shrubs. Conditions are ideal to help them establish themselves for spring growth. Don’t forget the autumn blooming shrubs and trees. Lespedeza thunbergia doesn’t even begin to make a showing until September. This six foot tall shrubs is covered in masses of deep pink ('Gilbraltor' or 'Spring Grove') or white flowers ('Avalanche') into October. Indigofera ambylantha blooms from June through to frost with delicate pink clusters. The branches of the Blue Mist Shrub, (Caryopteris x clandonensis) are adorned with blue flowers through August and September. A wonderful tree for fall bloom is Heptacodium miconioides, the seven son flower. It is covered in white flowers in September. When the petals drop, the pink calyxes provide color through the fall. Showcase autumn foliage to make a big impact. Add at least one tree chosen for its fall foliage. Acer griseum, the Paperbark Maple, turns a spectacular orange in autumn.


Replenish mulch layers in the garden. Around perennials, mulch should be one to two inches. Around shrubs, mulch should be 2 to 3 inches, and around trees the mulch should be about 4 inches.. Be sure to spread mulch around trees in a flat layer and keep the mulch away from the trunk of the trees. Use all those fallen leaves, either chopped or whole, as a natural mulch over your new plantings.


Create a spot to rest in the garden. A well-placed bench, pair of chairs or outdoor lounge can encourage you to slow down and appreciate the passing of the season. Look for places where you would naturally be inclined to relax, such as an area that catches the afternoon sun or a place against a wall, where you can view and admire the garden. Then sit down and take a moment to enjoy your hard work.


Irrigate, Irrigate Irrigate. The generous rainfall of the late spring and early summer, reduced the need for watering in the early season. However, August was very droughty and September continues to be dry, as well. While some areas reportedly received three inches of rain this week, in Rehoboth we measured less than ½ and inch. Deep watering, for established plants, should be necessary once a week, even during very dry periods. If we don't get a full inch of rain in a week, then plan to supplement. Newly planted perennials and shrubs will need more frequent watering. Irrigate two or three times a week, while they are getting established. Continue to water any new plantings through September and October to promote a healthy root system.


The gardens at Tranquil Lake Nursery are known for their plant combinations that provide interest from spring past frost. Visit the nursery soon to view our late season splendor. Below are some of the late season beauties you will meet.





Sedum 'Brilliant' with Pollinators

Lespedeza thunbergii

'Spring Grove'


Cimicifuga 'Hillside Black Beauty'

Sedums 'Autumn Joy' and Rudbeckia 'Goldsturm'



In the nursery gardens, there are different Alliums that bloom from spring through mid-October.

Aster novae-angliae 'Purple Dome' with Heuchera and Golden Alpine Strawberries


Callicarpa dichotoma 'Early Amethyst'- Beauty Berry

Anemone tomentosa 'Robustissima' blooming with Purple Kale


Indigofera ambylantha blooms from mid June to frost

Aster tataricus and Miscanthus grass blow in the winds


Aster tataricus

Heptacodium miconioides in

September bloom



Hydrangea paniculata 'Tardiva'

Heptacodium miconioides after the petals drop - pink calyxes through the fall


Rudbeckia 'Goldsturm' and 'Henry Eilers'

Helianthus 'Salicifolia', Aster 'Alma Potschke' and Cotinus 'Royal Purple'


Rhus typhinia 'Tiger Eyes' with Butterfly Bush and Hawthorn

Lindera glauca var. salicifolia in fall color


Annuals in the autumn garden

Verbena bonariensis and other annuals attract pollinators in the fall garden





45 River Street Rehoboth, Massachusetts 02769-1395Phone: 508-252-4002 Fax: 508-252-4740 or send an e-mail to