Nurturing your World

A ruffled Hellebore

Nurturing your World

Spring has arrived and I find myself wanting to get outside and garden. Some days, that can happen. Others, it’s too cold or rainy. When I can work outside, I focus on one area, one project at time. Last Sunday, I worked WAY too hard clearing briars in my wild, wayback area. Being able to layer up makes this the best time to do this job. Thank goodness for my leather gauntlet gloves! This spot is filled with asters, goldenrod, milkweed, perennial sunflowers, Baptisias, Panicum grasses, and lots of young pussywillow plants. It is a slow and steady work in progress. 
In the rest of my yard (which is quite a bit more organized), I am gradually cutting back the stems I left up over the winter for the tunnel nesting bees. I am leaving the larger stems up 15″, to provide tunnels for this year’s bees. I am not removing the leaves on the ground unless they are burying something emerging. Those leaves are feeding my soil. I am doing some pruning of summer blooming flowering shrubs such as rose of Sharon, tree hydrangeas, and Callicarpa (beautyberry). The last of my evergreen boughs are out of my porch pots and I have brought home compost and Pro Gro to amend the soil in these pots so I can plant PANSIES!! 
This gorgeous Hellebore is ‘Rio Carnival’. I am going to add this to my porch pots and surround it with pansies for the month of April. Then it will get a place of honor in my shade garden. It is simply irresistible!
The word that keeps running around in my head right now is NURTURE. Spring is all about nurturing. At Natureworks, we talk all the time about nurturing your soil. It is so important to feed the soil with organic amendments and then the soil, and all of the beneficial microorganisms that live there, will

feed your plants. Speaking of life in the soil, right now is the time to commit to NOT using poisons on your soil. A chemical lawn company even knocked on MY door. My husband very politely told the salesman we weren’t interested. My husband  said to me he was glad I wasn’t home, as I would not have been so polite. Diane told me a funny story about the same company arriving in her yard a few years ago at the exact moment that she and her children were outside releasing beneficial ladybugs. “You just have to leave right now” was all she could manage to say as her kids giggled in the background. 

As the spring unfolds, beautiful perennial primroses such as this double Belarina ‘Amethyst Ice’ begin to bloom
Putting strong poisons on your lawn now to kill grubs also kills all the other life in the soil, both the life you can see 

Diane fed all of her houseplants with Organic Plant Magic this weekend.

and the microscopic life. Bumble bees and other native bees nest in the ground. Poisons spread on the soil will kill them. NURTURE your soil, whether it is in your veggie garden, your flower borders, or your lawn. Even your houseplant soil can be nurtured. Right now we are all stepping up the feeding of our houseplants as they are beginning to grow a lot because of the increased light. Topdress your houseplants with worm castings. Feed the soil with Organic Plant Magic. It is filled with life. 

One of the best things you can do for your soil is to take a soil test. We use the UConn Soil Nutrient Analysis Laboratory. We ask for a Standard Nutrient Analysis and Percent Organic Matter test. Click Here to link to their website. Once you get your soil test results back, feel free to bring them into

Healthy plants grow in healthy, living soil. Let us teach you how to nurture your soil.

Natureworks and let us help you figure out what you need. We are one of the few garden centers that sells both calcitic and dolomitic lime. We sell all different types of mineral powders such as azomite, greensand, and rock phosphate. We also sell excellent blended organic fertilizers from companies that I know and trust. Compost is an important part of nurturing your soil. We sell two blends, each used for different types of plants- woody, herbaceous, lawns, vegetables, and herbs. New this year we are selling Castine Blend raised bed soil from Coast of Maine as well as the very rich Stonington Blend. We will help you figure out exactly what you need. 

Mason bees emerge in late March. Are you ready to host these valuable pollinators in your yard this year?
As life slowly emerges from your soil, you will also start to hear the buzzing of our precious pollinators. The word is out that our pollinators are declining in great numbers and we all need to do our part to help. Did you know that there are over 340 native bees in CT? (not honeybees, they are from Eastern Europe.) These native pollinators come in all sizes and shapes. Some look like bees, others look more like wasps or flies. Many are specialists, pollinating only certain types of plants. One type that we are nurturing here at Natureworks is the mason bee. They are beginning to emerge from their tunnels and fly right now. Mason bees (Osmia species) are CAVITY (TUNNEL) NESTING BEES. There are about 140 mason bee species in the United States. They do not sting as they don’t have a hive or a queen to protect. One of the hardest working and easily attracted to the garden is Osmia lignaria, the orchard

mason bee or blue orchard bee. They are 120 times more effective as pollinators than honey bees!These solitary bees do not have to carry pollen back to a hive. They do not have pollen baskets on their legs. Instead, they gather pollen on the lower side of their bodies (called the scopia, think of it as the abdomen of the bee). They are very hairy and pack lots and lots of pollen (held together with a bit of nectar) on their scopia. Because they pick up and transfer so much pollen, they are VERY efficient pollinators! Mason bees mate and lay their eggs all throughout April into early May. They look for holes in rotten wood or hollow plant stems to lay their eggs OR they use mason bee houses that you can hang up to encourage them to live in your yard. 

Tune in to this weeks’ Facebook Live Thursday at 4 pm. I will be explaining how to NURTURE the life in your yard, specifically, our native pollinators. Learn which of the earliest blooming trees, shrubs, and flowers provide quality pollen and nectar resources. Learn how the way you maintain your landscape makes all the difference. It’s going to be a warm, beautiful evening for Facebook Live. Maybe you should come by and be in the audience!
With the weather warming, planting begins. I am taking home a nice collection of pansies this week. Irresistible!
Right now is the ideal time to start nurturing some seedlings indoors. Counting

back 6-8 weeks from our last frost date in mid-late May, all I can say is “It’s TOMATO PLANTING TIME!”. Naturworker Eliza is teaching two seed starting workshops in our greenhouse this weekend. Let her guide you through the process and go home with your seeds all planted. Click Here to register on line OR stop in and shop our overflowing seed racks, choose varieties that intrigue you (peppers and eggplants too), and start them in one of our growing kits. While you are here, stock up on the seeds you can direct sow soon- radishes, arugula, spinach, lettuce, carrots, beets, and more. 

The most important thing to nurture this spring is your soul. Take the time to just sit in the sun and soak up the beauty of nature. Smell the earth thawing. Listen to the bird song. Watch spring blooming bulbs rise up and bloom in one day. Treat yourself or someone you know to a spring basket of cheer. We are making the prettiest basket gardens and planters all day, every day. 
Make time to visit this week. See you very soon…
Bring home a spring basket of beauty and cheer and enjoy those bulbs year after year

P.S. Facebook Live is back on Thursday nights at 4 pm. The videos are archived on the Natureworks Facebook page. We would love it if you shared our videos with your gardening friends. Our goal is to teach you how to garden organically, week after week, the Natureworks way.