Unity’s February 2023 Newsletter

February is the shortest winter month and if we’re lucky this year it will be the coldest. This winter has been a mild one so far; wet, muddy, and mild. Leaf buds have begun to swell on tree branches, daffodils have pushed the soil away and are showing their green blades above the ground. Garlic shoots are making themselves known too. It looks like spring may come early.

Here at the nursery, we pay close attention to the weather. We utilize an online tool found through the University of Maryland extension office to calculate “degree days” for our region. We know, based on “degree days”, that we’ve had 22 more days above 54 degrees Fahrenheit so far this year than we did at this time last year. It is helpful to check this data as the number of warm days indicates when certain pests are expected to begin hatching and allow for more precise management of them.It's likely we won’t see the consequences of this unseasonably warm weather until later in the year. When trees leaf out in a few months we will see the cold damage done to the leaf buds that are swelling now. If you have trees or shrubs with swollen buds that you would like to protect in the cold weather coming this weekend you can cover or wrap them with a blanket, burlap, a sheet or even cardboard.

Now, onto some less or maybe more heart wrenching updates depending on how you feel about Valentine’s Day. February is the season of love according to Hallmark. At Unity we will be running a few specials, but you won’t be finding bouquets of roses here. The majority of the roses that we see at the grocery store and florist have travelled from trucks to planes, in refrigerated spaces, back to trucks again to reach us. These roses are harvested to meet the demand of Valentine’s Day and come from Ecuador and Columbia. While we can all understand the urge to buy these classic symbols of love from the store consider a more local, more sustainable option. Pots and plants that won’t die in a matter of days are a worthwhile choice. I for one, love to buy presents for my buddies find this holiday to be a bummer for one reason or another! This week we are sending out a separate note to highlight our Valentine’s Day specials so, stay tuned.

Martha O'Neill, Retail Nursery Manager

Echincaea purpurea seedlings

Nursery Production
When it is cold outside, we are grateful to be able to work in a warm greenhouse amongst green and growing plants. For a few weeks now, we've been planting seeds for our perennial landscape plugs. Pictured at left are some Echinacea purpurea seedlings just poking out of the soil. Next week, we'll start potting up our first shipment of perennial and grass liners which we'll grow out and have ready for this Spring and Summer. We buy in liners because we aren't able to grow these from seed or propagate them as many are patented selections or hybrids of native species chosen because they have some special feature such as disease-resistance, a unique color, or a more compact habit better suited to a home garden. One example is Echinacea purpurea 'Pica Bella' which Mt. Cuba trialed and called "one of the most outstanding cultivars we evaluated" and "a favorite among pollinators." Its flowers resemble that of the species but the plant is more compact and floriferous. Another example is the native, fall-blooming Helianthus salicifolius 'Autumn Gold' which only reaches 2 ft tall and is much more floriferous compared to the 8 to 10 feet tall straight species.

We've also started seeding for our herb and vegetable plants. Here is the list of what we plan to grow this year: Unity-grown herb and vegetable list. New this year, we've set up an online store where you can buy your plants now and schedule pick-up for later when you are ready to plant your garden. Click here to visit our online store.

Theresa Mycek, Production Manager

Unity Landscape Design and Build
Unity Landscape is currently preparing for a living shoreline construction project in Queenstown on the Wye River. The property has an existing revetment that didn’t completely extend the entire waterfront, only the southern portion, resulting in erosion and scour at the terminus of the revetment. This erosion eventually worked its way around the remaining water front, and several major trees were about to be lost to tidal erosion. The unprotected portion of shoreline (shown here at a high tide) is able to actively erode the native soil which is mostly clay and sand. Unity will be installing a segmented sill to break up the wave energy and will have a substantial amount of sand fill brought in on the landward side to create marsh substrate which will be planted generously with Spartina. This will create a new marsh which will provide protection from storm surge, rising tides, storms and storm water. The first phase of the project involves creating the construction road to allow machinery and large dump trucks to access the stockpile area to deliver the construction materials. The accompanying photos show the eroding portion of land at high tide, as well as the construction access road.

Lucas Lees CBLP, ASBPA, Coastal and Environmental Design

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