Unity’s October 2022 Newsletter

I write to you on the first official day of Fall. Welcome! Warm afternoons chased out by earlier and earlier sunsets; this golden time of year is one of my personal favorites. It’s a time to begin slowing down, and to take stock of what summer’s season of growth has brought, to let it all sink and settle.
Robin Wall Kimmerer has a chapter in her book “Braiding Sweetgrass” where she writes about Goldenrod and Asters. She writes about when she first went to school to study botany, she thought she could impress her professor by saying she wanted to understand why goldenrod and asters look so beautiful together.

This desire was squashed by the necessity of practical science, and for a while she forgot how taken she was by the pairing of these two plants.

New England Aster

Every fall I think of Robin Wall Kimmerer and her query about the beauty of asters and goldenrod. I love to see the goldenrod in bloom, a harbinger of fall, and the asters bursting with all their sticky shades of purple. Neither plant is easy to appreciate in the garden until it begins blooming, but when it does, you really reap the rewards. Pollinators love them both, and late bloomers that they are, it’s so worth it to enjoy the color they bring to the fall garden.

Goldenrod is oft blamed for the onset of fall allergies, but a little-known fact is that goldenrod isn’t usually the one to blame. In fact, the ragweed that blooms at the same time as goldenrod is the true culprit! Most folks are not allergic to goldenrod at all. The flower of ragweed is easy to miss because it is such an inconsequential bloom, not like goldenrod. You’d be hard pressed not to notice fields of golden flowers everywhere. Don’t be fooled, Goldenrod is a good one.

Now let’s take a minute to talk in more practical terms about fall garden tasks starting with the benefits of fall mulching.

The primary reason why fall is a good time to mulch is you are putting down a layer of insulation for your plant’s roots. This is especially good for plants that are considered “tender perennials”, those that need a little assistance to make it through a harsh winter, but the whole garden benefits. By adding mulch, you are feeding your soil, as mulch eventually breaks down and integrates into the soil. For this reason, it’s good to consider organic products and this is why we carry mulch without any dyes or additives here at Unity. Mulch protects topsoil from blowing away in the winter wind and of course, your fall mulch layer will be the first barrier to the spring weeds.

As you do your fall garden clean up, I urge you to take pause before cutting every perennial down to the nubs. The seed heads of coneflowers, coreopsis, bee balm and other flowering perennials provide food and habitat for birds and other creatures throughout the winter months. Consider keeping some of these around for them. If we get a good snow, you too will appreciate the structures and shapes that still exist in your garden.

Fallen leaves also provide an excellent habitat for all the creatures in the ecosystem. Even if you don’t want to let them lie where they fall consider dedicating a few areas where you can allow leaf layers to accumulate. It’s important for us to remember all the wildlife that relies on our green spaces.

One more thing! Sometimes we do not like it when wildlife relies on our green spaces, especially deer. Next week, on the evening of Thursday October 6th Unity is hosting an event with author Ruth Clausen. Ruth is the author of “Deer Resistant Native Plants for the Northeast” and will be here to tell us all about it. We will have our very own deer resistant native plants for sale too! Pre-registration is preferred, sign up here! https://deer-resistant-plant-talk.eventbrite.com 

Martha O'Neill, Retail Nursery Manager

Nursery Production
With the cooler weather and shorter days, the urgency of weeding, watering and potting up has slowed, and I finally have a chance to sit down at my desk to focus on some planning for 2023. One time sensitive task is researching and finding seed for new species of plugs. Many native seeds require a stratification period (or period of cold, moist conditions) to wake them up out of dormancy which prevents them from germinating prematurely during winter. However, we do want them to wake up a little earlier then normal for an earlier start in the greenhouse, so we mimic winter conditions by placing the seeds with some damp sand in a refrigerator for 30 up to 120 days before seeding. With a seeding date planned for early February, our seeds that need 120 days should be heading into the fridge soon. Our landscape plugs and Eco-Trays for full sun were a hit, and so we are planning to expand our offerings based on requests for more shade tolerant options.

Speaking of shade tolerant plants, a shrub that does well in part shade and which is putting on quite the show right now is our native Euonymus americanus or Strawberry Bush. We have one planted in our demo garden just in front of our main office building, so please come check it out. We currently have some available that we grew in 1-gallon sized containers. These haven't flowered or produced fruit, but if you plant them this fall, hopefully you'll have a show of your own by next year.

Theresa Mycek, Production Manager

Unity Landscape Design and Build
If you are like most, you are not looking forward to the end of Daylight Savings Time on November 6th. The longer daylight hours of summer are coming to a close but that just means it’s the perfect time to light up your outdoor spaces!

Architectural Lighting

The photo above is of a recently completed Unity Landscape low voltage lighting installation. The installed system showcased the beautiful architectural features of this lovely home.

Customer testimonial: “Unity did such a fabulous job uplighting our home! This is something we have always wanted to do, and we’re so glad we chose Unity to do it. Our home is more beautiful than ever! We can’t wait for all of our friends and family to see. Truly AMAZING!”

Low voltage outdoor lighting is essential in many residential landscapes to create ambiance and on many properties, provides an added security benefit as well. The team at Unity works with carefully selected manufacturers known for high quality and reliability and the best warranties on the market. Illuminate home, landscape material, architectural features, fountains, sculptures, and buildings. The possibilities are endless!

Landscape Lighting

Members of the Unity Landscape team recently attended a workshop to learn about the newest fixtures and techniques available for low voltage lighting systems.  

Call (410-556-6010) or email us today to schedule a consultation with one of our Lighting Specialists. They would be happy to provide a lighting demonstration and work with you to create a lighting package specific to your needs. 

Cliff Westman, Landscape Production Manager

Sandy Appel, Chief Operations Officer

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