WellesleyWeston Magazine

SPRING 2018

Launched in 2005, WellesleyWeston Magazine is a quarterly publication tailored to Wellesley and Weston residents and edited to enrich the experience of living in two of Massachusetts' most desirable communities.

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* * * Last fall, the program graduated its latest class, 25 from its program at Tower Hill and 40 from Elm Bank. Each of them had attended a once-a- week, all-day session for seven weeks in the spring and the same for seven weeks in the fall — complete with written homework assignments. They were also required to perform 60 hours of volunteer work under the supervision of a veteran Master Gardener. Students pay a $700 fee to cover instruction and supplies. "We're one of the least expensive courses around horticulture that you can find in the area," said Steve Shaw, a retired Weston elementary school principal who has overseen the Elm Bank classes since 2014 and been a Master Gardener since 2012. Shaw said that while most of the students are women, men do make up a large share. Because of the program's time demands, participants tend to be retired or semi-retired. They come from a variety of back- grounds, with a surprising number of physicians, Shaw said. Most, but not all, have been amateur or professional gardeners. "Anybody can learn this," he said. "If they have the time and the passion to do the work, then I guarantee that they will do well as a Master Gardener." We asked Sonja Johanson, president of the Massachusetts Master Gardener Association, to address common misconceptions about gardening. J U I C E I M A G E S ( J U C ) FOR MORE TIPS, visit www.massmastergardeners.org or call or contact the help line at the Massachusetts Horticultural Society's Elm Bank Reservation at 617.933.4929 or mghelpline@masshort.org. Misconception I should add lime to my soil every year. Fact Soil enhancements, whether lime or fertilizers, should be added based on need. Excess lime can cause your soil to be too alkaline, and nutrient buildup can actually harm plants. The University of Massachusetts provides inexpensive and accurate soil tests with specific recommendations for your garden or lawn. Visit ag.umass.edu/services/soil-plant-nutrient-testing- laboratory/ordering-information-forms Misconception Leaving clippings on my lawn will cause thatch. Fact Lawn clippings quickly decompose and will return nutrients to the soil. Leaving them in place can significantly improve soil health. Misconception It's sunny in my yard in the morning, so I have "full sun." Fact Many plants, especially those that are edible, require full sun to do well, but not all hours of sunlight are equal. Early morning and late afternoon sun is weaker and does not allow plants to produce as much sugars for energy as midday sun. If you are growing a plant which requires full sun, you need at least six hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Misconception Ants eat the waxy coating off peony buds, allowing them to bloom. Fact Ants are attracted to small openings on the buds called "nectaries." The plants provide ants with nectar, and in return they keep other insects away. But while ants benefit the peonies, they aren't necessary for the blossoms to open. Misconception I should prune my rhododendron bushes in the spring/fall. Fact Flowering shrubs generally set flower buds for the next year after they finish flowering. Pruning too early or too late can remove these buds, preventing flowering the following year. Generally, it is best to prune immediately after flowering. If you would like help finding the best pruning time for a specific flowering shrub, put in a call to the help line. 64 Master Gardeners W e l l e s l e y W e s t o n M a g a z i n e | s p r i n g 2 0 1 8

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