Growing Together: Mahoney’s and KidsGardening Planting the Seeds of Education and Wonder

In a world where technology often dominates children’s attention, fostering a connection to nature and instilling a love for learning can be transformative. Mahoney’s is proud to be a sponsor of the KidsGardening Garden Youth Grant Program, an initiative that aligns with our mission to create opportunities for kids to play, learn, and grow through gardening. Read on to explore the inspiring mission of KidsGardening and how Mahoney’s is contributing to happier, healthier kids and communities through this meaningful partnership.

 

 

KidsGardening’s Mission

At the heart of KidsGardening’s mission is a commitment to creating opportunities for children to play, learn, and grow through gardening. By engaging their natural curiosity and wonder, KidsGardening aims to support educators and families in providing children with the tools and resources they need to connect with the natural world. The organization offers grant funding, original educational resources, inspiration, and a supportive community to encourage more kids to learn through gardening.

 

The Impact on Kids and Communities

The belief that gardening improves kids’ lives, communities, and the planet is at the core of both Mahoney’s and KidsGardening. Gardening provides a unique avenue for every child to explore and care for the natural world, participate in hands-on learning, and gain a deeper understanding of where their food comes from. By fostering a love for gardening, KidsGardening and Mahoney’s contribute to the development of happier, healthier children who are connected to nature and equipped with valuable life skills.

 

 

Why Gardening Matters

Gardening is more than just planting seeds and watching them grow; it’s a transformative experience that goes beyond the soil. KidsGardening emphasizes the importance of every child experiencing the unique transformation that occurs when they spend time caring for a garden. Whether it’s an outdoor space, a classroom project, or a small cup on the kitchen windowsill, the act of gardening instills a sense of responsibility, curiosity, and a connection to the natural world.

 

KidsGardening’s Legacy

Since 1982, KidsGardening has been a premier support provider for youth garden programs nationwide. Through their dedication to creating opportunities for kids to play, learn, and grow, they have left an indelible mark on countless children’s lives. Mahoney’s is honored to be part of this legacy, contributing to the continued success of KidsGardening in empowering the next generation.  In 2021 alone, they reached 3.8 million children with their curriculum, lesson plans, and activities.

 

 

Mahoney’s sponsorship of the KidsGardening Garden Youth Grant Program is a testament to our shared commitment to nurturing the potential of every child through gardening. By supporting this impactful initiative, we contribute to a brighter future where children are not only connected to the natural world but also equipped with the knowledge and skills to make a positive impact on their communities and the planet. Together, Mahoney’s and KidsGardening are cultivating wonder, one garden at a time.

 

Activity of the Month

In partnership with KidsGardening, we’re thrilled to bring the joy of gardening with kids to you!  Each month we’ll be sharing an engaging hands-on activity for families to do at home. Check out our first one below, a perfect indoor activity for those just itching for the gardening season to begin!

 

February: Grow Your Own Salad

 

Cascading Wonders: A String Symphony of Succulents

Succulents have taken the gardening world by storm, and among the wide variety of these unique plants, hanging succulents are gaining popularity for their cascading beauty. There’s nothing more fun than the tantalizing “string” series of cascading succulents and we’re thrilled to talk about some of our favorites: String of Bananas, String of Dolphins, String of Fish Hooks, and String of Pearls plants. These charming succulents not only add a touch of whimsy to your indoor space but are also relatively easy to care for, making them perfect for both seasoned plant enthusiasts and beginners alike.

String of Bananas (Senecio radicans):

Known for its distinctive trailing vines resembling strings of miniature bananas, the String of Bananas plant belongs to the Senecio genus. Native to South Africa, it’s a succulent that thrives in well-draining soil and bright, indirect sunlight.

Care Tips:
– Water sparingly, allowing the soil to dry out between waterings.
– Place in a location with bright, indirect light.
– Propagate by snipping a healthy vine and planting it in soil.

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String of Dolphins (Senecio peregrinus)

A close relative of the String of Bananas, the String of Dolphins plant features leaves that resemble leaping dolphins. This succulent, also a member of the Senecio family, is a hybrid between Senecio articulatus and Senecio rowleyanus.

Care Tips:
– Provide well-draining soil and allow it to dry out between waterings.
– Place in bright, indirect light to maintain its distinctive leaf shape.
– Propagate by taking cuttings and allowing them to root before planting.

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String of Fish Hooks (Senecio radicans glauca)

Another charming succulent in the Senecio family, the String of Fish Hooks, is named for its unique hook-shaped leaves. Originating from South Africa, it’s a drought-tolerant plant that thrives in arid conditions.

Care Tips:
– Water sparingly, especially during the dormant winter months.
– Provide well-draining soil and bright, indirect light.
– Propagate by taking stem cuttings and allowing them to root.

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String of Pearls (Senecio rowleyanus):

Renowned for its spherical, bead-like leaves, the String of Pearls plant is a member of the Senecio family and hails from South Africa. Its trailing vines make it a perfect candidate for hanging baskets or as a cascading feature in container gardens.

Care Tips:
– Use a well-draining soil mix and water sparingly.
– Place in bright, indirect light, avoiding harsh, direct sunlight.
– Propagate by planting individual pearls or by snipping and planting stem cuttings.

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These lovely hanging strings are captivating succulents that bring a touch of the exotic into your living space. With their unique characteristics and relatively low-maintenance care requirements, these hanging succulents are a delightful addition to any plant collection. Whether you’re a seasoned plant enthusiast or just starting your green journey, these charming succulents are sure to captivate and add a whimsical touch to your indoor or outdoor oasis. Happy planting!

 

Embracing Change: USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map Gets an Update in 2023!

While we’re all bundled up for winter, it’s the perfect time to dive into a blooming topic that’s been making waves in the gardening community – the recent update to the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map in 2023.  

The Zone Map Shuffle: A Quick Recap 

For those new to gardening, the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map helps gardeners understand which plants are most likely to thrive in a specific region based on the average annual minimum winter temperature. It’s like a GPS for your garden, guiding you toward plants that can weather the local climate.  The map has only been updated 5 other times since its first release in 1927, so this is a big deal! 

 

  

The first Plant Hardiness Zone Map by Dr. Alfred Rehder 1927                                           The recently updated 2023 Plant Hardiness Zone Map

 

Now, drumroll, please! The 2023 update brings some exciting news for us in Massachusetts and New England. With warmer winters on the horizon, the hardiness zones are on the move, creating opportunities and challenges that every plant enthusiast should be aware of.  Previously Massachusetts fell in between 5b-7b depending on where you were in the state, and while we still fall within those zones, much of the state has now moved into the warmer zones of 6a-7a. If you’re near our Winchester, Brighton, Concord, Tewksbury, or Chelmsford stores, you’re in zone 6b!  But if you frequent our Falmouth or Osterville stores, you’re probably in 7a. 

 

Curious about far away locales and their zones?  You can play around with the brand-new interactive USDA Plant Hardiness Zone map on their website here! 

Hello, New Green Friends! 

One of the perks of this shift is the chance to welcome a broader range of plants into our gardens. With milder winters, you can experiment with species that were previously a bit finicky in the colder weather.  Want a quick and easy way to see if the new plant of your dreams would work in your zone?  A quick search of the intended plant name and the keywords ‘growing zone’ or ‘hardiness zone’ should give you the answers you’re searching for (just bear in mind that the changes are new so some growers may still be catching up).

Imagine the vibrant hues of new flowers, the exotic foliage of different shrubs, and the sweet fragrance of novel blooms gracing your backyard. It’s a plant party, and you’re invited! 

 

But Wait, Let’s Be Mindful Gardeners 

As we embrace change, it’s crucial to keep in mind the delicate balance of our local ecosystems. While the update opens doors to new plant possibilities, let’s not forget our native flora. These plants are the backbone of our environment, providing food and shelter for local wildlife. As we introduce newcomers, let’s do so responsibly and avoid pushing out the tried-and-true natives that make our region unique. 

 

The Not-So-Welcome Guests: Invasive Pests and Plants 

Warmer winters might sound like a dream, but there’s a potential downside – invasive pests and plants gaining a stronger foothold. With milder temperatures, these unwelcome guests may survive and thrive when they would have otherwise been knocked back by frosty winters. Vigilance is key, folks. Keep an eye out for any signs of invasive trouble and act promptly to keep your garden and the surrounding environment in harmony. 

 

In Conclusion: A Blooming Future 

So, there you have it – the lowdown on the 2023 USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map update. Change is in the air, and our gardens are ready to blossom with newfound potential. Let’s embrace the opportunities, be mindful stewards of our environment, and continue to cultivate the beauty that makes Massachusetts and New England truly special. 

We’re here all winter at Mahoney’s and the chilly months are perfect for planning. Stop by and let’s dream about your spring garden together! Here’s to a year of growth, both in our gardens and in our knowledge. Happy gardening, and may your plants thrive in this ever-changing, ever-exciting world! 

 

Blooming Flowers for your Valentine

Cut flowers make a beautiful gift, but if  you’re looking for something that lasts longer, consider flowering houseplants. Cyclamen, orchids, gerber daisies, kalanchoe and more make a fantastic gift. Let us help you choose the best for your special someone!

Winter Birding: The Importance of Food

 

In Massachusetts, winter is a difficult time for birds. Days are often windy and cold; nights are long and even colder. Lush vegetation has withered or been consumed, and most insects have died or become dormant. During these extremely cold days, finding food can be especially difficult. They cannot forage as easily for food when snow accumulates or temperatures drop to freezing. Some birds remain in the same location year-round and benefit greatly from the extra food sources offered by backyard feeders. These birds require high calorie and oil rich foods to survive our winter.

During spring and summer, most songbirds eat insects and spiders, which are highly nutritious, abundant, and, for the most part, easily captured. During fall and winter, nonmigratory songbirds shift their diets to fruits and seeds to survive. This is the time of year when bird feeding enthusiasts roll out the welcome mat and set the table. The question is, what to serve to attract a diversity of birds? The answer is to provide a variety of food types.

In Massachusetts, we can expect to see the friendly Black-capped Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, the spectacularly colored Northern Cardinal, all manner of Finch, Sparrows, Woodpeckers and Jays; for a comprehensive list, check out Mass Audubon’s website!

 

Which seed types should I provide?

Black-oil sunflower seeds attract the greatest number of species. These seeds have a high meat-to-shell ratio, they are nutritious and high in fat which is especially important in the winter months. Their small size and thin shells make them easy for small birds to handle and crack. Several studies, including the Cornell Lab of Ornithology Seed Preference Test, show that this high-energy food is the favorite of most birds that visit feeders. Striped sunflower seeds are popular with larger-beaked birds. These striped seeds are larger and have a thicker seed coat than black-oil sunflower.

Peanuts, and tree nuts like almonds, cashews, pecans and pistachios are enjoyed by Jays, Woodpeckers, Chickadees, Nuthatches, Carolina Wrens and Titmice. If you don’t want squirrels “going nuts” for these foods, try using a squirrel-resistant feeder.

Millet is a small round seed. It comes in white and red varieties; most birds prefer white proso millet over red. Nyjer®, or thistle seed, is a delicacy for small Finches such as Goldfinches, Siskins, and Redpolls. Offering the small-sized, premium-priced Nyjer seeds in special Nyjer feeders will provide more value for your money. These feeders come in either a sock form with a small mesh fabric, or a tube feeder with tiny ports that prevent the seeds from spilling out. Finches will pull the seeds individually through the mesh or ports to enjoy them.

Birds’ feeding habits vary based on weather patterns and season. The best thing to do is experiment with seed and your backyard feeders. Take notes and photos for a personal sense of well-being and a great activity to do with kids!

lyric-cardinal_detail lyric-supreme

We love Lyric Bird Seed because of their superior ingredients that ensure our New England birds have their essential nutrients to thrive- especially in the winter months. A superior seed means you will attract the widest variety of birds around! All birding products are available in our Winchester, Falmouth, Tewksbury and Concord stores.

SHOP BIRDING PRODUCTS ONLINE

Project Update: Mahoney’s Brighton

Even though an incredible renovation is underway at Mahoney’s Brighton we’re still open! With a temporary greenhouse and adjusted store layout, you’ll find fresh greens, Christmas trees, ornaments, houseplants, pottery and more to celebrate the holiday season. We can’t wait for our new and improved store to be complete in early Spring ’24 with a huge new greenhouse and refreshed shopping experience for all of Boston to enjoy. Our new greenhouse and indoor shopping space is being built as we speak, stop by for your holiday shopping and sneak a peek of what’s to come!

 

 

 

 

ARRANGING WINTER GREENS

It’s the perfect time to arrange your cut greens in window boxes and planters before the soil freezes! Here’s a quick look at how Julia spruced up the window boxes in front of our Winchester store yesterday. Stop in this weekend for fresh cut greens, wreaths, garlands and all of the decorative accessories you’ll need to personalize your display!

Frost covered branch image

Getting Your Garden Cozy for Winter: A New England Guide

 

As the temperatures drop and the days grow shorter, it’s essential to prepare your garden for the brisk New England winter. While we may be bidding farewell to our colorful blooms, there’s no reason your garden can’t be a haven of beauty and potential even during the cold season. Proper winterization will help protect your plants, garden structures, and soil, ensuring a healthy and vibrant garden in the coming spring! So, grab your gardening gloves, and let’s get to work on prepping your garden for a cozy New England winter! 

 

Prune Sparingly and Leave the Leaves

Gently prune any dead, damaged, or diseased parts of your perennial plants and remove them from your garden While it may be tempting to do a big fall cleanup, consider resisting the temptation. For more information about the benefits of “leaving the leaves” click here!  

 

Bury Those Bulbs

One key task during this season is planting bulbs that will burst forth in a symphony of colors come spring. Fall is the opportune time to tuck bulbs into the soil, allowing them the necessary period of dormancy to thrive in the warmer months. If you’re eager to delve into the art of fall bulb planting, be sure to check our detailed guide to fall bulb planting. Discover the joy of anticipation as you envision the beauty that will unfurl in your garden when winter’s chill gives way to the blossoming wonders of spring.

 

Mulch It Up

Mulch is your garden’s best friend in winter. A thick layer of mulch (about 2-4 inches) will help insulate your plants’ roots and protect them from the harsh cold. Use organic mulch such as leaves, straw, or compost. This not only keeps the soil temperature more stable but also enriches it with nutrients for the coming spring.

 

Click to order bagged mulch and compost

 

 

Protect Vulnerable Plants

Some plants, especially newly planted ones, are more susceptible to frost and freezing temperatures. Protect them by covering them with burlap or frost cloth. Be sure to remove these covers during the day to allow for sunlight and air circulation. Most evergreen shrubs would also benefit from an application of Wilt Stop. This will reduce moisture loss during the winter months and protect plants from windburn.  

 

Bring Potted Plants Indoors

If you have potted plants that aren’t winter-hardy, bring them inside before the first frost. Place them in a sunny spot, and don’t forget to water them sparingly, as they won’t need as much moisture in the winter months. 

 

Clean and Store Tools

Before winter sets in, it’s a good idea to clean and store your gardening tools properly. Make sure they are free of dirt and moisture to prevent rust. This will ensure they’re ready to go when spring comes around. But if winter does get the best of your tools, you can find the tools to meet your needs here. 

 

Plan Ahead!

Winter is a wonderful time to reflect on the past season and plan for the next. Take note of what worked and what didn’t and sketch out any changes or new additions you want to make in your garden. This planning will help you hit the ground running when the snow melts. 

 

Need Help? Consult with our team of Landscape Design Pros!

 

Bird Feeding Stations

Don’t forget about our feathered friends! Setting up bird feeding stations with birdseed and water will not only provide a food source for local wildlife but also add a touch of life and activity to your winter garden. Shop our favorite products here.

 

Enjoy The Beauty of Winter

Winters can be long and challenging, but they also have a unique beauty. Take some time to enjoy your garden’s winter aesthetics – the frost-kissed plants, the glistening snow, and the tranquility of a dormant landscape. Consider adding some outdoor seating or a fire pit to make your garden a cozy, winter retreat. 

In New England, a well-prepared garden can still bring joy and inspiration even during the coldest months. With a little TLC and some planning, your garden can emerge from winter stronger and more beautiful than ever. So, get out there, wrap up warmly, and let’s prepare our gardens for a wonderful New England winter! 

 

 

Green Giants of New England: Caring for Arborvitae and Western Red Cedar

If you’re looking to add some green charm to your New England garden, Arborvitae and Western Red Cedar is a great choice! These evergreen trees and shrubs not only add year-round beauty but also privacy and character to your landscape. In this guide, we’ll explore everything you need to know about caring for these popular plants in New England.

 

Choosing the Right Variety

Before you dive into planting Arborvitae or Western Red Cedar, it’s essential to choose the right variety that suits your landscape and environmental conditions. Consider factors like light requirements, mature size, foliage color, and growth rate.

For Full Sun to Light Shade: American Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis)

  • Emerald Green (‘Smaragd’)
  • Dark American (‘Nigra’)
  • Degroot’s Spire
  • American Pillar
  • Golden Globe

For Full Sun to Shade: Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata)

  • Green Giant
  • Steeplechase
  • Whipcord
  • Forever Goldy

 

 

Western Red Cedars at Mahoney’s in Winchester

Planting Tips

Follow these guidelines for successful Arborvitae and Western Red Cedar transplantation:

Soil Requirements: Ensure your soil drains well. Amend heavy clay soils with organic matter and gypsum. These plants have broad root systems, so dig a hole at least twice as wide as the root ball to encourage root spread.

Care in the First Two Years: Pay special attention during the first two years after planting. Adequate watering, especially during dry spells, is critical.
Fertilizing: Apply all-purpose slow-release fertilizer in early spring before new growth fully emerges. Fall fertilizing at half the spring amount helps establish healthy root systems.

Pruning: Arborvitae typically don’t require much pruning, but if needed, shear the outermost growth in late spring to shape or manage size. Start early to avoid overgrowth.

 

For a handy, printable version of this information, check out our Arborvitae and Western Red Cedar care guide!

 

Printable Care Guide

 

Common Problems and Solutions

Heat Stress: Hot, dry weather can induce heat stress and invite spider mite infestations. Ensure regular, deep watering to boost plant vigor and natural defenses.

Bagworm Moths: While not typically destructive, bagworms can cause unsightly defoliation. Hand removal is often sufficient or use organic pesticides like Neem Oil for larger infestations.

Deer Damage: In areas with high deer populations, consider planting Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata) as it’s less favored by deer compared to Eastern Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis).

 

Seasonal Needle Drop

Don’t panic if your Arborvitae turns brown inside during fall; it’s a natural process called seasonal needle drop. Fresh growth in spring will fill in any gaps left by this process.

 

Fall Watering

Keep your Arborvitae and other evergreens well-hydrated in autumn, as it prepares them for the harsh winter conditions common in New England. Water regularly from September through early December to reduce winter stress. For more information on establishment watering for newly planted trees, see our printable Planting Guide. 

 

Varieties

Here are some popular Arborvitae cultivars carried at Mahoney’s Garden Centers:

American Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis)

  • Emerald Green ‘Smaragd’
  • Dark American ‘Nigra’
  • Degroot’s Spire
  • American Pillar
  • Golden Globe

Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata)

  • Green Giant
  • Steeplechase
  • Whipcord
  • Forever Goldy

 

Please note that actual plant characteristics may vary depending on soil, sunlight, and water conditions.

 

Incorporating Arborvitae and Western Red Cedar into your New England or Boston garden can be a delightful addition, providing year-round beauty, privacy, and resilience. These versatile plants, with proper care and maintenance, will thrive in your outdoor space, enhancing its charm for years to come.

 

Shop a wide selection of Arborvitae and Wester Red Cedar in-store and select varieties online.

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Video Look: Fall Container Inspiration

Get inspired by how Julia pulled together the Fall planters in front of our Winchester store! Using an eclectic mix of bright and textured fall annuals and perennials (and a delightful touch of pumpkins) – we absolutely adore the result!