Archive for the ‘Annette Presseau’ Category

Weeds, Weeds – Everywhere! – guest blogger Annette Presseau, Billerica Garden Club

In real estate we talk about first impressions all the time.  Many people when they first arrive at a house will walk around the yard – front and back – how better way to give a great first impression than have a nicely kept garden – this information is important…….Joan Parcewski, Woods Real Estate

Where did all those weeds come from?!


Weeds in the Garden.   Here in New England for June we had plenty of hot, humid weather and for July we had plenty of rain so weeds have sprouted up in the gardens.  Weeds steal moisture, nutrients and light from all your plants.  Here’s a tip: it’s much easier to pull out weeds  like dandelions, when the soil is deeply moistened so if you have had a lot of rain this past July then now’s the time to go out and pull all those weeds.  The roots will slide right out of the soil with a tug and most weeds are annuals which mean that they will pull up easily. When I look at my garden I see plenty of weeds to pull up but it’s not so much of a chore when they pull up easily.  While you’re weeding, observe what’s done well (or not); note what spots need reworking. Identify where weeds sow in madly—like the driveway, gravel surfaces, or cracks between pavers—places that probably require hours of finger-numbing work or are being left unweeded. If so decide what needs to be done to keep weeds from coming back.

GARDENS NEED AN INCH OF WATER weekly from you or the heavens. Check your rain gauge and soak beds deeply in the root zone; don’t spritz with a sprayer like you’re washing the car.  Containers, especially smallish ones in sun, need daily attention, but don’t waste precious resources on the lawn, which will bounce back when cooler, moister days return.

Garden Tours.  There are a lot of garden tours around in the month of August so start planning which garden you want to visit.  There are some great ideas out there that you can plan to work on your own garden for next year and if you are lucky the garden tour person might just give you a cutting for your own garden!

Purchasing Plants.  Believe it or not now is a great time to purchase the Perennials that you would love to add to your garden because they will start to go on sale soon so check out your local nurseries for some great deals!  The next time you are at your local nursery check out two new varieties from Proven Winners below.

Proven Winners has introduced two new varieties of Arrowwood Viburnums that only grow to 5X5, called “All That Glitters” and “All That Glows.” The reason for two different varieties is so they can cross pollinate and produce loads of the gorgeous blue berries that are so popular with birds. This is a great way to attract birds to your yard if you have a small space and this also would make an ecologically sound foundation planting.  And they are deer resistant.  I love anything deer resistant!  (I have deer in my yard.)

Shade Garden.   If you want season long garden color in part shade, look for plants with beautiful foliage that will hold its hues. Heucheras do that plus they do it in part shade and, unlike coleus, they are perennial and have flowers. What a plant!  New this year are Heuchera ‘Delta Dawn,’ which has round leaves with red centers and gorgeous gold and lime highlights. and “Paprika,’ with warm cherry coral foliage, ‘Blondie,’ a blooming machine with 8 inch creamy flower spikes rising from colorful foliage, and Huecherella ‘Sunrise Falls,’ a trailing foam flower especially for containers.

Vegetable Plants.  I decided this year that I would grow a Tomato Plant in a pot on my deck instead of trying to plant a vegetable garden and believe it or not my tomato plant is sprouting tomatoes!  I was shocked to say the least but I will have some tomatoes this year!  Yummm.  As you might have guessed I do very little vegetable gardening I do more flower gardening but thought it would be good to experiment this year.  There is nothing better than picking your own vegetables!

Does everything ripen at the same time?   It’s amazing how quickly the plants can grow and ripen all at the same time then it is what do I do with all these vegetables?  Most people can their vegetables and it’s not too difficult to do actually it is pretty simple it just takes time and patience and the bounty is great in the wintertime when snow is on the ground!  Check out this website for more information:

Hydrangeas, Phloxes and Sedums.  The hydrangeas are all in bloom as well at this time of year and what a color show that they are.  There are blues, whites, reds, purples, pinks and the flowers are so huge and vibrant that one just can’t help but notice them and they are great for flower vases and even to dry them to use as a dried flower in an arrangement.  The other plant that is blooming now is the Phlox plant and the flowers are absolutely gorgeous.  Sedums are also getting ready to bloom and it is such a unique plant to watch to maturity.

Daylillies can be dug and divided as they complete their bloom cycle, right into fall, if needed.

Peonies are best divided and transplanted in late August through September, if they need it. Their “eyes” must not be buried more than an inch or two beneath the soil surface.

Roses.  Roses in the garden are always a joy to see.  In my opinion there is nothing like roses in the garden.  Something like the Double Knock Out Roses plant will bloom all summer long and bring continuous color to the garden even in August.

Digital Pictures.  Now is a great time to go out into your garden and take some pictures so that you can plan what you want to do for next year.  I often look at my garden pictures in the wintertime when it is dull and dreary and it always cheers me up.

Dried and Pressed Flowers.  Now would be a great time to pick some flowers and dry them or press them.  Pick flowers in the morning after dew has evaporated. Harvest them when they are ready to open their buds or just before they peak.  To dry the flowers just wrap a bunch together turn them upside down then hang them in a cool, dry place.  To press flowers just put some in-between some books and let them dry naturally.

Trees & Shrubs.  NO MORE FERTILIZER!  Promoting soft growth isn’t good after July, when it’s time for woody plants to start moving toward the hardening-off phase of their cycle. No more feeding until late winter or earliest spring.

TREES ARE ESPECIALLY vulnerable to drought, particularly the oldest and the youngest (those planted in the last few years). Water deeply.

ALWAYS BE on the lookout for dead, damaged, diseased wood and prune them when they are discovered.

Well, it’s time to get out in my garden and pull all those weeds and do some targeted trimming, mulching and edging—and lots of deadheading, of course.  When it comes to August we can’t start over and redo our plantings but we can do a gradual clean up and take it one step at a time and one section at a time.  Besides the visual relief, editing out the worst bits reduces hiding places for pests and disease, it’s very much worth it.

Happy gardening everyone!

It’s Finally Time to Think Spring – guest blogger Annette Presseau

Spring Fever – Smell that Fresh Air!


Yard clean up time.  This is the time of year that I take a overview of my whole garden and see what needs to be cleaned up.  It’s surprising how much stuff gets into garden beds over the winter months even though they were cleaned up before the winter.  Now is a great time to get out in the yard and start clearing out whatever has accumulated.  Be careful not to pull out your plants that are starting to show up and surprisingly some things won’t be where you left them last fall and you might even see some new things sprouting up!  Once the beds are cleared up that add some all natural fertilizer and a layer of compost but wait to apply mulch until the soil warms up.  Prepare new beds by smothering grass or weeds with layers of recycled corrugated cardboard or thick layers of newspaper then put mulch on top.

My flower garden

Cool season annuals like pansies and violas can be potted up for spring color. I like to put a pot on my front steps which adds quite a bit of color during these spring days and is very pleasant to see as you approach my house.  As for your bulbs when the green shoots start to show up you need to feed them with an organic fertilizer.

Prune roses just as buds begin to push, removing dead, damaged and diseased canes and open up the plants to allow light and air and feed. You can plant new roses, especially those that have come bare-root.

Clematis pruning confuses many gardeners, but it’s not as complicated as you think so don’t worry it’s very hard to kill one by pruning it or neglecting it. That said, they will all benefit from regular care, and pruning should be a part of it.  Need more information than check out this website on how to prune:

I just love Hydrangeas they are just so colorful and look great as cut flowers.  The way to prune your Hydrangea plant is to cut back hard once you see the very first signs of life.

I love the smell of lilacs in the Spring so for Lilacs wait until after they bloom to prune them.  It’s too bad that the smell doesn’t last longer!

Straw Bale GardeningI know that you are saying “what?” Yes you can create a raised garden bed using straw bales.  It is a great option for gardeners who have poor soil or not a lot of room for a garden.  Straw Bales hold water, don’t need to be weeded and as the bales decompose they provide nutrients to the plants inside.  Check out this blog on straw bale gardening:  I would love to try this in my back yard this year maybe the wild turkeys will leave alone my flowers!

Landscape DesignAre you looking at your yard and thinking about changing it all up or just want to be more energy efficient?  Here in New England we always look for ways to be energy efficient because of our climate.  I found this book recently called Energy-Wise Landscape Design; A New Approach for your Home and Garden by Sue Reed.  Sue Reed in her book talks about how the surrounding landscaping can directly influence the energy efficiency around the home.  The book is an easy read and worthwhile to read.

Blub Planting.  Did you know that this is the perfect time of year to plant certain types of bulbs like dahlias, lilies and gladiolas?  Well, these flowering bulbs actually do well during this month, so make sure that you mix a few organic ingredients or some compost into the soil where these are planted (combine bulb fertilizer, as well as aged manure and peat moss). This certainly helps nourish both the soil and flowers.

Apart from flowering bulbs, you can also start planting annual seeds. You can plant asters, cosmos, marigolds, and even zinnias for starters. Now, other than annuals, if you have perennials, have these divided. These can be moved into a different area of your patch, or extras can be given out to your gardener friends..

What to do with houseplants?  Your houseplants can do well with a little bit of spring-cleaning in the month of April. And one of the best gardening tips for this would be to remove irregularities such as yellowing leaves, withered flowers, or even dead branches. Plants may also be able to breathe better when the dust from the leaves are removed using a light spraying. Pinching is also advisable especially for plants, as this helps invigorate new growth and volume.

Growing from seeds.  A few years ago I tried to grow flowers from seed and used a soilless mix instead of regular soil and had great success with it.  There are many kinds of soiless mix’s containing a vast assortment of ingredients but most contain things like Spaghnam moss, Perlite and Vermiculite.  Most soilless mixes retain water well and have great wicking action while still holding a good amount of air, making them a good growing medium.  You can also save money but growing from seeds.  If you have never grown from seeds give it a try it’s really fun to watch them grow and a great project for your kids!

Water Conservation.  Just this month signs have gone up all over town to conserve water so when planning your garden consider water conservation.  Use organic mulch in your garden this year so that you can improve the soil, reduce moisture loss but remember when you’re putting mulch around the plant keep mulch away from the plant trunk.  Make sure you water your garden infrequently and use rain water to quench the thirst of your flowers.  Water your garden during the coolest part of the day to reduce evaporation.  Use a trigger nozzle or a soaker hose instead of a sprinkler.  When picking out plants choose native plants because these survivors have adapted to their environment and need less water and water only when necessary and only when the top 2 to 3 inches of the soil is dry.  Did you know that more plants die from over watering than under watering?

Vertical Kitchen Herb Garden.  I was searching as I usually do for garden information when I came across this beautiful Kitchen Herb Garden at DIY Projects (see website below) and if you are very handy you can make one yourself and you can even have a few plants outside on your deck with a few herbs in them so that you can go out from your kitchen and pick some fresh herbs – what a great idea!  It is a great space saver.

I just love the weather at this time of year and I enjoy getting outside and seeing what is coming up in the garden and I also enjoy sitting on my deck and watching the birds fly by.  The only thing that I don’t enjoy is the wild turkeys that have decided to be in my yard and who enjoy eating some of my flowers!  Oh well, I guess I’ll have to share my bounty with the birds too!

Happy gardening everyone!

Annette Presseau    Billerica Garden Club

January/February Mid-Winter Blues

Welcome back to guest blogger Annette Presseau….Missed your garden blog….Glad you are back……


Are you feeling blue these days with the shorter days and the cold dreary landscape? There are some days that I feel that way until I realize that it is only a few months until Spring and even better the days now are brighter longer and before we know it the Crocuses will be coming up!  So take heart Spring is not far away!

The first day of spring (Spring Equinox) is March 20 this year but it isn’t really Spring until the nice weather gets here around mid-April.  It would be fun to come up with a nickname for this time of year like betwixtism?  What do you think would be a good name for this time of year?  Maybe we can come up with one!

Crocuses.  I just love Crocuses they are the first to pop out of the soil when the weather gets a little warmer and even through a dusting of snow and they add so much color to your garden and if you didn’t plant any this past fall well there will be plenty in the stores for you to purchase and you can leave them in the ground or dig them out and replant them in the fall for next year!

Amaryllis. One of my Christmas gifts was an Amaryllis which is a great flower to have inside during the winter months their blooms are just stunning.  I also gave one as a gift this past Christmas and we have a contest going as to which one will bloom first!  Winter doesn’t have to be dull we just have to make it interesting!

Painting Classes.  How about taking a painting class and painting a garden scene?  If you have kept you calendar from 2012 you could paint from some of those pictures and discover your own talent!  There are all sorts of painting classes that start in January at schools everywhere you could even take a sewing class and learn to sew a flower lap quilt or maybe take crochet lessons and create a spring shawl the possibilities are limitless.  As I’m writing this I’m thinking of a painting I did last year of flowers in bloom and how it is bringing a smile to my face just thinking of it.  There are limitless possibilities out there all you have to do is just think outside of the box!  As adults we sometimes don’t use our imagination enough we are programmed to think inside of the box so let your inner child come out and experiment with something fun to do!

The Beauty of Snow.  I know what you are thinking is she crazy?  Well maybe a little!  Here in New England we have already had snow and a lot of it and if there is one thing I can say is that after I shovel the snow I have noticed how beautiful it is and how serene it is and I just stop for a minute and take in the beauty of my surroundings before I go back inside it takes my breath away to just take a moment and be in awe of the serenity.  There is such a peaceful feeling after a snowstorm and it is really beautiful to look at just not so beautiful to shovel!

Garden Books: I just love looking at garden books this time of year it gives me inspiration and makes me feel great!  Now would be a great time to pull out your garden pictures and put them in a scrapbook or album for future reference.  Check out your library for garden books you will be surprised at what you will find!  How about this book “The Winter Garden: Create a Garden That Shines through the Forgotten Season” by Val Bourne which is an inspirational guide that shows how trees, shrubs, seed heads, berries and evergreens can bring your garden to life in winter and check out this book “Don’t Throw It, Grow It” 68 Windowsill Plants From Kitchen Scraps” by Deborah Peterson & Millicent Selsam.  In this book for instance, did you know that Sweet potatoes have small purple flowers that resemble morning glories, or that Chickpeas make great looking hanging baskets? With this book you will find indispensable little tidbits of information like that and so much more. So the next time you take a look around your living room and think I could probably use a nice potted plant in that corner of the room, think about growing your own little Pomegranate or Avocado tree for a change of pace.

Flower Shows.  Yes, it’s that time of year again to plan to see a Flower Show in March and before you know it the show will be here.  Check out your local Horticultural Society for lectures during the winter months.  Flower shows are a great way to make you feel happy and also give great ideas for planting flowers.

Garden Clubs.  What about joining a Garden Club?  You can get some really great ideas from them and most of them are very reasonable and welcoming.  I absolutely love flower gardening and was reluctant to join a garden club but it has been one of the best things that I have ever done.  I have learned a lot about gardening and have made a lot of friends.  If you don’t have a garden club in your area maybe you can connect with one outside your area or start one.  Think about taking a course in Horticulture who knows you might really like it!

Cut FlowersHow about purchasing some cut flowers at the supermarket?  Every now and then I pick some up especially in the wintertime just to brighten up my home a bit.  One can also pick up some silk flowers and make a nice centerpiece for your table.

Garden Art.  Now would be a good time to plan what garden art you would like in the garden and it would be a great time to either make something or go antique shopping to find that unique piece for your garden.

Yes, Spring will be here before you know it and birds will begin looking for materials to feather their nest and bulbs will start to show their heads.  Yes, appreciate every season, savor winter, and the gifts she brings and remind yourself that without winter, spring would never be here for us to enjoy.

For now I’m going to go back to my flower book, my cup of tea, and my warm afghan and dream about the garden I would like to see this summer and plan to start to grow it this Spring.


Happy Spring dreaming everyone!



Thinking Healthy for October – guest blogger Annette Presseau

Sorry for the late posting – but it was well worth the wait as it always is. 

Thinking Healthy for October

Now that I’ve eaten incorrectly this summer with food like ice cream I’m back to thinking about eating healthy again and the autumn coming in makes me want to set a goal at least until Thanksgiving!  Once I tried to diet at Thanksgiving and that didn’t work because it was torture and I just gave in to my food cravings after that my thoughts went to eat less at mealtime or during the holidays and exercise more like do more walking.  Do you ever notice when you eat the wrong foods you feel good for a moment but afterwards you are not satisfied and actually feel draggy?  Sometimes you are still hungry after eating and that should be a clue that you are not eating correctly.  I also find it difficult to eat correctly when I am having a meal alone I don’t like to eat alone to begin with so eating correctly is difficult I just want to eat something easy and move on.

October is Children’s Health Month.  Keeping children healthy can be a daunting task especially if the child doesn’t like to eat the right foods or exercising regularly.   Helping the child eat the right foods could be as simple as disguising the food with what they like so that it tastes better.  Children are more susceptible to environmental risks than adults because their bodies are still developing, which lessens a child’s ability to detoxify harmful substances compared to an adult.  Below are some great tips:

  • When eating, sit at a table to      avoid walking around your home, lessening the amount of crumbs. Clean up      any spills.
  • Don’t leave dirty dishes in the      sink.
  • If you have a pet, don’t leave      food out overnight.
  • Be conscious of water sources      that become attractive for pests, such as a leaky faucet, spilled liquid,      or sink full of water. A puddle of water could mean a plethora of pests!
  • Clean up and fix up! Clean up      excess clutter to eliminate pest shelter. Repair or replace window screens      with holes and seal up baseboard and other cracks.

The EPA has created a Pesticide Poison Prevention Checklist as a helpful resource; adults are encouraged to review their home room-for-room to search for potential hazards. Additionally, and perhaps most importantly, complete the inspection on your hands and knees or in a similar fashion to a child to understand how they see the room and what would be within their reach.  Want more information then check out this blog:

And if your child is a picky eater then check out this website for great tips and ideas:

Stress and elections.  Are you stressed by the current elections and all those ads on TV?  Most of us are inundated with information, negative ads and phone calls from campaign volunteers.  I know I don’t listen to them anymore and I’m tired of hearing all the rhetoric that goes with it so what do we do?  Well, first of all just stop being stressed and start realizing come November 2nd it will all go away for awhile so why get stressed over it and to prevent becoming overly stressed during the political season countdown, try to take a step back and reclaim what is important to you.  Below are some helpful hints to overcome stress:

  1.  Hold on to your convictions and      passions. Vote out of your core values, and you will always feel confident      in how you cast your vote.
  2. Do not follow someone else’s      convictions or political stances. Each of us has a right to our opinion      and to exercise that opinion at the polls. There will always be many      people with whom we disagree, and that is the beauty of our political      system – it allows for diversity and options.
  3. Become informed about the      candidates and their perspectives, and then know when to turn it off. The      closer we get to Election Day, the more jargon, finger-pointing, and      derogatory statements become the norm in political advertisements. It is      good to know when to turn off the TV, radio or the internet.  Or, if you can’t turn them off, then just      learn to laugh at them.
  4. Find some friends who hold      similar values. It is good to have regular interaction with others who      believe as you do during such times as a national election.

Stress all over.   We live in an age of distractions and interruptions fueled by technology and there’s no place to unwind. There’s no place to hide so what do we do?  We get stressed and our blood pressures go up and out of sight!  The next time you get stressed be aware of your breathing, your body and your environment just for a few minutes and remember that life is not fair and you will get through this and things will get better. You could also picture in your mind something that makes you happy like your family or seeing yourself at the ocean or a lake.  Keep in mind that bad things do happen to good people and that you are not alone in your frustrations and remember that there is always someone else who is worse off than you just look around you.  If that doesn’t work try to take a quick break or walk to think things out or if you can exercise go work out at the gym that will definitely take you mind off of stress!

The next time you get stress try the Mindfulness technique which is generally defined as focused, deliberate attention to a task or thought to quiet the mind and eliminate distractions.  Practicing Mindfulness can help restore peace of mind and more evidence is now building that it can also benefit the body’s immune system.  There are fascinating studies that mindfulness can decrease inflammation and that practicing mindfulness may be one step to shift the odds in your favor, in concert with your healthy lifestyle choices.

That brings me to another question how do you define happiness?  Did you know that that the bulk of what determines happiness is due to your personality?  Yes, you can learn to be happy and you may have thought, as many people do, that happiness comes from being born rich or beautiful or living a stress-free life, the reality is that people who have wealth, beauty or less stress are not happier on average than those of you who don’t enjoy those blessings.  People who are happy seem to intuitively know that their happiness is the sum of their life choices, and their lives are built on the following things:

  1. Devoting time to family and      friends
  2. Appreciating what they have
  3. Maintaining an optimistic      outlook
  4. Feeling a sense of purpose
  5. Living in the moment

Surround yourself with happy people. Being around people who are content buoys your own mood and by being happy yourself, you give something back to those around you.

Friends and family help you celebrate life’s successes and support you in difficult times. Although it’s easy to take friends and family for granted, these relationships are worth their weight in gold.

Build up your emotional account with kind words and actions. Be careful and gracious with critique. Let people know that you appreciate what they do for you or even just that you’re glad they’re part of your life. Also, be mindful of what you say to a person and try not to be negative but positive when you critique someone.

Start thinking about what works for you.  Maybe all you have to do is stop and start thinking about what makes you happy it could be something as simple as having a piece of apple pie or talking to a friend that you haven’t talk to in awhile or even just going outside with the kids and playing with them whatever will put a smile on your face and change your mind.


Well that’s all for now I’m going to call my best friend that I haven’t talked to in awhile and see how she is doing so my wish to you is start living in the moment and stop and have some fun!



Annette Presseau    Reliv distributor



Autumn Senses – guest blogger Annette Presseau (Billerica Garden Club)

Autumn Senses



What a great time of year the air is crisp, the leaves are starting to fall and turn all sorts of colors and here in New England we see a quilt full of colors this time of year and we have a bonus of Indian summer to top it off!  I absolutely love apple pie or anything to do with apples this time of year because the apples are crisp, sweet and juicy my mouth is just watering thinking about them.  This is also a great time to start clearing up your garden weather it is a vegetable garden or a flower garden and get rid of anything that is past it time.  I love working in the yard this time of year too.


Gardening and Exercise.  Do you consider gardening as exercise?  I recently read an article that stated that this time of year there are a lot of injuries related to gardening like back pain and most gardeners spend hours weeding, digging, planting and clipping and they don’t think about stretching before working in the garden I know I never stretch before gardening.  Most gardeners don’t view a day in the yard as a workout but it is very much a workout.  A third to one half of all summer recreational injuries can be related to gardening and gardening can case repetitive-stress injuries from gardening without stopping.  When I garden I enjoy it so much that I forget to periodically take a break or change my position.  We need to approach gardening like a workout and stretch your muscles. Change position and activity, and after 15 minutes stand up stretch and switch what you are doing and exercise different parts of your body.  Also, the right equipment helps like using a bench or using long handles tools but use equipment that is comfortable.  If you start getting pains then limit your activity.  If gardening causes you too much discomfort then try container gardening and window boxes.  You might even try Yoga and read Gail Dubinsky’s “Yoga for Gardeners” book or “Gardener’s Yoga:Bend and Stretch, Dig and Grow” which outlines 21 yoga stretches that can help gardeners both prepare for and recover from a day playing in the dirt!

Leaves in the yard.  At one time I lived where it seemed that all the leaves in my neighborhood landed in my yard no sooner did I rake them all up the yard was full of leaves again now I use a mulcher mower and fortunately I don’t have a lot of leaves in my yard so my work is minimal! There are many gadgets out there that help with leaf cleanup besides a mulcher mower I use a bagger in the back of my lawn mower that picks up the excess and I can use it for compost next year so it works out very well. 


MosquitosMosquitoes need stagnant water to breed, and most mosquitoes stay around where they were born, so the easiest way to do this is after it rains, or after you use sprinklers and hoses, and thoroughly go around your property and empty any container containing water, but you do have to be thorough. Mosquitoes like water that sits for 4 or 5 days, but they can breed in as little as a tablespoon of water, as little as a bottle cap full, so you must be very thorough.  Places often forgotten about are the insides of old tires, all the various nooks and crevices in children’s toys, and gutters. If your gutters are not clean and water sits in them over time, that is prime mosquito territory. So clean your gutters.  Keep your pool and hot tub chlorinated and they will be fine. Your bird bath needs to have water changed regularly; you can also place agitators in your bird bath to keep the mosquitoes at bay. Your ponds or water features need to be well stocked with fish, and the fish will deal with the mosquitoes. If they aren’t, you need to add something that will kill them, such as mosquito dunks which are this bacteria that kills mosquito larvae in water, but doesn’t harm anything else, a good product. If you have a rain barrel make sure it is fitted with a secure mesh opening that prevents any bug entrance, and you can also use the mosquito dunks in it as well.

So remove the water you do not want, and maintain the water you do want, and you should be okay.

Pansies, Mums and Kale.  Now is the perfect time to plant Pansies, Mums and Kale which will bring great color to your yard and you can remove some of your summer flowers that are starting to look pretty bad.  Pansies can be planted in a pumpkin and all you do is scoop out the middle, make some holes in the bottom and take your plant add some soil and put in the pumpkin.  Pansies are the perfect autumn flower and they seem to just smile back at you and they also love this cool weather.  The more faded flowers you pick off the Pansies the more they will bloom.  Mums are really beautiful this time of year and flowering or ornamental Kale really gives a different color to the garden.


Moving plants indoors.  Stop fertilizing your plants and bring summer vacationing houseplants back indoors while the weather is still nice so that you don’t shock your plants. Check carefully for hitchhiking pests too.  Start fall clean-up in the flower beds, cutting back anything that has finished blooming or is diseased and remove any plants that have died.  Photograph your gardens and containers for a record of the year’s triumphs and frustrations and you can take some cuttings of your plants indoors so that you can have them next year or remove the seeds from your plants and grow them from seed next year.  Another great thing to do is to make some pressed flowers to save and maybe start a scrapbook album!  Make sure you divide and move perennials and dig and store tender bulbs like: dahlias, caladiums, cannas and tuberous begonias. Now is a good time to plant fall bulbs.  Irises and other early-blooming perennials still can be divided this month but make sure you give them plenty of water after replanting.  Take cuttings from geraniums, 2 to 4 inches, for indoor winter flowering.


Check out these pictures:


Christmas Cactus Care.  It’s scary to think that Christmas will be here in a few months and that we need to get our Christmas Cactus ready but this is a good time to do it.  If you want them to bloom on schedule, begin conditioning your Christmas Cactus to get ready for the upcoming holiday season. The key to getting Christmas cactus to flower during the holiday season is proper light exposure, correct temperatures and limited watering.


Because this plant is thermo-photoperiodic, it will set buds when day length is about equal to night length and when the temperature drops to 50 to 60 degrees F for several weeks.  Keep in a dark bathroom for the night. During the fall months, the Christmas Cactus should be placed in a spot where it receives indoor indirect, bright light during the daylight hours but total darkness at night (absolutely no artificial light). The Christmas Cactus requires long, uninterrupted dark periods, about 12 or more hours each night. Begin the dark treatments in about mid-October to have plants in full bloom by the holidays. Place the plants in a dark area from about 12 or more hours each night for 6-8 weeks or until you see buds forming. A closet or unused bathroom are ideal places.


From September and October, the Christmas Cactus should be kept in a cool room where temperatures will remain around 50 degrees, give or take a few degrees. Don’t expose the plant to freezing temperatures. Plants should be blooming for the holidays if cool treatments are started by early November.

Be especially careful with watering at this time. Reduce the watering slightly. Do not soak the soil after a dry period; only moisten the top few inches, since buds, flowers and even leaves can fall off if the roots are suddenly saturated.

Prune the Christmas cactus about a month after blooming. This will encourage the plant to branch out, especially after a period of “rest” has been granted. It will not look very pretty after the blossoms have faded. Some people wait until March or so, when new growth begins, to prune the cactus.

Perennials.  Mark your perennials with permanent tags or stakes, or create a map showing their locations so you’ll know where and what they are when they die back at the end of the season.
This will help you so that you don’t accidentally dig up something you intended to keep when you work in the garden this fall and next spring.


Birdfeeders and other things.  Now is a great time to clean off birdfeeders; clean out and put away birdbaths for the winter.  Plant garlic for harvest next summer and sow wildflower seed for bloom next spring.  At this time you can harvest herbs, grasses and flowers for drying.


Rusted Garden Tools.  I have to admit that my tools are rusty so now is a good time for me to clean them up and what needs to be done is to put on gloves then Scrub rusty tools with a steel-wool pad that has been dipped in white vinegar. If the rust is heavier, you can soak the tools in a bath of distilled white vinegar. The acid in the vinegar helps to lift the rust and the steel wool works into the finer cracks and crevices. Rusty garden tools can be cleaned easily this way without harsh, expensive chemicals.

Fill a 5-gallon bucket 1/2 way full with sand and mix in some used motor oil. If you do not have used motor oil you can use some inexpensive baby oil for this job. Mix the oil and sand well and store your tools with their metal heads sunk in this bucket. The sand will act as an abrasive deterring future rust and the oil keeps your newly cleaned tools conditioned. This is also an effective way to store garden tools through the winter time. Mechanic’s tools can be cleaned and conditioned the same way.

Treat tools with significant rust damage — or damage you don’t feel like scrubbing free of rust — with a rust-inhibiting spray paint designed to protect metal. A rust-converting primer may also be necessary.



Fall Festivals.  Right now is a great time to go to country fairs and festivals so check out your local listings and see what is in your area and Farmers Markets are still going strong so you can still get many vegetables and flowers and some state fairs are happening now.


I’ll leave you with a thought about a beautiful autumn sunset where the sky turns a bright orange and the clouds are flowing over the beautiful blue sky while the moon is showing it’s brightness in the distance.  The next time you are gardening stop and feel the gentle breeze on your face and watch the hummingbird fly past and stop and wonder at all the beautiful things that are in your garden and just sit there and smile at the peace and beauty of what surrounds you.


Annette Presseau      Billerica Garden Club

Embracing September – guest blogger Annette Presseau

The summer is almost over and the fall is starting to come in but wait there is also what is called an Indian summer to come yet and the weather is just beautiful so get out and enjoy because before we know it the snow will be here!  What is Indian summer exactly?  According to Wikipedia “an Indian summer is a heat wave that occurs in the autumn. It refers to a period of considerably above normal temperatures, accompanied by dry and hazy conditions, usually after there has been a killing frost. Depending on latitude and elevation, it can occur in the Northern Hemisphere between late September and mid November.”  This time of year is great for taking walks and working in the yard and also getting apples at your favorite orchard a fresh picked apple can’t be beat!

School is back!  Eating a good breakfast can start your day off with energy and keep you going and children need something in their stomachs too but children can be very fussy I know I was a fussy eater when I was a kid and I didn’t like vegetables either but as I got older I learned to eat my vegetables and I really enjoy my vegetables now.  Think about a nutritional shake for your kids in the morning to get them started or maybe a smoothie for breakfast.  I am often stumped by what to have for breakfast and get quite inventive at times so experiment and see what works.  Lunches were always a challenge for me too because I’m not a sandwich eater so my lunches were different than the other kids even today I like to experiment with my lunches.

You are what you eat.  Fast foods have very little nutrition in them if any at all and they are not healthy for you but when I’m on the go I’m as guilty as anyone in buying fast foods so consider getting something that is nutritious at the fast food place like a salad you’re still going to have a lot of calories but at least you are eating healthier.  My rule of thumb is that if it tastes good than it probably is not good for you but we all need to splurge every now and then to keep our sanity.  Usually, when I splurge I tend to cut back for a few days during the week that way I don’t feel so guilty about when I eat the wrong foods.  Am I what I eat – probably but that’s ok because I’m working on changing my eating habits a little at a time.

Metabolic SyndromeAccording to the American Heart Association, 47 million Americans now have Metabolic Syndrome.  What is Metabolic Syndrome?  It is excess weight, particularly around the waistline. Metabolic syndrome typically includes three or more of these symptoms:

  1.  waistline of 40+ inches for men or 35+      inches for women
  2.  high blood pressure, or on blood pressure      medication
  3.  high triglycerides
  4.  high blood sugar or type 2 diabetes
  5.  low levels of HDL (good) cholesterol

The solution is to balance blood sugar, lose weight and improve cholesterol.  In the past few years I have cut back on sugar quite a bit and I do feel a lot better.  I truly believe that sugar is addictive.  Check out the labels on food that you purchase you will be surprised at how much sugar is in what we eat.

High Blood Pressure.  Millions of Americans have high blood pressure despite treatment for it.  I recently developed high blood pressure and am taking medication for it and the medication has brought down my blood pressure to a normal reading.  In my opinion stress brings on high blood pressure it did for me.  It’s good to measure you blood pressure at home or at a pharmacy on a regular basis.  Blood pressure can be lowered by lowering your salt intake, losing weight and exercising daily.  Whatever you eat see if you can check the salt content you might be very surprised at how much salt is in the food that we eat.

September is National Preparedness month so would you be ready if there is an emergency?  I know that I am not ready but would like to be so here is what we all need to do.  Assemble an emergency supply kit with water (one gallon), non-perishable food, flashlight, battery powered radio or hand crank one, extra batteries, first aid kit, medications, multipurpose tool, sanitation and personal hygiene items, copies of personal documents, cell phone with chargers, family and emergency contact information, extra cash, emergency blanket and a map of the area.  You can find out more information at there is a whole list of things that you can add to the emergency supply kit depending on what your family needs are.

September is also World Alzheimer’s Month.  Wear purple on September 21st to show your support for Alzheimer’s or you can wear purple anytime after September 21st.  Alzheimer’s is such a terrible disease and affects one in eight older Americans if you would like know more on this disease check out this website:

September is also National Sewing Month so pull out those old sewing machines and begin a project or finish an old one or just take a beginner class who knows you might really enjoy learning how to sew!  National Sewing Month was started in 1982 by President Ronald Regan “In recognition of the importance of home sewing to our nation.”  You can start with a small project and see where it takes you.  I find it very satisfying to make something myself and it also makes me appreciate how much work can go into making something.  Also, it is great when people complement the work that you have done.

Fall foliage drives in New EnglandSeptember is a great time to see the fall foliage in New England and here are some great places to take a ride to:  Acadia Byway in Maine, Three Rivers Scenic Drive in New Hampshire, Mohawk Trail Drive in Massachusetts, Rhode Island 77 in Rhode Island and Route 100 in Vermont just to name a few.  I’m sure every one of you has a favorite place to go and see the foliage in New England!

I cannot leave out Apple picking because to me the apples are best in September and I look forward to picking apples every year.  There are many fall festivals this time of year too.  My favorite apple is a Courtland apple what is your favorite apple?  Did you know that the flavor of the apples comes from the soil and that the seed is the same no matter where it is planted?  I go to Parlee Farms in Tyngsboro Mass. to get my apples and they have many activities for the kids too.  Also, do you remember the saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away?”  So eat more apples!

Pumpkins are also available this time of year and are quite fun to cut out or draw faces on them.  Check out this website for a number of ideas to cut up your pumpkins:

Red wine for better health.  Did you know that moderate alcohol consumption has been proven to reduce coronary heart disease risk?  Yes, it is true but in moderate amounts.  Red wine is the most beneficial to your heart health.  The best wines to reduce coronary heart disease are Cabernet Sauvignon, followed closely by Petit Syrah and Pinot Noir. Both Merlots and red zinfandels have fewer flavonoids than their more potent predecessors. White wine had significantly smaller amounts of flavonoids than the red wine varieties. The bottom line is the sweeter the wine, the fewer the flavonoids. Dryer red wines are your best bet for a flavonoid boost.  So have a four ounce glass of red wine every now and then and drink to your health!

Eye Health at any age.  Have you had your eyes checked lately?  Are you having trouble reading or seeing things then it is time to have your eyes checked.  For me it is better to see an ophthalmologist because I have a history of Macular Degeneration in my family but there are many optometrists out there too.  My mother struggled with Macular Degeneration and was very blind and I can still her say “I wish I could see”.  Women are more affected by eye disease and other eye conditions than men and two thirds of blind people are women but this doesn’t mean that men don’t get eye problems they do. Cataracts, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, and even dry eyes are all more common in women than in men.  Hormonal fluctuations and fertility treatments can cause dry and puffy eyes, leading to increased eye sensitivity. Breast cancer treatments can cause bleeding in the eyes, dry eyes, and cataracts. Diabetes and autoimmune diseases–both of which women are more susceptible to than men–can cause light sensitivity, vision loss, and dry eyes.

Your eyesight is such a precious thing so don’t forget to protect your eyes and get a checkup.  A friend of mine just got a checkup and a Macular hole was found and now he needs surgery which will prevent him from going blind so remember to get your eyes checked.

Colds and Remedies.  Colds this time of year sometimes happen because we get cool weather and then warm weather and I just got a head cold and was able to fight it off with Reliv Innergerize (a sports drink that opens up your cells) chicken noodle soup (my favorite when I have a cold) and orange juice and of course as much rest as I possibly can get and my cold only lasted a few days and I’m feeling great again.  Cold and flu season will be starting soon so think about what you can do to help prevent getting a cold or the flu maybe get more rest or bring a extra sweater or jacket or maybe just carry some hand sanitizer with you.  You could also eat more apples!

Pretty soon it will be time to rake leaves and the air will be colder and the wind will blow more often and snow will come but until then take time to go and play in the leaves with the kids, be with family and friends and relish the moment because this autumn time won’t last forever.  I’m off to enjoy this beautiful weather and go pick some apples!

Annette Presseau          Reliv Distributor 




August in the Garden – guest blogger Annette Presseau (Billerica Garden Club)

As summer winds down, it’s time to prepare your garden for the soon to be changing season. 

Now is a great time to spot clean your garden and what I mean by that is to do some targeted trimming, mulching and edging which will make for great enjoyment into late summer and fall by reducing hiding places for pets and disease and in reality it’s just a head start for fall cleanup, one spot at a time.  Now is also a good time to take photos of your garden so that next year you can see what worked and what didn’t work.  Forget about watering your lawn which will bounce back when cooler, moister days return just concentrate on clearing up the dry spots and your lawn will come back next year fine.


DAYLILIES can be dug and divided as they complete their bloom cycle, right into fall, if needed.

PEONIES are best divided and transplanted in late August through September, if they need it. Remember with these fussy guys that “eyes” must not be buried more than an inch or two beneath the soil surface.

MANY POPULAR ANNUALS can be overwintered as young plants if you take and root cuttings now rather than try to nurse along leggy older specimens. Geraniums, coleus, wax begonias, even impatiens (to name just a few common ones), if grown in good light indoors and kept pinched and bushy, will yield another generation of cuttings for next spring’s transplants.

MANY PERENNIALS and biennials can still be started from seed if you hurry, then set out in the fall into nursery beds.

DEADHEAD FADED PERENNIALS and summer bulbs unless they have showy seedheads, or you want to collect seed later (non-hybrids only).

ORDER FLOWER BULBS for fall planting to get varieties you want, often at an early shopping discount.

PREPARE NEW beds for fall planting by smothering grass or weeds with layers of recycled corrugated cardboard or thick layers of newspaper, then put mulch on top.

GARDENS NEED an inch of water a week from you or the heavens so unless you put a soaker hose or some other way to water at the roots remember to soak deeply in the root zone, don’t spritz things with a sprayer now and again like you’re washing the car. That’s a garden no-no. Check your rain gauge to make sure they get the amount of water that is needed.   Pots need extra attention, especially smallish ones in sun, and they also need regular feeding.

House Plants

If houseplants need repotting, do it now, while they’re still outside (less messy than in the house). Don’t step up more than an inch in diameter (on small pots) or a couple (on large ones). Most plants don’t like to swim in their containers.

Happy Gardening!

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