With a second location in Sandwich and another in Marstons Mills, H.F. Johnson’s nurseries are full of well-cared-for stock, with 70 percent grown at their farms and 30 percent culled from other growers.
Johnson notes that the balmy autumn temperatures on Cape Cod in September and October are perfect for many trees and shrubs. “The soil in the fall is much warmer here than it is in the spring,” says Johnson. “The plants experience much less transpiration.” An experienced nurseryman who works with his father and two brothers for H.F. Johnson, Barry explains that fall transplants should be watered until air temperatures reach 40 degrees consistently.
Keith Stevens, a long time nurseryman at Country Garden in Hyannis, says fall planting is a great option for homeowners looking to add trees, shrubs, or perennials to their Cape or Islands environment. “The plants have a better chance of surviving through the heat of a Cape Cod summer when their roots have a chance to set in the fall,” says Stevens in a tour around Country Garden’s sprawling seven-acre nursery on West Main Street. “Most evergreens should go into the ground before October, but there are lots of great trees to choose from at that time, including Norway Spruce, Australian Pine, the different Arborvitaes and all kinds of Junipers.” Stevens says that certain evergreens, like the popular Leyland Cypress tree, do not flourish when planted in the autumn.
Agreeing with Barry Johnson that good compost and the proper size hole are crucial for fall planting, Stevens says the newly planted trees or shrubs should be watered every three to four days with a good deep watering applied into a well of soil around the base of each plant. “If plants are exposed to salt wind or ocean air, they should be wrapped for the first winter,” says Stevens, whose experience includes several years working on an Osterville ocean-side estate.