Garden Dilemmas, Delights & Discoveries, Ask Mary Stone, New Jersey Garden blog

Taming the Jungle

Hello fellow readers,

Diane of Knowlton asked for tips to “tame her jungle” which sounds like weeds and overgrown plants may be her dilemma. Weeds are misplaced plants – not a Mary original definition but frequently used to justify my naturalized landscape which sounds much better than weedy landscape, don’t you think? Keep the volunteers you like and remove the ones you don’t is my motto; although there is the issue of invasive species which is an exception to the rule.

Regarding the overgrown part of Diane’s jungle. We live in a beautiful part of the country so rather than meddling with Mother Nature I suggest creating a transition from your lawn to native areas such as bogs, fields or woodlands. Planting transition shrubs between your lawn and native areas provides a pleasing buffer and can hide “uglies” such as downed trees and unsightly neighbor yard art (I’m being kind) or brush piles.

One of my favorite transition shrubs is Aesculus parviflora /Bottlebrush Buckeye reaching 8-12’ in height and spread is excellent for massing providing a wave of texture across the landscape. Full shade to full sun, although best with some shade hence great as a woodland buffer, this flexible fellow tolerates flooding and moderate drought and is deer resistant to boot. It flowers in June through July with showy white flowers that look like bottle brushes, hence its common name. Their flowers give way to glossy inedible, pear-shaped nuts (buckeyes) encased in husks.

Bottlebrush Buckeye / Aesculus parviflora

Bottlebrush Buckeye / Aesculus parviflora

 Sambucus nigra ‘Eva’, or other purple leaf varieties of Elderberry, is another favorite with musky smelling flowers followed by blackish red fall berries that are attractive to birds. Their fruits can be used to make jams, jellies and pie fillings, but are not considered to be as flavorful as the American elderberry /Sambucus canadensis.

Then there’s Clethra alnifolia, commonly called Summersweet, which is a native deciduous shrub that flowers for about 4-6 weeks in July and August and are very attractive to butterflies and bees. Why not smell heavenly while taming your jungle?

Garden Dilemmas? askmarystone@gmail.com

Aesculous parviflora, Bottlebrush Buckeye, Garden Dilemmas, Mary Stone

Roger of Blairstown NJ with his newly installed Aesculous parviflora

Mary Stone, owner of Stone Associates Landscape Design & Consulting. As a Landscape Designer, I am grateful for the joy of helping others beautify their surroundings which often leads to sharing encouragement and life experiences. These relationships inspired my weekly column published in THE PRESS, 'Garden Dilemmas? Ask Mary', began in 2012. I dream of growing the evolving community of readers into an interactive forum to share encouragement and support in Garden and Personal Recoveries - seeking nature’s inspirations, stimulating growth, weeding undesirables, embracing the unexpected. Thank you for visiting! Mary

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