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


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Mary E. Stone

It’s a joy to help others beautify and enjoy their surroundings. I believe in creating gardens and landscapes that embrace the glories of nature and specialize in designing plant and hardscape combinations that are out of the ordinary while respecting our dear earth. Beyond the garden, I relish helping our youth (the seeds of our future) and our elderly (honoring lives that have nourished us).

I began digging in the dirt thanks to Mom who introduced me to gardening via 4-H.  Once old enough to tag along, I became her ‘assistant’ and produce picker at a garden center where she worked.  While I still chuckle that folks often pay more for the thrill of a back-bending insect biting pick-your-own outing, the marvel of food and flowers growing in the dirt became rooted in me.  I often reminisce about Grandpa, a dairy farmer by trade, who lived with us his last few years and hand dug and sat vigil to his vegetable garden graced with sunflowers watching overhead (my addition).

“It’s more than about gardens… it’s about sharing Dilemmas, Delights & Discoveries in the garden of life…”

After a corporate marketing career in broadcast and print media, I am thankful for the opportunity to return to my roots over twenty years ago. As a Landscape Designer, Garden Coach, Writer & Speaker, I find the joy of helping others beautify their surroundings 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. This website is a step forward in growing our evolving community of readers to share encouragement in the garden and personal delights and discoveries; seeking nature’s inspirations, stimulating growth, weeding undesirables, embracing the unexpected.  Shall we get started?  We have lots to talk about! Thank you again for dropping by, Mary

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About my unexpected furry messenger:
Miss Ellie's arrival

Miss Ellie’s arrival on June 23, 2009

While walking among the trees has been a lifelong passion, it wasn’t until Miss Ellie’s unplanned arrival that walking became a daily routine. On trails or along the road, walking was the only way to calm my then foster dog. She was filled with heightened anxiety due to her first year of life – living alone in a cage, unprotected from the hot Georgia sun, rarely fed or watered. Turns out we share a history of living in isolation and neglect. She from owners that likely loved puppies but not dogs. I from a then-husband that was married to an assortment of addictions rather than to me.

The first time I brought my southern belle for a walk in the woods it was the day after I became her foster mom. She escaped from the back hatch before I could lasso her up and ran like the wind, her mangy featherless tail flying. This isn’t good, I said to myself. Being a foster failure by losing her came to mind. I didn’t have a name for her yet but came up with “Missy! Missy! Come!”  With her contagious grin, this thin coated, alien-looking blonde captured my heart as she came running back to me in the sheer joy of being free. Her name became Miss Ellie and we’ve walked four to five miles a day since June of 2009. That’s over 11,000 miles so far. Moving forward one step at a time.

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Miss Ellie & Mary Stone, August 2012