Garden Dilemmas, Delights & Discoveries, Ask Mary Stone, New Jersey Garden blog
milkweed seed pods with clusters of orange-red bugs with black markings

Milkweed Bugs at Merrill Creek

Hello Fellow Readers, Over the weekend, I met my writing buddy Drew Cusano at Merrill Creek Reservoir and Environmental Preserve in Harmony Township, NJ— a place I never explored. I thought this week’s chat would be about the history and ecological initiatives of the reservoir (
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a brown chipmunk with cheeks stuffed with nuts

Beyond Nutty Mast Year

Hello fellow readers, These are nutty times—far nuttier than usual. Have you noticed the plentiful tree nuts as compared to last year? In my neck of the woods, the shagbark hickory nuts are overabundant and golf ball size. So much, so that walking amongst them is risky for ankle stabi
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a blue jay perched on a bird feeder

Blue Jays Bad Reputation

Hello fellow readers, I have a confession to make about a grudge held for blue jays being aggressive, which originates from being beaked by one while jogging in Cliffside Park, NJ, where I once lived. They certainly are beautiful birds with sky blue coloring and black and white accent
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a closeup of a taupe colored American toad below a maroon leafed plant

Attracting Toads to your Garden

Hello fellow readers, Indeed, toads and frogs are beneficial garden guests, each eating a hundred or more insects or slugs every day. And while not all of us have ponds nearby, attracting toads to your garden is doable and fun. But first, may I share a story… While recording a G
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a closeup of a white mayapple flower with a pale yellow center

Mayapple of my Eye

Hello fellow readers, While walking along the Paulinskill Rail Trail the last few weeks, a low-lying plant that lines the sooty path in the shadier spots has caught my eye. Mayapple is a native perennial, a desirable one, unbeknownst to me while planting my first comprehensive perenni
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A man in blue jeans and blue shirt gardening with a black and white dog.

Gardening with Dogs

Hello fellow readers,  We planted Ellie’s memorial tree over the weekend, a ‘Baby Blue Eyes’ Blue Spruce that served as our Christmas tree. It was a heartfelt moment as Jolee stood nearby watching. And, she helped dig a few holes in the yard too. Yup, we have a digge
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a mysterious unaddressed Christmas Card opened up on a wooden table with a red cardinal decoration

Mysterious Christmas Card

Hello fellow readers, May I share a story of the mysterious Christmas card that landed in our mailbox with messages addressed to all. The unaddressed envelope has a lovely illustration of a male and female cardinal. Red cardinals, the males, are often featured in Christmas decorations
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a small white sign describing ponds with a pond in the background

Pond versus Lake

Hello fellow readers, It never occurred to me the there is an inconsistency of what defines a pond versus a lake; if I may share a walk in the woods, that leads to the curious question. After a weekly volunteer sing at the Karen Ann Quinlan Home for Hospice on Friday, I enjoyed a walk
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a bumble bee on a hot pink monarda flower

Neonicotinoid Insecticides Alert

Hello fellow readers, I recently received an email from the NJ Landscape Contractors Association (NJLCA), alerting members about legislation pending to limit the use of neonicotinoid insecticides to agricultural properties only. Neonicotinoids (neo·​nic·​o·​ti·​noid) are a synthetic d
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a dog and cat sculpture in a memorial garden at an animal shelter

Father John’s Animal House Garden

Hello fellow readers, Last week, I enjoyed a visit with facilitators of a recently installed memorial garden at Father John’s Animal House, a no-kill rescue facility in Lafayette, NJ. My colleague and dear friend Marty of Three Seasons Garden Design volunteered to create the gar
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