Garden Dilemmas, Delights & Discoveries, Ask Mary Stone, New Jersey Garden blog
a closeup of a flopping limelight hydrangea

Flopping Limelight Hydrangea

Hello Fellow Readers, Lorraine from Sparta, NJ, writes, “Hi, Mary!  Hope you’re well. I have a Limelight Hydrangea garden dilemma. I prune it every spring to about three feet. It grows to a total of about six or seven feet tall and wide by August with ginormous blooms. But with the he
A rejuvinated pruned maroon leaf smokebush in bloom that looks like smok

Rejuvenation Pruning & Smokebush

Hello Fellow Readers, It felt therapeutic to tend to rejuvenation pruning of the Smokebush and other shrubs over the weekend. Rejuvenation pruning is drastically cutting back overgrown plants to restore them to their intended shape. Or, to manage its size, which was the case of my Smo
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Doublefile Viburnum Angels

Hello Fellow Readers, I am thrilled to report the robin mentioned last week did indeed nest in the Doublefile Viburnum outside our kitchen window. Perhaps the same robin that nested there last year. They say they can return to a spot if they’ve had successful broods prior. It tu
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Spring Cleanup & Pruning Lavender

Hello Fellow Readers, At last the big cleanup. Curt and I spent eight hours cleaning up branches, sticks, and wheelbarrows of hickory nut hulls. The critters ate the nuts and left the husks. Talk about poor table manners…. Then there were the bucket loads of cones, a sign our hemlocks
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Ode to Fall

Hello fellow readers, While the official start of fall has begun, the return of heat and humidity after the late summer cool spell has Mother Nature confused. I heard spring peepers the other evening while sitting on the screened porch. And, there’s early leaf drop on certain trees be
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No need for bad haircuts

Hello Fellow Readers, Forsythia is one of the first shrubs to bloom announcing spring has arrived! I love the sunny yellow welcome to the bland dormant landscape. It’s true after the early yellow wakeup call they can turn into unwieldy shrubs inspiring folks to prune them into unnatur

Bad Bamboo?

Hello fellow readers, Recently Katie of Piscataway NJ shared her ‘horrible backyard dilemma.’ Her home was once her Dad’s, which piqued my curiosity. How could her Dad’s backyard be so horrible? It turns out the neighbor’s bamboo has taken over. At first glance, bamboo seems appealing
withered and curled leaves from aphid damage on leatherleaf viburnum

Reasons to Prune

Hello fellow readers, The reasons to prune are similar to the reasons for caring for ourselves and our families. Improving appearance and health, training the young, controlling size, preventing injury or damage, rejuvenating the old, and influencing bounty. But choosing the right pla

Long & Leggy Rhododendron

Hello fellow readers, They’re long and leggy which is evident from the photo of the garden dilemma shared by Melanie of Newton. She and her husband acquired a lake-side fixer-upper built over a half-century ago. The rhododendrons have grown taller than the house and branches are resti
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Mixed-up Cherry

Hello fellow readers, Marcia from Columbia writes ‘our pink ornamental cherry tree is trans gendering, or crossdressing, or something. There are two large boughs with pure white blossoms. What the heck?’ In the picture she sent the tree looks like it has a spikey haircut with lots of