Garden Dilemmas, Delights & Discoveries, Ask Mary Stone, New Jersey Garden blog
the canopy of a Tree of Heaven canopy against a blue sky

Why is it called Tree of Heaven?

Hello fellow readers, Jolee and I pass a mature stand of Tree of Heaven on our morning walks. There’s been a sickening smell of rotting apples for weeks now, and the trunks are loaded with Spotted Lanternflies. And I ask myself, why is it called Tree of Heaven? Spotted Lanterfly
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A Brood x cicadas with black bodies and reddish wings and eyes on a shrub

Brood-X Cicada 2021 Recap

Hello fellow readers, You may know I record a podcast version of our column from the screened porch. In doing so this week, the loud shrill of annual cicadas was overwhelming. Not to be confused with the hubbub warning about Brood-X periodic cicadas all over the news earlier in the se
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an elongated center of a mauve coneflower with fasciation

Fascinating Anomaly of Fasciation

Hello fellow readers. I enjoy being stumped by mysterious and sometimes magnificent garden dilemmas. Dorrie of Lebanon, CT, found my previous column about Deformed Flowers on Black-eyed Susan. The culprit— insects and a pathogen named Aster Yellows Disease (link below). But I had neve
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small baby blue eyes blue spruce with needle cast symptoms of browned and drooping treetop and side needles.

Needle Cast on Ellie’s Memorial Tree

Hello fellow readers, Ellie’s memorial tree is showing signs of severe decline. About a month ago, I noticed the tippy-top of her Baby Blue Eyes Spruce badly wilted. A colleague confirmed its suffering from the dreaded Needle Cast. Still, I choose to believe there is Hope. We’ve chatt
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light beige frothy slime mold on a variegated ornamental grass

Slime Mold & Artillery Fungus

Hello fellow readers, Several fungal dilemmas are showing up as of late. Bob of Piscataway, NJ, sent a photo of icky creamy, frothy stuff on Hakonechloa. Also known as Japanese Forest Grass, it’s one of my favorite shade-loving ornamental grasses. It’s the first I’ve
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a cluster of Japanese Beetles looking lifeless

Japanese Beetle Time

Hello fellow readers, Caught in the act! I found the culprit of Carolyn’s holy rose dilemma we spoke about last week. As I arrived with Pyrethrin in hand, there they were, the shiny green and rust-colored beetles chomping away. Yes, indeed, it’s Japanese beetle time. Their arrival bri
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a brick walk leading to a front entrance with pink knock out roses

Rose Remedies

Hello fellow readers, Two unsightly rose dilemmas came to my attention, requiring a revisit of suggested rose remedies. We’ve chatted before about the plethora of rose challenges such as spider mites and aphids that often run amok. Never mind the fungus amongst them like black spot an
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an open bag of Twin Oaks Pine Bark Nuggets

Carpenter Ants and Termites in Mulch

Hello fellow readers, Today’s topic hits close to home. Sandy from Sparta, NJ, wrote, “Brian bought pine bark nuggets to mulch the garden, and there’s tons of huge black ants and some termites in it. What do I do?” The close-to-home part is I’m tackling c
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closeup of a beige-colored cave cricket on a white background

Do Cave Crickets Benefit the Garden?

Hello fellow readers,  Jolee came upon an American toad in the lawn to the left of a drainage swale.  I’m glad she didn’t pounce for the kill, the fate of cave crickets, though we are grateful for her finesse. Our rescue pup is indeed earning her keep. The darn things ador
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Native Tree and Shrub Replacements

Hello fellow readers, The influx of insects killing stands of trees is heartbreaking. But beyond the losses of our much-loved trees is an opportunity to plant beautiful native trees and shrub replacements. We spoke before about how the emerald ash borer is devastating trees. They say
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