Garden Dilemmas, Delights & Discoveries, Ask Mary Stone, New Jersey Garden blog
a brown chipmunk with cheeks stuffed with nuts

Chipmunk Remedies & Legends

Hello fellow readers, I hope you enjoy the story of Jolee’s big dig, inspiring a chat about chipmunk remedies and legends about why they have stripes. “It’s the only way I could get her to stop digging.” Three weeks ago, after working in the field, I came home
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a cluster of shiny green and rust colored Japanese Beetles feeing on a plant

Safely Controlling Japanese Beetles

Hello fellow readers,  In last week’s chat, we marveled over the miracle of a robin’s nest though we don’t feel the same about baby insects, other than perhaps caterpillars that turn into butterflies. We sure don’t feel the same way about Japanese beetles wreak
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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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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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