Garden Dilemmas, Delights & Discoveries, Ask Mary Stone, New Jersey Garden blog
a favorite mulch alternative with large heart-shaped silver leaves outlined by a web of green veins and light purple flowers.

Plant Mulch Alternatives

Hello fellow readers, Last week’s chat about remedies of carpenter ants and termites in mulch brings to mind the best solution of all. Plant mulch alternatives instead—groundcovers, which go beyond everyday ones like pachysandra and vinca minor. First, consider cultural requirem
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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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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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A selfie of black sneakers on a lawn filled with sunny yellow dandelions

Benefits of Plantain & Dandelion “Weeds”

Hello fellow readers, Have you ever considered plantain, the flat-leaved weed with spikey seed heads that invade your lawn, a beneficial plant? It was news to me to learn that plantain is a valuable herb, though I’ve known for years that dandelions should be considered welcome l
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yellow forsythia in bloom with the ealry morning making it glow

Forsythia not blooming?

Hello fellow readers, Denise from Mt. Tabor, PA, asked why her forsythia aren’t blooming. You’re not the only one, Denise; mine hasn’t either for over two years. Non-blooming forsythia most often has to do with improper pruning. Though deer browse, not enough sunlight, improper
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a single reddish orange nasturtium flower with foliage peeking throuhg wall boards.

Plant Companions for Vegetables

Hello fellow readers, Many of you reached back with kind wishes and shared stories about your furry companions. Your kindness means so much. Jolee recovered quickly from her foot full of porcupine quills. And as it turns out, Maria, the selfless hiker that stepped in to help, found me
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closeup of a black and white dog with a nametag Jolee

Three Sisters Gardening & Jolee’s Emergency

Hello fellow readers, I intended this week’s topic to be about Three Sisters Gardening—companion plants in your vegetable gardens stemming from Native Americans. They combined corn, pole beans, and squash, creating an ecosystem for sustainable gardening. Rather than planting in
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a sundial in a garden of gravel and river stone and sedum

Sedum Garden

Hello fellow readers, Earlier this summer, I had the privilege of helping the Rimi’s of Washington, NJ, choose a few plants for their already beautiful gardens. What a unique property! There’s a small building, I think a springhouse in its day, charmingly serving as a back
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two woman and a man planting a redbud tree in front of a highschool

A Forest Pansy Redbud of Hope

Hello Fellow Readers, The printed version of our column in The Press is back on the stands. It’s nice to see some things returning to how they used to be. Others will never be the same, which is always the case. A sure thing in life is it’s ever-changing. May a rainbow of
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robin in nest

Robins of Renewal in the Garden

Hello Fellow Readers, The American robin is considered a sign of renewal adored in the garden. Though migratory birds, you can create a garden to keep them in your yard year-round— if I may share a story of my family of robins. On Sunday, after “first call” with Miss Ellie
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