Garden Dilemmas, Delights & Discoveries, Ask Mary Stone, New Jersey Garden blog

Independence Day on the Top of the World

the view at Big Pocono State Park with a pink flowering Mountain Laurel in the foreground overlooking a mountain range.

Hello fellow readers, Last Sunday, we visited Big Pocono State Park, which sits atop Camelback Mountain Resort in Tannersville, PA. I’ve coined it the Top of the World, where you can see eastern Pennsylvania and portions of New Jersey and New York. More than that, there’s a serenity and sacredness in walking amongst the magnificence of nature’s glorious landscape.

There’s one trail I particularly seek to meander where Mother Nature’s sense of design is perfection. The Mountain Laurel’s soft pink and white blooms (Kalmia latifolialook like fluffy cream topping above dark shiny leaves that contrast gloriously with a carpet of pale green ferns below. When you look closely at each flower, they are etched with narrow pink stripes that point to a starburst center. Ornate, yet delicate. No wonder pollinators are drawn to them.

Mary Stone, Garden Dilemmas, Ask Mary Stone,Gardening tips, Garden Blogs, Stone Associates Landscape Design, Garden Blog, Mary Stone with Miss Ellie Mae

Miss Ellie Mae & at “The Top of the World”

There are white-barked Paper Birches (Betula papyrifera), resilient to the winds, rising above along with a few Scrub Pines (Pinus virginiana), creating a see-through ceiling in the outdoor room. The ferns edge a grassy path, just wide enough to walk side by side, the ferns tickling your ankles. The Mountain Laurel was just beyond peak as typically Father’s Day is when it’s in full bloom there. Still magnificent, the trek to take in their blooming glory is an annual visit I cherish. The photo of Miss Ellie and me, the print version of my column in The Press, was taken there. Curt grabbed a new picture of Ellie and me. We’ve both grown since her unexpected arrival. Yes, we’re older, and one of us has whiter hair (I’m thankful for highlights). We’re wiser too; I like to think, and for sure happier than when we met nine years ago, both having since healed from a difficult past. How about our matchy-matchy smile?

We made our way back to the parking lot, where families were gathered around picnic tables, grilling an array of foods, some not familiar. A few folks were afraid of Ellie, scared of dogs as I once was. We were respectful and maneuvered around them.

How fortunate we are to live where many languages can be spoken, where bountiful food prevails, where we can choose a religion or no religion, and where we can have faith. As we celebrate the Fourth of July—Independence Day, observing when the fathers of our country signed the Declaration of Independence—let us not forget or take for granted our freedoms. Our choices. The beauty of the world around us. Let’s embrace our differences in the spirit of knowing we are all the same – seeking happiness and peace and taking care of our families. It’s all about love—Happy Birthday, United States of America. Garden Dilemmas?

Mary Stone, Garden Dilemmas, Ask Mary Stone,Gardening tips, Garden Blogs, Stone Associates Landscape Design, Garden Blog, Comfort Zone Camp

Comfort Zone Camp Rocks, a Bereavement Camp for Kids

Comfort Zone Camp Rocks, a Bereavement Camp for KidsA side note: I just returned from a volunteer weekend with Comfort Zone Camp, so I’m a bit late posting this column. It’s a privilege to be part of an organization that helps children through their grief journey. The last evening of the camp was a bonfire that included hilarious “do what I do and say what I say” games, delicious s’mores, and wrapped up with a somber circle around the flames, each camper tossing in a message to their loved ones. Before the bonfire, the children prepared a bag for the luminarias that lined the path to the bonfire. It is indeed all about love.

I invite you to read about my first time at Comfort Zone Camp in a column titled Flower Power.

Mary Stone, owner of Stone Associates Landscape Design & Consulting. As a Landscape Designer, I am grateful for the joy of helping others beautify their surroundings which often leads to sharing encouragement and life experiences. These relationships inspired my weekly column published in THE PRESS, 'Garden Dilemmas? Ask Mary', began in 2012. I dream of growing the evolving community of readers into an interactive forum to share encouragement and support in Garden and Personal Recoveries - seeking nature’s inspirations, stimulating growth, weeding undesirables, embracing the unexpected. Thank you for visiting! Mary

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