Garden Dilemmas, Delights & Discoveries


Join columnist and garden designer Mary Stone in sharing dilemmas, delights, & discoveries in the garden of life.


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Join columnist and garden designer Mary Stone in sharing dilemmas, delights, & discoveries in the garden of life.




Ep 93. Cycles in Our Garden of Life

In this episode, we reflect on how Planning & Planting Gardens and the Seasons of Gardens relate to the Cycles in our Garden of Life. And we chat about natural ways to nurture our gardens, such as Three Sisters Gardening and No-Till Gardening, rather than the dependency on unnatural chemicals that hinder our dear earth. Link to Related Stories: Cycles in our Garden of Life Three Sisters Gardening No-Till Gardening and Starting a No-Till Garden For more about Robin Wall Kimmerer's book...


Ep 92. The Secret Life of Pinecones

This week's episode is about the secret life of pinecones and cones- the fascinating fruits of conifers. We chat about the ingenious design of the encasement of woody cones and how they pollinate and protect seeds. Then wrap up with a reflection on native Rhododendrons (Rhododendron maximum) we came upon on our way to Blue Mountain Lake, part of the Delaware Water Gap Recreational Area. And, a personal note about Jolee, our rescue dog, and kind passersby who expressed concern seeing me...


Ep 91. Snow Geese Teach Acceptance

Snow Geese and Canadian Geese are glorious to many but pests to some. In this episode, we reflect on the Miracle on the Hudson River and lessons of acceptance. Link to Related Stories: Snow Geese Teach Acceptance It Wants to Fly Swarming Common Grackles Link to All About Birds for more about Snow Geese Song of the North Wind: A Story of the Snow Goose *** I'd love to hear about your garden and nature stories. And your thoughts about topics for future podcast episodes. You can email...


Ep 90. Woodpeckers & Healing Sounds of Nature

Mother Nature and Mother Earth make many magnificent sounds. And the healing sounds of nature improve health and well-being, even in the winter. I came upon a Pileated Woodpecker on New Year's Day, a marvelous yet mischievous bird. This episode includes a reflection on an analogy of healing sounds to kaleidoscopes – remember them as kids? And we are inspired to become astute observers, judging less and listening more. Not only to add joy to your day, but your happiness will be contagious to...


Ep 89. Wisdom in the Rhythm of Water

There is much wisdom in the rhythm of the water. In this episode, we talk about the cycles of water, including the fascination of ice crystals decorating windows like etchings of intricate art. Then there's Dr. Masaru Emoto's work published in, The Hidden Messages in Water (2004), where he explains how loving words of gratitude turned into exquisite crystals. While threatening phrases caused the crystals to become misshapen as if confused. We wrap up in appreciation for the sustenance of...


Ep 88. Insights from the Interdependence of Trees

Trees are connected and need each other to survive, just like people need each other, as do plants and animals. And there are insights we can learn from the interdependence of trees. While what is happening in the world seems overwhelming. Our community will thrive if we treat our neighbors as ourselves, sharing love and compassion, like trees left standing in a forest, counting on and helping each other. We wrap up with coaching on how to tickle the roots of new plants and the benefits of...


Ep 87. Gentle Strength of Umbrella Pine

In this episode, we chat about Umbrella Pine, a living fossil dating back to when dinosaurs walked our world. The same is true of Ginkgo biloba, which we spoke about in episode 85. There's a lesson in their endurance: The gentle outlasts the strong, referring to the wisdom of the Tao Te Ching, an ancient philosophy to live our true peaceful nature in the rhythm of nature. Link to Related Stories: Gentle Strength of Umbrella Pine Enduring Hope of Gingko Trees Tickle and Rub...


Ep 86. The Revival of an American Holly

In this week's episode, we chat about B & B versus the benefits of Container-Grown trees that limit transplant shock. But sometimes B and B's are disguised as a container plant. A lesson I learned in a sad way. Then tending to the outside holiday decorating turned the sadness into laughs and happy tears as we decorated Ellie's memorial tree – a replacement one as the Blue Spruce that served as a Christmas tree died. We talk about the attributes of Ilex Opaca and the mystery of a 'Mary...


Ep 85. Enduring Hope of Ginkgo Trees

Peter Crane's book Ginkgo: The Tree that Time Forgot is a fascinating biography of the living fossil– a tree that survived the horror of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. With its resilience comes great lessons of enduring hope for peace. (I met Peter when he spoke at a Woody Plant Conference held at the Scott Arboretum in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, where magnificent ginkgo espaliers and trees command the lawn.) The episode ends with the analogy of the surviving ginkgo with inner cambium, which...


Ep 84. Winter Season of Growth

In the winter season, roots are busy readying for the next season of growth. And it's an ideal time to root yourself in serving others. Small deeds make a difference. This episode is inspired by the wisdom gained from the luncheon of Karen Ann Quinlan Hospice volunteers. Then, it leads to a story of a kind passerby helping to save a snapping turtle that touches my heart. I hope it inspires you too. Link to Related Stories: Winter Season of Growth Talking to the Trees on Arbor Day The...


Ep 83. The Fall of a Leaf

In this episode, we compare the seasons of leaves to cycles of our lives- a theme of my upcoming book, Lesson of the Leaf. And the wisdom, healing, and growth that come from observing the rhythms of nature and our gardens. We chat about The Fall of Freddie the Leaf, the classic book by Leo Buscaglia that provides comfort and inspiration to children explaining the cycle of life, and while leaves drop to the ground, their purpose doesn't end. Link to Related Stories: The Fall of a Leaf The...


Ep 82. Gift of Pawpaw Trees

In this episode, I share a treat of gathering an allotment of veggies at Genesis Farm in Blairstown, NJ, gifted by a client who's become a friend. And the gift of coming upon Pawpaw fruit, having planned to plant a Pawpaw Tree in memory of my lifelong friend Elsa. We chat about the attributes of Pawpaw trees and how to start them from seed. And end with my special request for a few helpers to preview portions of a book underway titled Lesson of the Leaf. If you'd like to help, please email...


Ep 81. Bulbs Extending Blooms & Deterring Squirrels

In this episode, we talk about an assortment of spring flowering bulbs to extend the bloom, as shared by my friend and design colleague Marty Carson from Three Seasons. We also talk about speedy ways to plant them. Then we wrap up with Phil's Squirrel Dilemma, worthy of a standup comedy act. And how to prevent squirrels from digging up your bulbs. Plus, a sidenote with Patti Doell of Little Big Farm's technique of bulb bouncing back to a previous story about No-till Gardening – Perhaps...


Ep 80. Halloween History & Sycamore Ghosts

In this episode, we share Halloween's History and the legends of Sycamore Trees, also known as the Ghosts of the Forest. We talk about the magnificence of Sycamore, one of our largest hardwood trees, and the happy ghosts circling a massive one in Hope Township, NJ. We wrap up with creating garden ghosts - my humorous ritual of covering potted gardens with sheets to protect them from frost. This year, I let nature do her thing. There's freedom in that. Link to Related Stories: Halloween...


Ep 79. Fall Needle Drop of Renewal

Seeing evergreens drop needles often triggers concern. It's kind of like an abundance of hairs in your shower drain. But Fall Needle Drop is normal. We wrap up this episode with an analogy of Fall Leaf and Needle Drop and the renewal of the cells in our body and skin. We are always in transition. It's part of what we can count on in this life - change. May we find comfort in the cycles of the seasons. Link to Related Stories: Fall Needle Drop of Renewal Vitamin Packed Leaf Confetti Leaf...


Ep 78. Boxwood Dilemmas & Connie’s Garden Delights

This episode features a special garden visit with Connie Kleindienst and her daughter Susan Meagher, a new neighbor and friend. Susan mentioned her Mom's boxwoods are showing signs of disease. So, I offered to drop by primarily to meet her Mom and witness their mother-daughter connection in the garden. We chat about symptoms and remedies of the boxwood dilemmas, such as Boxwood Blight, caused by a fungus, and Boxwood Leaf Miner, an insect. But Connie's boxwood dilemma is likely Volutella....


Ep 77. Edible Fungi and Fairy Rings

My neighbor ate his volleyball – a Giant Puffball Mushroom, that is. I have one, too, that I've been monitoring in amazement, but eating it didn't occur to me. It turns out they are delicious. In this episode, we chat about how to prepare Giant Puffball Mushrooms (Calvatia gigantean) and other edible fungi that are easy to ID. Then we talk about Fairy Rings –circles of fungus that grow outward a few inches to several feet a year. Mushrooms, some edible, can develop outside of the rings...


Ep 76. Mary Reynolds and Nurturing Nature

In this episode, we chat about Dare to be Wild, a movie based on the youngest gold medal winner of the Chelsea Flower Show and Mary Reynolds' love of the land. If we each do our part in nurturing nature in the bit of land we are blessed to live on, we can heal our dear earth—one garden at a time. We wrap up with my family gathering - a baby shower held at a llama farm. My sister's son and his wife are expecting a child in December. Dot handed me a bin of mom's treasures as we were leaving....


Ep 75. Designing Seasonal Garden Layers

In this episode, we chat about a presentation given by Claudia West, author of Planting in a Post-Wild World, about the importance of layering plant communities and designing garden layers. "Plant more plants" was music to my ears – you'll see why! Link to Related Stories: Designing Garden Layers Native Plants for Native Pollinators Butterfly Garden of Growth Native Plants, especially Oaks, are Essential – featuring Doug Talamy's book The Nature of Oaks. Other helpful links: American...


Ep 74. Native Plants for Native Pollinators

While director of Rutgers Gardens in New Jersey, Bruce Crawford gave a talk, he coined Sexy Native Plants. He's now with Willowwood Arboretum bringing a reflection on his presentation about Native Plants for Native Pollinators (the G-rated version – smile). We chat about sources to find more native plants specific to your area. Such as my go-to book by Doug Tallamy: Bringing Nature Home- How you can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants. And other helpful sources such as plant lists provided...