Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Black Walnuts

Black Walnuts have defined much of my gardening efforts over the last few years.

They are beautiful. Their branches are high and arching and they provide wonderful shade in the summer. There is a line of them which run through my and several of my neighbors yards. The trees date to the old farm which was subdivided to make up our properties.

They are also poisonous. Not to people, but to other plants. They exude a natural herbicide called juglone which interferes with a plants natural ability to produce oxygen.

So in my garden I have several large trees which are actually trying to kill everything else around them.

My first avenue to learn about these trees was to the local nursery, the nurseryman just looked at me with pity and said "nothing lasts under black walnuts". And as an example he pointed to black walnuts around his  property which stretched to the sky alone without anything around them.

Chagrined I returned home to scour the Internet. Turns out that although there are quite a few things which will not survive near black walnuts there are a quite a few that do at least OK.

The real key is to baby them a little bit, even if they are those plants that need little attention elsewhere,  under the walnuts the key is to keep them well watered, and fertilized.

I was going to stretch this post out  a bit and post a bunch more on the plants that do well and those that dont, but  but I just haven't been able to get it done.  I will try to start taking pictures over the next few weeks and show you what plants look like under the walnuts and not under the walnuts.

Just to get a little flavor, this hosta was under the walnut for six years and looked barely alive. I moved it this spring to a new spot and it perked up like a sailor on shore leave, When I was looking at it this spring,  it had bloomed for the first time ever.

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