For when you get demoralized thinking about all the things you can’t grow under your black walnut, take heart. This venerable black walnut tree, located at Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria, VA, holds court over a lovely planting of magnolias and shade perennials:
I did not check to see if the magnolias were marked, but they are probably a cultivar of M. soulangeana, and they are pretty glorious right now.
Underneath was a comely mixture of bear’s foot hellebores, other hybrid hellebores, Japanese Shield fern, and Virginia bluebells:
This bed would be the envy of any woodland gardener, so those of us with black walnuts should not be feeling sorry for ourselves. I will say that the folks tending this garden add quite a bit of shredded leaves to their beds, which makes the soil nice and fluffy and the plants plenty healthy. My gut tells me that healthy, rich, organic soil tends to counteract the effects of juglone for plants that might be semi-susceptible.
However, I personally have hellebores, ferns, and bluebells growing very robustly under my black walnuts in terrible, dry soil. So I think these plants will grow well even if you don’t give them perfect duff.
What I’m rrrrrrreally jealous of with this garden bed is that mid-layer — the magnolias — which connects the ground layer to the big black walnut and pulls it all together. I have not had as much success getting small ornamental trees to survive with my BWs….maybe I need to put M. soulangeana on my shopping list….
Definitely a “come hither” tree when in bloom: