Very few can survive, let alone thrive, living in the vicinity of a toxic individual. Many will succumb instantly, unable to co-exist even for a short time in a toxic environment. Others make a go of it, only to perish slowly or merely limp along, never reaching their full potential living in the shadow of a toxic presence.
Those of us with black walnut trees need to find those plants who are co-dependent, who will not only put up with juglone (the toxin present in all parts of Juglans nigra) but who will thrive under its canopy, bringing the tree its slippers and laughing at its offensive jokes.
I got an email from Simeon in Ithaca, NY, who gardens under black walnuts and inquired about planting a Kousa dogwood beneath his trees. Would C. kousa pack its bags after encountering a black walnut’s toxic personality or would it accept its adverse circumstances and become self-actualized anyway?
I wasn’t sure, but I did ask Simeon to send me a picture of the perennial border that he has planted under his walnut trees, and he kindly obliged:
As you can see, all sorts of hostas and ferns look completely at ease in the presence of juglone.
Simeon also highly recommends ‘Sunburst’ St John’s Wort (Hypericum frondosum ‘Sunburst’) as a plant that flourishes alongside black walnuts. Thank you Simeon!
I find it both comforting and inspirational to find other souls who are committed to finding plants who tolerate the presence of black walnuts — messy, pernicious, beautiful, bountiful black walnuts. What? You’re too good for to live with one? Oh, you don’t want to live with someone who drops bombs on your head and poisons your environment? Get outta here, snowflake!