Garden Photo of the Day

Beautiful Grasses in John’s New Jersey Garden

It’s always a treat to visit John Markowski’s New Jersey garden, but especially so in fall, when his grass-heavy garden shines the brightest. So I was super happy to see his name in my inbox the other day. He says, “I garden in Zone 6B in rural New Jersey and because of the poor soil (clay and wet due to high water table and shale) and deer, I base most of my garden around ornamental grasses, native perennials, and a few evergreens selectively hidden from the deer. Fall is an outstanding time in my garden with the almost daily changes in color of the grasses due to their late season blooms and everchanging foliage colors. I like to think my garden dies well into winter.” It does, indeed, John. Everything looks so, so beautiful!

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  1. User avater
    meander_michaele 11/19/2014

    No doubt about it, John, your garden wears its autumn garb beautifully. I can almost see the sway of the grasses and hear their gentle rustling whispers...your pictures have captured the special splendor from this time of year so perfectly. I love how the tawny tones of the grasses are set off by the deep glowing burgundies of different deciduous bushes...just gorgeous!

    1. user-7007309 11/19/2014

      Thanks so much! Fall is the premiere time in my garden but it is never long enough!

  2. Nurserynotnordstroms 11/19/2014

    John your grasses are so colorful and I can see the movement and hear the rustle of the blades through your images. How large of a property do you garden it looks like it goes on forever. I'm also not familiar with the plant in the last photo can you tell me what it is? Do you leave the grasses standing through the winter for winter interest and trim them early spring?I really enjoyed seeing your fall garden. I found your blog also and I had read it before and lost track of it. It's very enjoyable with your humor to give it a lot of interest. You are so very fortunate to live so close to some amazing gardens what opportunities to chat and gather knowledge. I am looking forward to one day visiting your great state.

    1. user-7007309 11/19/2014

      I am on just over two acres but have wonderful views to borrow from. The last plant is Helenium (Sneezeweed). I leave my grasses up until late February. And a huge thank you for finding the blog. You are too kind!

  3. perenniallycrazy 11/19/2014

    I wish I was personally there to see,hear and experience the color, texture and movement of your resplendent fall garden John. Such a sight to beholden.

    1. user-7007309 11/19/2014

      Some day I would love to host tours, but I so far from that point yet. You don't see all that I am hiding. Ha!

  4. GrannyMay 11/19/2014

    John, your photos illustrate beautifully why grasses are the perfect plants to re-ignite gardening passion that may be fading with the end of summer. Whether they are in the background or stars of the foreground, their presence commands attention and admiration. Thank you for sharing these! Also, I love your great website

    1. user-7007309 11/19/2014

      Thank you so much! They do take on different roles throughout the year and I'd be lost without them. Thanks for coming out to the blog and reading. Always appreciated!

      1. GrannyMay 11/20/2014

        Your passion for the plants you grow, plus your sense of humour make the blog a must-read!

  5. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 11/19/2014

    That's quite the fall garden! I can almost hear the wind rustling the beautiful amber waves. Looks great!

    1. user-7007309 11/19/2014

      Thank you Tim! The rustling sound gets me through these brutally cold days.

  6. Jay_Sifford 11/19/2014

    This is simply beautiful.... simple and beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

    1. user-7007309 11/19/2014

      Thanks so much Jay!

  7. NCYarden 11/19/2014

    Awesome display to carry into the Winter. Great movement and sound too with a breeze I'm sure...a veritable live performance (both dance and orchestra). I'm envious of the great condition they are in. For years I have grown Dallas Blues switchgrass in an area typically dry in the garden, but the past 2 seasons have been rain heavy and fairly wet, and by Fall the grasses are so beat down they cannot recover. I am not getting the wonderful Fall/Winter show. So thanks for providing what I've been missing for a couple of years.

    1. user-7007309 11/19/2014

      Thank you! I do not have any Dallas Blues, but all of my Panicum hold up well in very wet conditions. I have no dry areas so tough to judge how they would handle it.

  8. greengenes 11/19/2014

    Iam inlove all over again! To grasses that is! Thanks for stirring us up, John! Beautiful colors and textures for sure!

    1. user-7007309 11/19/2014

      Thanks so much! Grasses get me through October - March. I'd be insane without them.

  9. sheila_schultz 11/19/2014

    Garden catalogs would be smart to photograph the grasses they sell in your gardens, John. I would guess you never plan a long holiday in the Fall? As Jay said... 'Simply beautiful.'

    1. user-7007309 11/19/2014

      I welcome any garden catalogs with open arms. That would be fun. Any thank you for the kind comments!

  10. annek 11/19/2014

    Ethereal amazing garden.

    1. user-7007309 11/19/2014

      Thanks for the kind words!

  11. GrannyCC 11/19/2014

    Gorgeous John thanks for sharing. I say this every year but I must get more grasses.

    1. user-7007309 11/19/2014

      Thank you and yes you need grasses!

  12. User avater
    HelloFromMD 11/19/2014

    Hi John, Have enjoyed your blog for a long time. I especially like the ruby foliage of the shrubs against the gold of the grasses. I recall you take a lot of photos of birds. Do you have any success in growing winterberry? Or is this deer candy? I didn't have a berry left on mine after last year's harsh winter. I hope that helped the birds. Also I was looking for Joe Pye weed in your photos. That grows wild around here next to streams and I wondered if that plant could take your wet conditions. Could you recommend some shrubs that you grow that the deer don't touch?

    1. user-7007309 11/19/2014

      I planted two very small winterberry last spring so to soon to judge much from them although they haven't been touched by the rabbits or deer ... yet. I have five varieties of Joe Pye right now and they are the absolute best! Thinking about doing an upcoming post dedicated solely to good ol Joe. My Itea and Clethra have never been touched by the deer and only some nibbling on the Viburnums. Hopefully I didn't just jinx it!

      1. GrannyMay 11/20/2014

        John, it may depend on the variety, but my local deer nibble the leaves and new shoots of my Viburnum tinus shrubs whenever they get the opportunity. The shrubs end up looking like muffins, as the tops overhang the nibbled bottoms.

  13. digginWA 11/19/2014

    Beautiful layering and stellar photo skills!

    1. user-7007309 11/19/2014

      Thanks so much Tia! The layering has been a challenge and I'll blame it mostly on luck.

  14. Meelianthus 11/19/2014

    Beautiful palette of colors and textures John, wonderful photography and GREAT winter food for the birds, Thanks

    1. user-7007309 11/19/2014

      Thank you! Gotta hook up those birds in winter.

  15. Vespasian 11/19/2014

    Hi John I love all you grasses and shrubs. I am working on a similar garden myself and have some of the same grasses, I would love to know the names of yours for reference. I live just north of Tronto in Ontario

    1. user-7007309 11/19/2014

      Thanks Ann! I named many of them in my comment above but can also tell you I have narrowed down my deciduous shrub list to mostly Clethra, Itea and Viburnums and so far so good.

  16. altavitae 11/19/2014

    Yes, John, your garden looks great at this time of year. It would be good if you were to include some names of grasses, so that we could include them in our garden with similar conditions.
    I have added grasses & sedges to our garden in upstate NY, zone 6A, and yes with deer.
    I have also found a nice shrub, the Bayberry, which is hardy here, and hopefully deer-resistant. I'm using Calamagrostis 'Karl Foerster( Feather Reedgrass), Switchgrass, Panicum virgatum, variety 'North Wind', in a privacy hedge against a road. After an early snowfall, they're looking great! I chose grasses that have an upright look, and grow taller.
    I've avoided the Miscanthus because I feared they'd get too big, too soon! I have one in another part of the garaden and after 2 yrs is already 2-1/2 ft in diameter.


    1. user-7007309 11/19/2014

      Surely. I am fortunate in that my Miscanthus ('Morning Light', 'Gracillimus', 'Variegatus', 'Purpurascens') have stayed within bounds for years now. I can't say enough about Panicum 'Northwind' and 'Rots' and 'Heavy Metal' as they provide interest from early summer up until spring. I have so many others that haven't matured enough yet but can tell you Andropogon gerardii 'Red October' may soon become my favorite of all!

      1. Vespasian 11/20/2014

        Thanks so much for the info John, I have found tiger grass just wonderful too, very hardy and grows very tall. I also love sedums and spires which also look lovely in the fall.

  17. user-7007309 11/19/2014

    Thanks Diane! Cutting back is a nightmare but worth the effort once Fall hits. Thre photography piece has been so much fun just following the mantra of trial and error.

  18. thevioletfern 11/20/2014


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