Garden Photo of the Day

Carolyn’s New Jersey Garden

Cramming the space with beautiful plants

garden bed with lots of foliage plants and yellow flowers

My name is Carolyn McKibbin, and I started this garden on my 2/3-acre suburban property in Summit, New Jersey, seven years ago. Named Colt Corner gardens, it is situated in Zone 6b among a thriving population of deer, rabbits, and chipmunks. I grew up in Sacramento in a family of talented gardeners, and later in life I worked for one season at Reeves-Reed Arboretum here in Summit on the horticulture team. A plant addict and “cram-scaper,” my husband (who, to his credit, performs all the lawn care) calls my garden “Seymour.” One of my missions in life is to share seeds, volunteers, and plant divisions with friends and neighbors who are new to gardening. I also strive to attract birds and pollinators, especially the monarch butterfly. I love the staying power, textures, and color contrast of foliage.

garden bed full of bright foliage and flowersThe front bed along my street curb is a mix of perennials, shrubs, and weeping trees like this Fagus sylvatica ‘Purple Fountain’ (Zones 4–7).

garden bed with lots of foliage plants and yellow flowersPulmonaria (Zones 3–7) and Hakonechloa (Zones 5–9) mingle with Rudbeckia hirta (Zones 3–8) and Orienpet Lilium ‘Lavon’ (Zones 4–10).

garden path cutting through lots of plantingsThis view is from the deck of the north-facing side yard. I trained the two Cedrus atlantica ‘Glauca Pendulas’ (Zones 6–7) to grow over the fence arbor. It’s an all-season head-turner.

sloped garden bed edged with large rocksThese moss rocks were installed for soil retention seven years ago when the garden was first established. Echinacea purpurea(Zones 3–8) and Rudbeckia hirta attract butterflies and goldfinches. To the right is Acer palmatum ‘Ryusen’ (Zones 5–9).

garden bed with pink flowersOne of my favorite lilies is this Lilium regale (Zones 4–8). Passersby can smell its fragrance from the street.

rock garden full of succulentsThis is my patio rock garden. Each year I add one or two new cultivars of Sempervivium to my collection. A few are in bloom now. I love that they are hardy and evergreen in my climate and produce their many “chick” offsets profusely, which I enjoy sharing with friends. I always say to keep their foliage dry on rocks and situate them in full sun.

container plantings in front of a garageContainer gardening is such fun! Big stars this season are the orange-flowering Canna indica (Zones 7–11 or as a tender bulb) and purple-veined Colocasia esculenta (Zones 7–11 or as a tender bulb). The classic “Thriller-filler-spiller” formula for container design never fails me.

garden with bright orange and green plantsThis terra-cotta olive oil urn was inspired by those at Reeves-Reed Arboretum. It is a focal point for my back patio walkway, which is flanked by Rhus tyhina ‘Bailtiger’ (Zones 3–8), Cercis canadensis ‘Ruby Falls’ (Zones 5–9), Alchemilla mollis (Zones 3–8), and plenty of Asclepias tuberosa (Zones 3–9).

terracotta pot with succulentsI refresh the terra-cotta urn’s plantings with each season.

bird nest in a maple treeCan you spot the baby robins in the nest? Mama bird has good taste: she chose an Acer palmatum ‘Butterfly’ in which to build her home.

shade garden full of foliage plantsAnd finally, a view of my woodland shade garden. A friend recently bought a house for complete demolition and let me salvage a patch of Adiantum pedatum (Zones 3–8), which I divided and planted along this walkway in fall 2021.

If you want to see more of Carolyn’s garden (and her beautiful quilts!) check our her instagram: @quiltergardener


Have a garden you’d like to share?

Have photos to share? We’d love to see your garden, a particular collection of plants you love, or a wonderful garden you had the chance to visit!

To submit, send 5-10 photos to [email protected] along with some information about the plants in the pictures and where you took the photos. We’d love to hear where you are located, how long you’ve been gardening, successes you are proud of, failures you learned from, hopes for the future, favorite plants, or funny stories from your garden.

Have a mobile phone? Tag your photos on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter with #FineGardening!

Do you receive the GPOD by email yet? Sign up here.

View Comments


  1. garden1953 07/15/2022

    Lush, beautiful gardens with many happy plants. Thanks for sharing!

    1. coltcornergardens 07/15/2022

      That's very kind, thank you!

  2. nwphilagardener 07/15/2022

    You gave us a nice way to start the day, Carolyn. Thanks for sharing your talents. The maidenhair ferns shows the calm and lush feeling of a large drift of a well-grown plant!
    And that terracotta urn does its most important job withor without any plants.

    1. coltcornergardens 07/15/2022

      It was my pleasure! Thank you for enjoying the photos.

  3. gardendevas 07/15/2022

    Absolutely love your lush and sumptuous gardens! Beautiful textures, colors, and combinations of shrubs, and evergreens with the flowers. Thanks for sharing!

    1. coltcornergardens 07/15/2022

      Thank you for the kind sentiment!

  4. User avater
    treasuresmom 07/15/2022

    So beautiful!

    1. coltcornergardens 07/15/2022

      Thank you!

  5. User avater
    simplesue 07/15/2022

    Oh this is my kinda garden!
    Great design and something interesting every where!
    I too love foliage, and I love the way you use all the shapes and textures and use flowers as accents!
    I'd love to take a walk through your garden right now- it looks so inviting!

    1. coltcornergardens 07/15/2022

      That is very kind, thank you! Yes, the garden is bursting right now, but with this dry, hot summer in New Jersey it's a challenge to keep it all watered!

  6. wildthyme 07/15/2022

    Wow! Just wow!

    1. coltcornergardens 07/15/2022

      Thank you!

  7. btucker9675 07/15/2022

    Love your garden, Summit is a beautiful town in NJ. I lived in Franklin Lakes, NJ and wept like a baby when we had to leave. You have created a wonderful space and I know those baby robins will grow up healthy and happy there. Thank you so much for sharing.

    1. coltcornergardens 07/15/2022

      Franklin Lakes is lovely! Thank you for wonderful feedback!

  8. erla 07/15/2022

    I, too, love foliage. And your woodland garden is so beautifully full of shade plants. I am amazed that you have such a luscious garden in your colder part of the US. I am in Oregon in Zone 8 where the weather is quite differendt. I would love to know the name of the variegated plant at the lower left corner of your very first picture. It is so lovely. Thank you. Erla

Log in or create an account to post a comment.

Related Articles

The Latest