Garden Photo of the Day

Clare’s garden in New Jersey, Day 1 of 2

Roses in the backyard in mid-May: The pink roses on the rose arbor are 'Zephirine Drouhin' climbing roses. These are great for arbors because they are vigorous, grow in part shade, have a wonderful scent and they are practically thornless. The rose on the trellis on the right in the picture is a 'Cornelia' climbing rose. The slate path going under the arbor is lined with 'Karley Rose' fountain grasses (just starting to come up) and leads to a bench where you can sit and enjoy the view. Photo: Courtesy of Clare Oliva

Today’s photos are from Clare Oliva in Saddle River, New Jersey. We featured a photo from Clare’s garden a year ago–refresh your memory HERE–and it’s obvious now that she was holding back on us!

Our front yard in late April – featuring the biggest weeping cherry tree I’ve ever seen. My husband, who is 6 feet tall, is standing beneath it to give a sense of the size. In the background, a huge stand of forsythias are in full bloom along with a bed of daffodils. When this tree is in bloom, we consider it to be the official start of the gardening season and we look forward to it so much. Photo: Courtesy of Clare Oliva

Clare says, “My husband and I both love gardening and spend every spare minute we can working in our one-acre garden (that basically means weekends since we both work full-time in New York City).

Glorious peonies in late May: Our backyard is on a slope and we had three level stone terraces installed 7 years ago. Along the wall of one of the terraces, we planted peonies. So every year in late May, we have this glorious 150-foot long display of peonies. This is definitely one of my favorite times of year in the garden. Photo: Courtesy of Clare Oliva

“I recently went through my garden pictures from April through September and picked out some of my favorites (That is always hard to do when you love everything in your garden — it’s like choosing which child is your favorite!)”

Spring color in late May featuring foxgloves, allium, roses and peonies in the distance. Photo: Courtesy of Clare Oliva

Wow, Clare. You do this on the WEEKENDS?? Truly impressive, and beautiful!

This is a picture of the side yard in early June featuring ‘Stella de Oro’ daylilies blooming along the slate path. On the rock wall above the daylilies is a long row of ‘Rozanne’ geranium (not yet in bloom in this picture). If you look closely, you can see a chicken wire extension my husband added to the fence to keep the deer out. (They’d polish off those daylilies in one visit if they got in!) Photo: Courtesy of Clare Oliva
This picture features our hedge of ‘Carefree Delight’ shrub roses in full bloom in June in the back yard. To the right of the hedge, you can see our “Parasol Lady” topiary and ‘Missouri Evening’ primrose blooming behind her. On the left, you can see the perennial beds and pink Asiatic lilies in bloom and towards the center of the picture in the back garden beds, you can see the ‘Lady in Red’ lacecap hydrangea in bloom. Photo: Courtesy of Clare Oliva
More ‘Stella de Oro’ daylilies in bloom in the center of the garden in June. You can also see the bright yellow blooms of the ‘Missouri Evening’ primrose and ‘Jackmanii’ clematis in full bloom on the trellis. Photo: Courtesy of Clare Oliva

***Clare sent so many great photos that we’ll have another batch on Monday–stay tuned! Also, you’ll find LOTS more info in the captions.***

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View Comments


  1. duckcovegardening 11/02/2012

    Your gardens are magnificent!! It makes me realize how quickly we are moving into the winter season and a wonderful time to satisfy the ending of yet another spring planning process. The bulb garden, forsythia and cherry tree remind us that in only four months we will begin to look for witch hazel and hellebore to acknowledge that we have made it through yet another snowy hibernation. Thanks for sharing your beautiful gardens.

  2. dukeofargy 11/02/2012

    Fabulous gardens, Clare. I love how you have worked with the landscape you were given, and made it even more beautiful with your use of the rock walls. Your use of mass plantings of lilies and peonies along the border is very impressive. I look forward to seeing more of your beautiful garden next week.

    I surely hope your garden was spared the wrath of the recent storm which caused so much disaster in your home state.

  3. jwiegmull 11/02/2012

    Can't wait for the next installment, Clare. Your garden is fabulous! As stated above, your use of mass plantings really makes the garden. I hope to see end more thru the whole season.

  4. User avater
    meander_michaele 11/02/2012

    Clare, even though your exact street address isn't given, I wouldn't be surprised if somewhere, the word "Heaven" was included...your garden is DIVINE! What a sensory delight it must be when that line up of peonies is in bloom. Also,everything is so beautifully and impeccably and your husband are an impressive team. I can't wait for the next round of pictures.

  5. mainer59 11/02/2012

    I love your garden design! You show how effective it can be to use a lot of the same plant. Your maintenance is perfect, especially impressive since you work full time. I second the sentiment in hoping that you and your garden were spared the worst that Sandy had to offer. Since you work in NYC, know that the whole country is sending thoughts for a speedy recovery.

  6. tractor1 11/02/2012

    Clare, your garden looks very Botanicesque, I bet you could charge admission. It's hard to believe you two do all that on weekends only, everything looks spectacular. My only question is about your huge weeping cherry, are you positive it's a cherry tree, it doesn't have the growing habit of any weeping cherry I've ever seen. Isn't weeping cherry a graft, and grows like the small one you have among your daffodils. Enjoy your weekend, everyone.

  7. tractor1 11/02/2012

    After doing some research I've discovered that's a Weeping Higan Cherry:

  8. cwheat000 11/02/2012

    Very, very impressive. That is a lot of work for just the weekends. I hope all the nice compliments give you the energy to keep up the good work. Your garden really is a joy to look at. What kind of edging do you use between the lawn and the beds? Keeping up on maintenance issues like that, makes a huge difference. I get frustrated with myself when I let those things slide. I too hope your beautiful garden was spared from the storm.

  9. wwross 11/02/2012

    This is beautiful. Michelle, I really like the photo presentations that show how the plants fit in with the garden designs. Franlky, I get much more out of it than just looking at close-up, pretty pictures of plants. (Oops! Sacrilege!)

    Clare, I love the effect of how you position complementary plants in front of and behind your walls of stone, while allowing the eye to sweep along the curves of the garden.

  10. MichelleGervais 11/02/2012

    Hey all-while you're here, head on over to one of our other blogs, Kiss My Aster, and Vote MUM or ASTER. I know you have some strong opinions... I voted for the write-in candidate.

  11. Happily_Gardening 11/02/2012

    WOW oh WOW!

  12. sheila_schultz 11/02/2012

    Seriously... you created and maintain these beautiful gardens just on the weekends? Amazing!

  13. zippygal 11/02/2012

    WOW WOW WOW!!!!!!!!! How very lovely!! Yes, heaven would describe your garden!

    On a side note, I hope you and your family and your lovely garden are faring well after Hurricane Sandy. Our hearts go out to all the citizens affected by this horrible "storm".

  14. Darlenewhite 11/02/2012

    As a garden writer and horticultural photographer, I would have loved to do an article about your garden. It is so very lovely. I am especially impressed by the weekends only worktime. Been there, done that.

    Hope Sandy spared your lovely Paradise. No messing with Heaven on Earth !!!!

  15. sunterra7 11/02/2012

    I sure have to add another "Wow" and thanks so much for the detailed descriptions of your plantings!

  16. ClareRocky 11/02/2012

    Thanks so much for all the wonderful feedback. It means a lot coming from people who understand and appreciate what goes into making a garden! I should clarify that, in addition to weekends, we spend all of our vacation time at home so we can work in and enjoy the garden.

    Tractor1, thank you for the link to the PDF. I am pretty sure our big flowering tree is a weeping cherry because it has had some problems over the years and on a few occasions, we've had arborists treat it and they have always referred to it as a weeping Cherry. The PDF said that Weeping Higan Cherry trees get to be 40 feet tall. I think our tree is taller than that, but I'm not sure. My husband is 6 feet tall standing in front of the tree in the picture -- does it look 40 feet tall based on his height? I'm bad at estimating heights and distances!

    Cwheat000, the edging between the beds and the lawn is a simple, deep shovel edge. We do it in early spring right after the winter clean up and then once again in the middle of the summer. I really like sharp edges in the beds -- makes for a very neat and manicured look.

    Duckcovegardening, your reminder that in 4 months, we will be past winter and starting the gardening season anew was very encouraging! Winter always seems to pass so slowly while waiting for the garden to come back to life.

    Thanks to all of you for your concern and good wishes regarding Hurricane Sandy. My husband and I (and our house) made it through the storm unscathed, but we are surrounded by devastation and our neighbors were not so lucky. One neighbor had a huge old tree crash through the roof. 80 to 100 year old huge trees tangled in power wires are still blocking many roads and lines are two miles long to get gasoline.

    Regarding our garden... We lost two Hemlock trees along the back fence of the garden and we also lost the beautiful rose arbor you see in one of my pictures. Fortunately, when the arbor came down with the winds, it didn't pull the vines too far out of the soil. I think we will have to replace the arbor and I am hoping we can somehow salvage the vines. (I'm guessing we will have to cut them way back to get them off the old structure and it will probably take a few years for them to get back to their former glory. But, hey, if this was the extent of the damage we had from such a ferocious storm, we feel blessed.

    I made it back to work in NYC yesterday and it was eerie how the city is so empty and how many buildings are still dark. We will all bounce back, but I'm sure it will take a while before everything returns to "normal".

    Thanks to all of you for your concern and good wishes and for your feedback on my garden!

  17. ClareRocky 11/02/2012

    Tractor1, I wanted to let you know that the small weeping cherry in the front bed is a Snow Fountain Weeping Cherry. That one will not get much bigger than it is right now.

  18. tractor1 11/02/2012

    Clare, it's difficult to be precise regarding geometry from a photograph on a monitor (being two dimensional), so being how your husband measures about one inch and the tree measures about four inches and allowing for depth (the tree is further away) I'd guess your tree is about 35-40 feet tall. Most weeping cheery trees one sees are of the type amidst your daffs. Those don't grow much taller than 8' but become fuller and their trunk attains a relatively large caliper, perhaps a foot or more in diameter. There is quite a bit of information on the net about weeping higan cherry, here's one:
    I love your garden, but you two must work your tails off from sunup til sundown. Soon the snow will start, you'll be able to take a break. I'm done with mowing for 2012, yesterday I removed my mower, attached my front loader, and put on my snow plow, I'm ready.

  19. ClareRocky 11/02/2012

    Thanks for the great info, Tractor1. Winter is definitely a time for rest -- and time for planning the spring and summer garden!

  20. dashwp 11/02/2012

    I love the peonies. I love the fact that the garden seems so immaculate. Congratulations, please keep posting. We would love more pictures.

  21. terieLR 11/03/2012

    WhOw! Thanks for thumbing through all those photos and coming up with these beauties Clare. I know it takes time to organize and caption each. Well done. Your gardens are a joy to view and I'm looking forward to Monday's post! So glad to hear that your damage was minimal. Something tells me you two will NOT be waiting until that Weeping Cherry blossoms to tackle those garden issues. ;) Happy weekend.

  22. daisy8 11/28/2012

    I love your Zephirine Drouhin climbing roses! I just planted two earlier this fall to add to my plantings around a large arbor. Any advice? Yours are beautiful!

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