Garden Photo of the Day

Crimson Red Highlights in NC

By Kim Charles

Jay's garden takes on a fiery edge this fall season.

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"Fall has been dry here in Charlotte and, as a result, the autumnal foliage color is better than ever. It is difficult for me to pull myself away from my garden this time of year. No matter where I am in my space:  the conifer garden, woodland garden, meditation/sculpture garden or the Japanese fern garden, the season’s flamboyant show seduces my mind and captivates my soul. Autumn helps me realize that gardening is about the greatest thing I can do.


Shown here, in order:  ‘Viridis' Japanese maple leaf; ‘Tamukeyama' Japanese maple and my Chinese doors; ‘Gloriosa' lily blooming out of season against a ‘Mariken’ gingko; ‘Blue Snake’ deodar cedar, ‘Curly Tops’ chamaecyparis, and ‘Orange Rocket’ barberry with ceramic pot that marks the entrance to my front garden; in the upper pond garden the Chinese red bench reflects the hues of the surrounding maples while capturing the afternoon sunlight; my first Japanese maple, ‘Crimson Queen’; stone steps, originating beneath a ‘Cascade Falls’ weeping bald cypress, lead down to the Conifer Amphitheater and Japanese fern garden; an ‘Orangeola’ Japanese maple and boulder; front garden vignette:  ‘Devon Cream’ chamaecyparis, ’Shaina’ Japanese maple, ’Skylands’ oriental spruce, ‘Feelin’ Blue’ deodar cedar and ‘Golden Pacific’ shore juniper with a Lyman Whitaker wind sculpture; ‘Curly Tops’ chamaecyparis with ‘Crimson Queen’ Japanese maple."


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  1. frankgreenhalgh 12/06/2016

    Wow Jay - Your gardens and photography have blown me away. Absolutely fantastic! No wonder it captivates your sole. I simply don't have enough superlatives to do justice to the design, colour and texture of your magnificent gardens. Cheers from Oz

    1. Jay_Sifford 12/06/2016

      Thanks Frank. It's good to know that garden language translates to the other side of the world. Happy gardening to you!

  2. user-3565112 12/06/2016

    Jay , Your garden design skills & these photos are terrific. I can't add anything to what Frank has already said but I am willing to bet there is no garden in this world that has those beautiful Chinese doors in a setting anything like yours. Thank you & good luck, Joe

    1. Jay_Sifford 12/06/2016

      Thanks Joe. I do love my Chinese doors. I hope they last at least as long as I do!

  3. user-7007498 12/06/2016

    Morning Jay. So great to see your garden again. Those Chinese doors amaze me. Japanese maples are such awesome plants year round, but I love their fall color followed by their beautiful winter structure, especially when there is snow on the ground. Your photos are fabulous. I especially love your frequent use of bluish conifers agains the reds of the maples and barberry. Terrific eye for design. Thanks for starting my day with a smile.

    1. Jay_Sifford 12/06/2016

      Thanks Kevin. Glad my work could add a smile to your morning. Keep warm up there!

  4. NCYarden 12/06/2016

    Stunning, Jay. Always a pleasure to see your garden featured, especially with all its wonderful...well....features. I can't get over your Chinese doors. It certainly has been a wonderful Fall for the Japanese maples here in NC - definitely one of the most vibrant in some time. I too have been perpetually immersed myself with long moments of staring. We really have to exchange garden visits soon. I can truly see how much the garden means to you. No doubt you will continue to make it even more impressive. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Jay_Sifford 12/06/2016

      Hi David. Yes, we should do that. I don't get up to Raleigh area too often, but let's make it happen.

  5. User avater
    meander_michaele 12/06/2016

    Sigh, those gorgeous red framed doors speak volumes about the kind of gardener you are, artist, a visionary, someone who balances boldness with touches of timeless romanticism and someone who never compromises on quality. Your garden inspires peace and a reverence for beauty and yet, conversely, your understandable love for it is probably downright fierce.

    1. Jay_Sifford 12/06/2016

      Thanks so much! You really should be a professional writer. It makes me happy to know that the intent and spirit of my garden translates through photos. Happy gardening!

    2. User avater
      Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 12/06/2016

      I think Jay is going to take your comment and put it on all of his business materials, Michaele! Those really are rich compliments and well-deserved. We'll have to get the scoop from David on what kind of person Jay really is, if they swap tours! :) ;)

      1. sheila_schultz 12/07/2016

        You are right Tim... Michaele's words are filled with wisdom combined with poetry.

  6. User avater
    treasuresmom 12/06/2016

    My, my, my, I love that Curly Tops’ chamaecyparis with the ‘Crimson Queen’ Japanese maple. They are gorgeous!

  7. Chris_N 12/06/2016

    It is all wonderful, Jay. Your Crimson Queen sure live up to their name. Nice to see your ‘Tamukeyama' Japanese maple. I just planted one this year in a protected spot near the house. It will take a while before it looks like yours, though. The two deodar cedars caught my eye as well. Just looked them up - z7-9. Not going to happen for me. It's great to see your garden again.

  8. tennisluv 12/06/2016

    Jay, your garden just blew me away. The Ginkgo biloba 'Mariken' with the 'Gloriosa' lily stopped me in my tracks. But then, just about every one of your pictures did the same. I agree with treasuremom, the Crimson Queen Maple and Chamaecyparis pisiferamake are a gorgeous combination. And the red bench, oh my. Definitely feeling a strong case of garden lust.

  9. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 12/06/2016

    Always a pleasure to see your garden in any season, Jay. Your skills and innate talent for writing, designing and collecting really show in your personal garden and from what I've seen, ooze out of you in your client's gardens. I think I am most impressed with the balance of hardscape/garden elements and your plant collection. I can easily go through each photo and say with certainty that the doors, pots, bench and backer-board wall are absolutely the best part of your garden, then instantly go back and say that your plantings are the best part. That is quite an art to strike that balance. Sheesh. You're getting me all mooshy. No, I have not been drinking this morning...... :)

    1. Jay_Sifford 12/06/2016

      Thanks Tim! What? No morning cocktail? ha.
      I'm glad that my gardens look balanced because this artist brain of mine is anything but that!
      Oh, and my podophyllums are still hanging on.... and one with blooms!

  10. perenniallycrazy 12/06/2016

    Swooning and drooling at the same time Jay! I believe you have perfected the art of yin and yang - your choice of hardscapes and plantscapes complement and balance each aspect flawlessly. Your garden is an absolute dream.

    1. Jay_Sifford 12/06/2016

      Thanks Cherry. Your garden is so beautiful that I take your compliment quite to heart.

  11. LeeGun 12/06/2016

    Breathtakingly beautiful! Love the Japenese maple and red bench together! We are frozen with snow on the east coast of Canada!

  12. sheila_schultz 12/06/2016

    The passion you have for your gardens shows with the movement of every leaf, stem and branch. You have the eye and the soul of an artist, Jay, and your brushstrokes surround you with the beauty of nature at it's best. Your photos are mesmerizing and once again leave me awestruck.

    1. Jay_Sifford 12/06/2016

      Sheila, thanks so much. Your words mean a lot to me. Happy gardening.

      1. sheila_schultz 12/07/2016

        Jay, your passion is worth respect. You create art with your landscaping.

  13. annek 12/06/2016

    I second the comments made, particularly Tim's. I believe your sense of balance and natural order represent an amazing talent

    1. Jay_Sifford 12/06/2016

      Thanks so much! Happy gardening.

  14. schatzi 12/06/2016

    Gorgeous! Everyone else has said it better than I can, so I will just add that your photos remind me of Ansel Adams. Beautiful.

  15. user-6536305 12/06/2016

    Stunning and I echo with the rest. Very very artistically decorated.! I love the three leave decorations above your red seat in first photo (cover photo). What are they made of? Are they mounted on a vertical cliff? So mysterious. Love the setting of your garden, rock stairs, big boulders and all.

    1. Jay_Sifford 12/06/2016

      Hi Lilian. I'm glad you like my garden! To answer your questions, the three leaf installation is made of rusted steel. They are mounted on a three panel privacy screen made of concrete backer board. I designed the screen to mimic the look of sheer granite cliffs so form a relationship between that area of the garden and the large native granite boulders in other parts of the garden. Happy gardening!

      1. user-6536305 12/06/2016

        How big is your garden?

        1. Jay_Sifford 12/06/2016

          I live on half an acre, including the footprint for the house, but the lot looks larger because of borrowed forest views that are an unbuildable easement.

  16. User avater
    LindaonWhidbey 12/06/2016

    Good morning, Jay. You captured my attention with that red bench which reflects the Japanese maples so beautifully. Your Chinese door is also just the asset needed to set off the 'Tamukeyama', one of my favorite maples. Your clients are certainly lucky to have your creative eye planning their gardens. We can all buy plants but achieving what you have here requires true talent and artistry. Thanks for sharing.

  17. Meelianthus 12/06/2016

    Goodmorning Jay ~ Your gardens are truly a work of love and art and that is such a beautiful combination. You are so fortunate to have a career that you so enjoy also. Your gardens are beautifully arranged, which I know can take years, and your collection of Maples and firs are outstanding with

    the added garden features throughout. Wonderful photos!

    1. Jay_Sifford 12/07/2016

      You know, I do feel so fortunate to have this career. It's an honor to design gardens for the people who put their trust in me. My main life goal is to create as much beauty as I possibly can between now and whenever I die. Thanks for your kind words.

      1. Meelianthus 12/07/2016

        That is a truly beautiful goal Jay and this world today needs a lot of beauty.

  18. VikkiVA 12/06/2016

    Well, I am drooling all over my keyboard! What a stunning garden you have in all seasons Jay. Down here in the southern most part of eastern Virginia we have had a very wet fall so our color has not been anywhere as exciting as yours. Thank you so much for sharing all the beauty you have growing in your garden. Vikki in VA.

  19. greengenes 12/06/2016

    Hi Jay! So wonderful to see your gardens! Every picture i can really see why you want to be in your gardens even more so! So lovely and graceful and the door is spectacular! What a wonderful gift you have and to share it with us... thank you!

  20. Clarkpark 12/06/2016

    Jay, your garden is beautiful as usual, but breathtaking in the fall. I'm very surprised to see a Gloriosa Lily! Are your Gloriosa lilies hardy for you? I have to bring mine into the garage every winter. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Jay_Sifford 12/06/2016

      Yes, they are hardy for me here in 7b/8a, but are late to appear so I always think they're dead. This one, blooming in late fall, is an anomaly.

      1. sheila_schultz 12/07/2016

        How perfect! Timing is often everything!

  21. user-5117752 12/06/2016

    Well!!! You've certainly made my day, Jay! I can't be as eloquent as all these others so may I just add my name and a ditto mark after all the wonderful comments?!

    1. Jay_Sifford 12/06/2016

      Judy, if my garden photos can make your day, I take your comments as a huge compliment. Glad I could help! Happy gardening.

  22. thevioletfern 12/07/2016

    What an incredible show! Wonderful garden. I can see why you find it difficult to pull yourself away. I'm having a difficult time not viewing these photos for a fifth time!

    1. Jay_Sifford 12/11/2016

      Thanks Kathy!

  23. GrannyCC 12/08/2016

    Gorgeous what beautiful colours in your garden

  24. eddireid 12/10/2016

    Jay, I am blown away by your beautiful trees and garden. And the door! Oh! My! All so beautiful, full of color, gorgeously placed, wonderfully pruned. I wax poetic if I go on.
    How could you not feel at peace here. Unbelievable.

    1. Jay_Sifford 12/11/2016

      Thanks so much! If you're ever in the neighborhood, come by for a garden stroll.

      1. eddireid 12/12/2016

        You are very kind,thank you.

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