Garden Photo of the Day

Fall in Jay’s Garden in North Carolina

‘Tamukeyama’ Japanese maple with Chinese doors at the entrance to the hosta garden.

Today’s photos are from Jay Sifford down in Charlotte, North Carolina (visit pevious posts from Jay HERE.) Jay says, “Fall is undoubtedly my favorite time in my garden. The flowers are gone, making way for a  spectacular display of foliage before it gives way to a very structural winter garden. But, for a short while, the foliage dances with the conifers one last time. It’s magical. My garden has evolved greatly over the last two or three years. With the addition of almost 100 new conifers and 40 Japanese maples, there is now more year-round structure and interest than ever before. Additionally, I have purchased several wonderful pieces of garden sculpture to create unexpected focal points throughout the stroll garden. This summer we built a Japanese-style yatsuhashi boardwalk that is quickly becoming my favorite area of the garden. I am in the process of planting 500 1-gallon ferns to create a fern glen radiating out from the creek on either side. Thankfully the ferns are virtually immune to damage from the four deer who live in that part of the garden. I have also added 30 ‘Cardinal’ twig dogwoods and some prostrate and weeping hemlocks for winter interest. For my birthday this year I treated myself to a 5-foot set of wind chimes that hang over the boardwalk, strung between two large poplars. When the deck wood cures I will stain it a Chinese red.” Wow, Jay, everything looks amazing! We definietly need to see winter shots in a while, and what all these changes do to the garden in spring. Check back in often! I cannot wait to see that awesome deck in red….

SEND ME PICS OF YOUR GARDEN, OR A GARDEN YOU’VE VISITED! Email me at [email protected]. Thanks! –Michelle

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Snakeskin maple (Acer conspicuum ‘Phoenix’) picking up bench color in the hosta garden.
Japanese maple picking up bench color in the hosta garden.
Dragon’s eye pine, Scots pine, ‘Diabolo’ ninebark, and ‘Crimson Queen’ Japanese maple.
Lyman Whitaker wind sculpture flanked by ‘Shaina’ Japanese maple and ‘Devon Cream’ cypress.

My ‘Cascade Falls’ weeping bald cypress marks the entrance to the woodland garden.
View from my new deck in the fern garden.
Yatsuhashi deck overlooking the creek, not yet stained.
Ben Parrish steel sculpture backed my American beech and rhododendron in the Light garden.

View Comments


  1. wGardens 12/03/2014

    Absolutely wonderful. Looking forward to more photos.... When is your "open garden tour" next year?!?!?!? :-) LOVE IT!

    1. Jay_Sifford 12/03/2014

      Hi Margaret. Thank you for the compliment. I'm on a garden tour next April or May, not sure of the exact dates at the moment. It's the Historic Rosedale garden tour. You can probably find information online. If you live anywhere nearby, come on by and introduce yourself. It would be my pleasure.

      1. wGardens 12/04/2014

        Thanks so much, Jay. It would make my day. If it is possible, I'll be there!

  2. clculp1961 12/03/2014

    Amazing!!! "Thanks!" for sharing, We felt as if We were walking with You and enjoying!!!

    1. Jay_Sifford 12/03/2014

      Thanks Chris. If you're ever in my area, look me up. We can walk it together.

  3. sheila_schultz 12/03/2014

    Jay, because of previous posts I've known that you are an amazing designer. What I didn't fully realize is the depth of your artists soul. Your evolving garden takes my breath away... I can't even imagine how glorious it is as a whole with the addition of so many thoughtfully placed conifers and Japanese maples. We definitely need winter photos! What a beautiful start to my day, thank you!

    1. Jay_Sifford 12/03/2014

      Thank you Sheila. I really appreciate the compliments. My "artists soul" is constantly evolving, something I wouldn't miss for the world.

      1. sheila_schultz 12/03/2014

        Yeah, I get it. Every year the way I look at my world changes. That's what keeps me going, keeps the challenges going.

  4. GrannyMay 12/03/2014

    Jay, I'm almost speechless with admiration! Your garden is fantastic! I had to go back and review what you have posted before and love the progression towards more Japanese accents over the years. Your weeping bald cypress is looking perfectly gorgeous and I lust after the Yatsuhashi deck. Can only imagine sitting there overlooking the creek. Please please send more photos! Thank you!

    1. Jay_Sifford 12/03/2014

      Hi GrannyMay. That's quite a compliment, knowing what kind of a wonderful garden you have created there. My tastes are leaning more towards Asian and contemporary aesthetics as of late. It's interesting that the lines are so similar in each style. We just finished installing one of my designs that combined the two in a way that makes me very proud.

      1. GrannyMay 12/04/2014

        Can you send Michelle pictures of that design? Would love to see it.

  5. lesliefarrelldelongpre 12/03/2014

    I am awe-struck by the beauty and the composition of your garden. I'm "saving" this one to study over the long winter! Thank you for posting.

    1. Jay_Sifford 12/03/2014

      Thank you Leslie. That's very kind of you to say.

  6. Nurserynotnordstroms 12/03/2014

    Wow wow wow I love your gardens these are the gardens of my dreams. I some how missed your photos from previous years,and I am so happy you shared your gardens again. The Yatsuhashi is the perfect compliment to that area,it would be my favorite place to sit also and the chimes add another amazing element. A calm zen feeling will be added when the ferns get planted (you can never have to many ferns) Your metal sculptures are gorgeous and the placement perfect.the concrete backer board is a nice clean look for everything else that is going on and I can imagine a stroll through your gardens are very healing. Do you garden this yourself?you are an amazing designer with the perfect piece of property. I have to say my morning has been a very enjoyable one because you shared you lovely gardens with us,I too would love to see the bones of your garden this winter it will be breathtaking

    1. Jay_Sifford 12/03/2014

      Why thank you Nurserynotnordstrom (I love the name, btw). Yes, I garden by myself. I have two employees who install my garden designs for others, and, if we have a slow day they sometimes help me, but generally it's just me. It's my therapy really, my testing ground, my outlet.

  7. Cenepk10 12/03/2014

    Nice…. Very nice… I need me some japanese maples… I have 1….

    1. Jay_Sifford 12/03/2014

      Thanks Cenepk10. Only 1? Throw caution to the wind and begin to live is my advice!

      1. Cenepk10 12/04/2014

        If you only knew, Jay…My one and only japanese maple is 14" tall. just planted… ;(

      2. Cenepk10 12/08/2014

        Jay !!! Went to check on my Japanese Maple & the voles made a freeway right through the tree. It was laying down. ;(

        1. Jay_Sifford 12/09/2014

          Darn voles. I'm thankful that I don't have any. Have you ever tried planting in Permatil, or some sort of gravel surrounding the root ball? It seems to help. I've personally never had to deal with them, thankfully, but have lots of friends who have. Perhaps this is a sign that you need to step out and buy some large Jap maples!

  8. NCYarden 12/03/2014

    Amazing, Jay. What an awesome piece of property. We certainly have shared interests. Japanese maples are my favorite as I am a collector, and conifers make the perfect complement to them. Which cultivar of maple is your favorite? I really enjoy the additional Asian art aspects you have incorporated as well. The ferns are an excellent idea - they add such a sense of liveliness to the forest floor. I would love to stroll your garden if I find myself in the Charlotte area. I am just outside Raleigh. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Jay_Sifford 12/03/2014

      Hi NC Yarden. I remember seeing photos of your garden awhile back. It was beautiful. We certainly have many of the same affinities. If you are ever down this way, please stop by. I'm planning a trip sometime soon up to the Raleigh area (I want to go to Architectural Trees). Perhaps we can meet.
      Regarding your question about which Japanese maple is my favorite, I really cannot answer that, as new ones are coming out every year. It's easier for me to answer that question about conifers.

      1. NCYarden 12/04/2014

        Sounds good,Jay. Yeah it's tough to pick an absolute favorite, but Koto no ito is still one my favorites (which, in fact, I picked up at Arch. Trees). Another would be Shigitatsu sawa. My wife loves Seiryu. Of course any day can have a new favorite depending on the appeal, so I completely get it. If you haven't been, you're gonna love Architectural Trees, especially if you love the conifers. Bring your credit card...Ha! Give me a shout when you're in the area - dasabio(at)msn(dot)com.

        1. Jay_Sifford 12/04/2014

          Will do, David. Thanks!

  9. appaloosa 12/03/2014

    The tree trunks from "view from my new deck in the fern garden" remind me of legs and feet of deer. Very nice garden.

    1. Jay_Sifford 12/03/2014

      Thanks Carolyn. Those tree trunks remind me of elephant legs, so it's interesting that you made that comment. They are a wonderful sculptural element down there. I'm fortunate to have them. Beside them is something else very special; someone carved initials and their boyfriend/girlfriend's initials into that tree who knows how long ago. I wouldn't erase it if I could. They're probably divorced by now! ha.

      1. appaloosa 12/03/2014

        You said you have 4 deer in your yard. I have had deer in my yard for years. Finally I put a fence and gate up so I can see them at a little distance but can save the annuals, roses, and tulips. Thanks for writing to everyone.

  10. greengenes 12/03/2014

    How beautiful your gardens are, Jay! I love your property with the slopes and woods. Its all so very well and interestingly designed. So do you get strong breezes up through the woods? Ferns will be nice when they will be at their fullness. The doors are such a nice addition with the color splashes of red throughout! Thanks for sharing with us your creativity and passion for gardening!

    1. Jay_Sifford 12/03/2014

      Thank you, Jeanne. I get some wind here, more than I thought until I installed the wind chimes down in the ravine. Apparently I have plenty of wind... just glad that the neighbors don't seem to mind my wind chimes. I wrote an article recently on introducing auditory components to the garden. I was amazed at how many people hate wind chimes, and how many love them.

      1. GrannyMay 12/04/2014

        The enjoyment of music/sound is a very personal thing. Some wind chimes are just sounds, others are tuned to be musical. Even with the musical ones, people will have strong preferences for one over another.

        It may make sense to lessen the volume of the chimes during really windy days, if you can. I have usually been able to disable the "clapper" on mine so my neighbours won't be disturbed.

  11. caroldt 12/03/2014

    Thrilled to see your garden featured this morning, Jay! I saw your property several years ago when it was on tour. It is not many miles from my own home. I've never forgotten the falls, beds of ferns, conifers and japanese maples. It continues to evolve with grace and beauty. When I struggle with my own property, I often wonder what you would create with your artist eye. I am always trying to absorb from the beauty in front of me as I dig away.

    1. Jay_Sifford 12/03/2014

      Thanks Carol. Glad you were here on a tour. I'm supposed to be on another tour, the Rosedale Tour, sometime (I'm not sure of the exact dates)... either April or May 2015. Please come back and introduce yourself!

  12. Clarkpark 12/03/2014

    Spectacular garden pics! The red bench really makes your Japanese maple pop.

    1. Jay_Sifford 12/03/2014

      Thanks Patricia. I appreciate the compliment.

  13. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 12/03/2014

    Jay, it looks spectacular. Thanks for sending in the fall photos. I've seen lots of yatsuhashi bridges but have never seen the concept applied to a deck. Brilliant! Although I don't comment there, I love your contributions to Houzz. Great articles and photos. Thanks for sharing inspiration. Cheers!

    1. Jay_Sifford 12/03/2014

      Thanks Tim! I've you're ever in my neck of the woods, come have a glass of wine on the deck. I appreciate your comment on my articles over at Houzz. I'm trying to write more and more to develop that latent talent (my dad was a syndicated columnist with the Philadelphia Inquirer and an author) and eventually want to write a book... but then, don't we all?

      1. sheila_schultz 12/03/2014

        You need to write a book, Jay... You inspire me, too.

        1. User avater
          meander_michaele 12/04/2014

          Hi, Jay, I lived in a south Jersey seashore town growing up and the Philadelphia Inquirer was our major paper. During what years was your father a columnist? And speaking of writing, your phrasing "the foliage dances with the conifers one last time." conjured up such a delightful image...talent runs in your family.

          1. Jay_Sifford 12/04/2014

            Hi meander1. My dad was with the Inquirer from 1976 until about 1992.

      2. User avater
        Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 12/04/2014

        Be careful what you offer, Jay. You may just get a visit! Hopefully you are a scribbling notes and fleshing our concepts for your book!

        1. Jay_Sifford 12/04/2014

          That would be just fine, Tim. RE a book, I think I have a really good idea and substance for something that, to my knowledge, hasn't really been written on before, at least not much. When I have some time I'll pursue it more.

  14. User avater
    meander_michaele 12/03/2014

    Jay, you are such a gifted photographer (you frame your subject matter in such an eye pleasing way) and of course, the artistry you display in your beautifully evolving landscaping is so impressive and inspiring. Thanks to all your thoughtful plant choices, yours is the kind of property that will only get more breathtaking as the years pass. I am absolutely enchanted by the Lyman Whitaker wind sculpture and how you have sited it in such a perfect location...its neighboring plant companions highlight the different color hues in the metal so generously. And the Ben Parrish sculpture has to be such a delight to come upon for visitors to your well as the pleasure it gives you on a daily basis. It's always so special when the right person and property come together and make Mother Nature proud!
    ps...what might seem like a "dummy me" question ..will the steel in the sculpture develop a rust patina?

    1. Jay_Sifford 12/03/2014

      Hi meander1. Thanks for the kind words. That Lyman Whitaker sculpture is my second one. Next time around I'll post a photo of the other one for you. The steel Parrish sculpture would rust except that it has several coats of clear-coat on it. Eventually I'll probably have to reapply that product, although, as Ben and I agree between laughs: "Rust is our friend!"

      1. User avater
        meander_michaele 12/04/2014

        I know I'd love to see the other sculpture. I had to smile at the wise words "Rust is our friend"...there was a time I didn't appreciate the more "au naturel " look of metal in the garden...however, the passage of time filled with so many gardening tasks has made me look at the rusting process more kindly.

  15. perenniallycrazy 12/04/2014

    Chiming in late but hope it's not too late to express my admiration of your work and gardens Jay. Yours is such a strong and handsome design for gardens and landscapes. Love your plant choices, too especially because they are mostly shrubs and trees. I can only begin to dream of having a garden and a gift to garden like yours.

    1. Jay_Sifford 12/04/2014

      Thank you Perennially Crazy... very nice of you to say. If I designed your garden, though, you might have to change your screen name... ha.

  16. annek 12/04/2014

    Simply Stunning

  17. thevioletfern 12/06/2014

    Amazing! That says it all.

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