Garden Photo of the Day

Fall in John’s Garden

Ornamental grasses steal the show

brown ornamental grasses and perennials in fall

My name is John Markowski. I garden in Zone 6B, in rural New Jersey, where I’m surrounded by deer and the soil is wet clay 24/7. Because of that, I focus on native shrubs, perennials, and my personal fave, ornamental grasses.

plant combination in fall with shrubs and ornamental grassIt is all about seed heads and fall foliage in this photo. Tall Japanese silver grass (Miscanthus sinensis, Zones 5–9) rises up in the background, with a mass of Autumn Joy sedum (Hylotelephium spectabile ‘Herbstfreude’, Zones 3–10) in the foreground. On the left, a Viburnum shrub is starting to color up for autumn as well.

ornamental grass and shrubs in fall colorWith the right choices, your perennials and shrubs can provide just as much color and interest in the fall as the foliage on the trees.

dark ninebark shrubs in front of bright chartreuse amsoniaA dark-leaved ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius, Zones 2–8) flushing even darker and more dramatic with fall sets off the gold foliage of Amsonia hubrichtii (Zones 5–8).

brown ornamental grasses and perennials in fallThough the reds and yellows are wonderful, all the shades of brown are a beautiful part of the fall garden.

purple flowers in front of golden foliageThere are a few blooms still in the garden—such as the purple trumpets of obedient plant (Physostegia virginiana, Zones 3–9) in the lower right corner—but the fall foliage is the star of the show.

large ornamental grass in front of treesThe ornamental grasses look beautiful, and the red maple (Acer rubrum, Zones 3–9) to the right is living up to its name with incredible fall color.

We’ve visited John’s beautiful garden before, so if you want to see what it looks like at other times of the year, check it out: John’s Garden in New Jersey, Revisited.


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View Comments


  1. jmarkowski 11/04/2022

    Thank you FG GPOD for having me!

  2. User avater
    treasuresmom 11/04/2022

    Really nice.

  3. User avater
    user-7007816 11/07/2022

    Beautiful use of grasses, particularly in the fall.

  4. cheryl_c 11/07/2022

    Wonderful pictures, great plant combinations and a very satisfying solution to your challenges! I love the viburnum and ninebark as anchors in the 'sea of grass' - they look like they might be newer additions. Great job!

  5. User avater
    simplesue 11/07/2022

    You've made the natural land look so beautiful.
    I'm amazed at how it's been gardened- yet no un-natural borders or plants that don't look like they belong in the landscape.
    So fabulously natural- I love what you've done!

  6. sheila_schultz 11/07/2022

    John, you have created a natural masterpiece in an area that would be a challenge for most gardeners. It's a beautiful vision!

  7. btucker9675 11/07/2022

    Great garden - you've created a beautiful quilt of color, shape and texture. Isn't ninebark a fantastic plant? I have one in a front bed that people stop on their walks to admire, especially when it's blooming - looks like something from a Victorian Valentine card. Thanks for sharing your beautiful place.

  8. user-7982608 11/11/2022

    Which switchgrasses are showing in your photos? Thom

  9. raleighgardener 11/14/2022

    John, always love seeing your garden and reading about it. In the next to last photo, where you have a bit of obedient plant still in bloom, what are the large shrub with the yellow leaves in the left background, and the large yellowing grass in the right background?

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