Garden Photo of the Day

Fall in John’s Garden

Beautiful gardens on a difficult site

foliage plants in various colors in fall

My name is John Markowski, and I garden in Zone 6B in central New Jersey. My property is inundated with deer, and the soil drains poorly, so I’ve built my garden around ornamental grasses and native perennials. The grasses are shining right now in combination with the slowly declining perennials.

close up of foliage plants in fall gardenMany gardens peak in the spring with a brilliant display of bright flowers, but this garden looks amazing right now in the fall, with each plant taking on a subtly different hue but all working together to end the year beautifully.

pink perennials and silver ornamental grassThe flowering stems of Miscanthus sinensis (Zones 5–9) have given way to their beautiful silvery ripening seeds. Behind them is a different variety of the same grass, which is just maturing a little later, so there’s a contrast between the different colors of seed spikes.

foliage plants in various colors in fallThis miscanthus has bright variegated foliage that contrasts with the darker foliage around it. In the front left is a bit of pink from obedient plant (Physostegia virginiana, Zones 3–9), a wonderful and very long-blooming native perennial.

close up of Sneezeweed right before going to seedSneezeweed (Helenium autumnale, Zones 3–8) has colorful daisy flowers in shades of yellow, orange, or red. But here, after the showy petals have fallen, it takes on a subtler beauty of the central yellow ball maturing slowing into ripened seeds. Note that the common name for this native perennial is a bit misleading; it is just one of the many native plants with show flowers that happens to bloom around the same time as ragweed, and so it gets blamed for the ragweed allergies.

garden bed full of fall foliageFall foliage and ripening seeds are doing what they do best.

wide view of garden with lots of ornamental grass in fallDeer and poorly drained soil can present challenges, but John shows that you can still make a beautiful garden in those conditions.


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. user-7821942 10/25/2023

    Inspiring! You have aptly shown how to use a site to your advantage despite its disadvantages, a good lesson for all gardeners. Thanks for sharing.

  2. User avater
    user-7007816 10/25/2023

    Great job in a tough environment. Your grasses are spectacular! Thanks for sharing.

  3. gardendevas 10/25/2023

    Bravo, John! Glorious colors and textures with such a natural flow. (Do you cut all those grasses down every spring…?!?)

  4. User avater
    treasuresmom 10/25/2023

    For those who may be interested, type John's name in the search & you can see his other submissions.

  5. btucker9675 10/25/2023

    Over the years I have become more and more infatuated with grasses and your garden is a perfect example of how beautiful and versatile they really are. Thanks for sharing this beautiful fall garden.

    1. cynthia2020 10/25/2023

      Re: grasses
      I have a new property and hope to design the small area I have with some lower clump forming grasses e.g. prairie drop seed. Right now there is a mess of ground cover, grass, and volunteer trees in about one third of the back garden. Will probably do a long period of smothering, but there is a slope, so that might make it more difficult.

  6. cynthia2020 10/25/2023

    John - I enjoyed looking at all the photos and reading the text. Your style reminds me of e.g. Kelly D. Norris and Piet Oudolf.

  7. User avater
    simplesue 10/26/2023

    You created a beautiful natural looking landscape- I just love it!
    So relaxing to look at all those natural looking colors and textures.

  8. jos29803 10/27/2023

    STUNNING! STUNNING! and more STUNNING! I love the colors and textures. Well done!

Log in or create an account to post a comment.

Related Articles

The Latest