Garden Photo of the Day

Favorite Plants in a New Jersey Garden

Some top performers from 20 years of gardening

Today’s photos come from Ruth Anne Detwiler.

I’ve been gardening for about 20 years in southern New Jersey, but we’ve been at this house for just eight years. There was nothing here but three dogwoods, a few shrubs, and lawn when we first moved in, so I’ve been gradually adding evergreens, flowering shrubs, and perennials. As I’m getting older I have been moving to more shrubs and fewer perennials/annuals. But this past summer, I added several annuals on posts and tree stumps to add some height and fill in the bare spots. I especially liked the look that a few tropical plants added, such as the banana (Musa sp.) and ti plants (Cordyline fruticosa) in the front yard. Crape myrtles (Lagerstroemia sp.) are my favorite small tree because they bloom for almost three months as they get larger.

Among the plants featured here are lilac crape myrtle, perennial ageratum (Conoclinium coelestinum, Zones 5–10), and dragon-leaf begonia (Begonia hybrid, Zones 10–11 or as an annual).

And featured here are Celosia (annual), Hydrangea paniculata (panicle hydrangea, Zones 3–8), and Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ (Autumn joy stonecrop, Zones 3–11).

I glued half marbles onto this old door to make an accent piece.

Featured here are ti plants with impatiens (Impatiens walleriana, Zones 10–11 or as annual), dragon-leaf begonia, and crape myrtle.

Separating the front yard from the backyard is a gate flanked by enormous dark-red crape myrtles.

My husband built the arbor/gate, and the ‘Jackmanii’ clematis (Clematis ‘Jackmanii’, Zones 4–8) blooms every June.


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View Comments


  1. sandyprowse 01/31/2019

    The crepe myrtle are spectacular. Living in frigid Canada I have never seen them before. I would not have thought that you would be able to grow that in New Jersey. It was a treat to see them and I love the clematis as well on your arbor/gate. And what a splendid idea to place the door in the garden. I love it!

  2. LauraJaneS 01/31/2019

    Do I see some 'Love Lies Bleeding' in that 3rd image with the white fence? I've been trying (unsuccessfully to find seed for it here) Do you use it as a cut flower? L.

    1. mainer59 01/31/2019

      It looks like Love Lies Bleeding to me, too. I got my seed from Fedco. Pinetree has them, too. Both of these are national companies based in Maine. I expect lots of other flower seed sources have them, but you may have to order rather than finding them on a rack in a store.. I start them (in Maine) mid to late April and grow them under lights before taking them outside. The seed is tiny and I tend to get a zillion seedlings. I carefully separate some out to grow on and compost the rest.

      1. LauraJaneS 01/31/2019

        Cheers. I'm in Canada - maybe that's why they haven't been with my usual vendor.

  3. Chellemp 01/31/2019

    Hello Ruth Anne, Your garden is so lush and beautiful. We share a love of crape myrtles. You have created a warm welcome to the yard by placing them on either side of the entrance. I am blown away by your creation of a mosaic on the old door with half marbles! Time consuming, but beautiful. Thanks for posting your pictures!

  4. User avater
    treasuresmom 01/31/2019

    I am as you have said getting older & trying to go more to shrubs too. Everything is lovely especially that door with the marbles!

  5. User avater
    meander_michaele 01/31/2019

    Looks like your past eight years have been very well spent in creating a lush and interesting garden. It has to be very satisfying to see your crepe myrtles blooming so prolifically and, oh, my, that clematis fulfilling your dream of climbing up and across the top of the arbor. Love your mosaic work on the door...great idea!

  6. cheryl_c 01/31/2019

    Ruth Ann, your gardens are beautiful. You still have so many blooming plants, even with your moving to more shrubs. I love the gate and arbor your husband built, and the door you so creatively turned into a real focal point. Your plants all look so healthy and happy. Thanks for sharing!

  7. User avater
    vanhatalosuomi 01/31/2019

    Beautiful displays - you've really packed in a lot of interesting plants and trees. Thank you for sharing your garden!

  8. User avater
    simplesue 01/31/2019

    It would be so nice to have a neighbor like you with a fabulous garden next door attracting more butterflies and birds. Love learning about all of the plants, and seeing them in your garden. If you like tropical looking plants that are hardy you might try Sasa Palmata, bamboo...I find it easy to control and green in the snow! If an ice storm turns it brown it returns beautifully in the spring.

    1. garden257lover 01/31/2019

      Thanks for the idea!

  9. btucker9675 01/31/2019

    The garden marble door is wonderful and having such a skilled husband making your arbors is priceless. Your garden is beautiful and eclectic - my favorite kind!

  10. nwphillygardener 01/31/2019

    Can you tell us more about the octagonal window (or is it a mirror?) that appears in the first photo? Is it fastened to the fence? It appears amongst that dense mix of foliage in a most intriguing way. Thanks for sharing your garden.

    1. garden257lover 01/31/2019

      It's a window we found at a yard sale that is wired to the fence. Thanks for encouraging me to send in some pictures!

  11. Musette1 01/31/2019

    the whole garden is exquisite! but I especially love the arbor and gate. nah, actually I especially love the whole garden! I envy you your crape myrtles - we're in zone 5, so can only enjoy them as container plants!

  12. garden257lover 01/31/2019

    Thanks for all your kind comments!

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