Garden Photo of the Day

Judith’s Garden Adapting to Challenges

Deer don’t stop this gardener

sloped garden bed covered in plants and featuring a small waterfall

Today we’re visiting with Judith.

After 25 years of living in my home in Pines Lake, a lake community in Wayne, New Jersey, my garden is still a work in progress with constant challenges.

I have a tiered property, and the upper woodland area area was once filled with hemlocks (Tsuga canadensis, Zones 3–7), but the woolly adelgid decimated this area. I now have the area covered in moss with azaleas (Rhododendron hybrids, Zones 5–9), mayapples (Podophyllum peltatum, Zones 3–8), and Hosta.

Within the last few years, the deer have brought another challenge. My hostas and other deer delicacies in the front yard were being obliterated. Slowly I have transplanted deer candy (assorted varieties of hosta) to a fenced-in backyard and replaced them with hellebores (Helleborus hybrids, Zones 4–9), yucca (Yucca filamentosa, Zones 4–10), ‘Everillo’ sedge (Carex oshimensis ‘Everillo’, Zones 5–9), Coreopsis, and Chinese fringe flowers (Loropetalum chinense, Zones 7–10).

The hillside in my backyard was the ideal place for a waterfall, which I added three years ago. I surrounded it with azaleas, Astilbe, hostas, ‘Everillo’ sedges, Heuchera, turtleheads (Chelone obliqua, Zones 5–9), Hydrangea, and even jack-in-the-pulpits (Arisaema triphyllum). I added lights in the waterfall for nighttime enjoyment.

small garden shed with bright foliage plants aroundBackyard shed area: hostas, Japanese painted fern (Athyrium niponicum var. pictum, Zones 3–8), gold dust plant (Aucuba japonica, Zones 7–10), Hakone grass (Hakonechloa macra, Zones 5–9)

hostas and other foliage plants around a dry streambedHillside with Hakone grass, hostas, azaleas, and a dry river bed

close up of pink mountain laurel right before bloomMountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia, Zones 4–9) is getting ready to bloom in my front yard.

birdhouses along a garden path with pink red and purple flowersThis hillside includes birdhouses, azaleas, and hostas. I put in two railroad-tie paths to get to the woodland area.

garden statue surrounded by lush plantsThis is the “woodland” area, with hostas, ferns, and a rose bush. Moss has naturally covered, the area which I welcomed.

small corner garden bed with fountain and small plants in front of white fence and gateI removed the grass from the sides of the house and made a flagstone path. I put a corner garden near the deck with heuchera, a sedum, and annual begonias. I had to add the gate and fence because deer would walk up the path and into my back gardens!

close up of green helleboreBecause of the deer pressure, I replaced all my hostas with different varieties of hellebores (Helleborus viridis, Zones 4–8) in the front yard. 

sloped garden bed covered in plants and featuring a small waterfallAt this waterfall—which is lined with sedge, azaleas, heucheras, hostas, and. Japanese iris (Iris ensata, Zones 5–9)—I often see cardinals bathing in the afternoon.

slope and waterfall garden at dusk with colorful garden lights onAt night, the hillside in spring and autumn looks magical, with blooming azaleas and Carex in spring and bursts of color in fall.

front yard garden with lots of ornamental grassMy front yard has a semi-circular garden and features yuccas, ‘Everillo’ sedges, Hakone grass, columbine, Chinese fringe flowers, allium, daffodils, and coreopsis.

sloped garden with bright red azalea in bloomThe backyard: when I bought my home the hillside was covered with anemic grass and was difficult to mow. Azaleas anchor the hillside now.


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  1. sandyprowse 07/10/2023

    One word: SPECTACULAR! Absolutely gorgeous. Well done. I loved everything you have done. Made it a magic retreat.

  2. User avater
    user-7007816 07/10/2023

    Beautiful gardens. I particularly like how you have adjusted your gardens over the years. The hillside waterfall is wonderful.

  3. Oxdriftgardener 07/10/2023

    It is obvious that a lot of love and labour's has gone into that yard. The results are beautiful. I don't know if it is available in your market but I have found (in Canada) the best defence against deer is Bobbex, it can be purchased in a gallon size concentrate which will mix up 20 litre size bottles and is enough to last the whole season and I grow a lot of deer candy..

  4. btucker9675 07/10/2023

    Your gardens are amazing and I know the amount of labor that went into creating them. I know your area well - have dear friends who lived on the lake for many years. They have moved now and I know it was hard to leave their beautiful home there. You are truly a wonderful gardener!

  5. User avater
    treasuresmom 07/10/2023

    Your waterfall area is so very pretty.

  6. User avater
    simplesue 07/10/2023

    Oh so pretty! And good to hear how you adapted to wildlife with your plantings, love love love the lights and the flagstone with white gate!

  7. user-7821942 07/10/2023

    Beautiful gardens! Thank you so much for sharing. It is inspiring to see how you have adjusted your gardens to adjust to the deer pressure. Carex 'Everillo' is one of my favorite plants and I use it liberally in my wooded garden.

  8. buckleez 07/10/2023

    Simply gorgeous. I wish my Hakon was as lush as yours, but our climate in Idaho is hot and dry. We do share a love of Hellobores which are indestructible, beautiful and self-seeding. Deer, elk and moose never mess with them. You have a bit of paradise there. Well done!

  9. jos29803 07/10/2023

    Judith, you adapted to your challenges beautifully. Absolutely gorgeous. The waterfall and shed area are quite distinctive and add a uniqueness to both areas. Well done!

  10. nicki_s 07/10/2023

    Your waterfall garden is stunning! Thanks for sharing.

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