Garden Photo of the Day

Marybeth’s career-changing garden in New Jersey (12 photos)

Japanese wisteria on pergola (which my husband built). Photo/Illustration: All photos courtesy of Marybeth Ciandella

Today’s photos are from Marybeth Ciandella and her husband Mark in Pompton Lakes, New Jersey. Marybeth says, ” I am a hairdresser turned garden designer. It was the garden obsession that led me to a career change.  My husband and I have done all the work ourselves here and maintain everything ourselves, too.”

Oh, we definitely need to see more photos, Marybeth. Such a great garden! **more info in the captions**

**** The push is still on–get outside and take some last minute shots, or compile a few you took earlier in the season. I’ll be eternally grateful…. Email them to [email protected]. Thanks! ****

Aesculus parviflora (bottlebrush buckeye), Oxydendron arboreum with the red fall color, Fothergilla gardenii, Pennisetum setaceum ‘Moudry’.
Last picture is a longer garden view featuring an ‘October Glory’ maple tree with bench under it.  To the left is coralbark maple with gold fall color.  The yew hedge and lattice wall at the back define this newly renovated rectangular garden area in the foreground.  This was one of those odd shaped areas that are leftover lawn from all the other beds we cut out of it!  It has always bothered me and last winter I came up with a plan to solve the issue.  We created straight lines out of all the lawn edges, and transplanted some yews to match the hedge you see on the left- then trimmed all the yews smaller.  You can’t tell now that the right hedge just went in.  My husband built the lattice wall to stop the view through to another garden area…this created order out of the chaos and made 2 separate garden areas that now make sense.
Fothergilla gardenii later in the season, with the purple berries of Callicarpa americana, and my favorite blue ball.
Clockwise is Itea ‘Henry’s Garnet’, Aucuba japonica ‘;Mr. Goldstrike’, and groundcover Hypericum ‘Brigadoon’.  The ‘Brigadoon’ looks fantastic is all seasons. I would love to move some to another area but have not been successful.  It’s very hard to propagate.
This is Viburnum rhytidophylloides ‘Willowwood’, which has NEVER had a berry display for me before!  It has been in at least 10 yrs.  I stopped trimming it this year, since I can’t seem to control it’s size anyway!  I guess it rewarded me with berries.  I loved this shrub even without the berries–it flowers in the spring AND the fall–very unusual.  It earns its place in the garden for sure.  Just to make sure it has a summer highlight also I grow a clematis vine through it for blue summer flowers.

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  1. user-1020932 11/21/2013

    i must have awakened this morning way early for a reason and that was to see this garden feature. what a beautiful space you and your husband have created. how old is the garden? is that a dawn redwood in the last photo on the left and do you have problems with Itea suckering up and keeping it under control. i had forgotten how brilliant Oxydendron can be in fall in addition to their summer flowers, i gotta carve out a space for a few here. great garden, Marybeth

  2. gloriaj 11/21/2013

    Marybeth, you have truly found your calling. Your garden is beautiful, I love the look pf the Fothergilla gardenia with the berries of Callicarpa americana. I just purchase a Callicarpa americana this year because I love the berries on it. You can come and design my garden

  3. OuiserThatsMe 11/21/2013

    AMAZING!!!!!!! Enjoy!!!!!

  4. lynnmarierose 11/21/2013

    gorgeous! amazing!

  5. wGardens 11/21/2013

    Wonderful Gardens. The first photo is especially stunning! How big of a property do you have? Definately Garden Tour worthy!!! You two make a great team. Thanks for sharing. I hope these photos are the first of MANY more~~~

  6. wGardens 11/21/2013

    Wonderful Gardens. The first photo is especially stunning! How big of a property do you have? Definately Garden Tour worthy!!! You two make a great team. Thanks for sharing. I hope these photos are the first of MANY more~~~

  7. user-783091 11/21/2013

    WOW! How do you keep such a large garden looking so nice?

  8. mainer59 11/21/2013

    The diversity of photos make it look like this is a very large garden. I agree with what everyone else has said. It is fabulous.

  9. tractor1 11/21/2013

    Great design, could be a public plant conservatory. Is that a "Fat Albert" Colorado blue spruce (3rd Down-L)? Bottom left could be dawn redwood, branching looks correct but the foliage what I can see of it doesn't look quite right... could also be some kind of cypress. More photos, please... thank you, Marybeth... at first glance I read your name as Cinderella... well, your garden is fairytale-like!

  10. User avater
    meander_michaele 11/21/2013

    Good lord, Marybeth and Mark, you two are responsible for my jaw dropping and hitting the keyboard as I scrolled from one super gorgeous picture to another. I won't hold a grudge, though, since I have enjoyed this first tour through your garden areas immensely. Those photos with the wisteria in bloom are achingly beautiful. I adore a sea of fern and yours in the second picture down is a green that Ostrich fern?
    Marybeth, you do stunning design work and your clients are very fortunate that you were inspired to change professions. You have a true gift.Are you and your husband a professional team or does he save his energy for landscaping just for your personal property?

  11. GardenersWK 11/21/2013

    Congratulations! Great design work Marybeth! I like how you created different garden spaces with different styles and feel! From the first more formal space with the splendid wisteria arch going around into less formal shade gardens! I love your waters feature! So well done! It looks very natural! We want more pictures please!

  12. flowerladydi 11/21/2013

    Marybeth,,,, it is absolutely Fabulous!!! I agree with so many,,, definitely Garden Tour worthy!!!! How large is your property?,, It does appear quite large! And yes, as Jeff asked,,, is that a Dawn Redwood?,, or maybe a bald cypress tree? Fabulous!!!,,, Love the callicarpa berries,,,, mine is in the back yard, and I so seldom see it,, they are beautiful!! Your wisteria is awesome!,, and the pergola looks amazing!! The waterfall area is also gorgeous!,, love the birch, Japanese maple,,, Beautiful job, both you and your husband!!!

  13. bee1nine 11/21/2013

    Yikes! Fabulous indeed!!

    The featured photo of the wisteria is quite a stunner! Would
    love to know how long you both have lived here? As everything seems to have a well matured feel.
    Marybeth and Mark, INCREDIBLE job!!

  14. Tea_garden_lover 11/21/2013

    Marybeth, You have definitely an affinity for what has been described as the Japanese appreciation for asymmetrical design which expresses the essence of nature. I am sure that caring for such a beautiful place brings you much joy as well as centering. That kind of garden does so much to counteract all the stress which seems to increase in these troubled times.

  15. Wife_Mother_Gardener 11/21/2013

    How lovely! You have created such nice structure with your plantings. What is planted under your redwood? It seems to be happy in that dry shade.

    Thanks for sharing!

  16. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 11/21/2013

    Wow. I need to come back and review again when I have more time. So great. The callicarpa photo is a perfect garden moment!

  17. Mciandella 11/21/2013

    Hi all. Thanks so much for the great comments! Our property is 3/4 acre. Sorry there are no plant labels on the pictures on left. I sent in this time the 5 fall pictures in the right row. The others were sent in at another time (Michelle must have found them).
    So yes, dawn Redwood with the offensive, invasive Houttunia underneath. I didn't know at the time of course!! Bought it in home depot in a flat--no warning label whatsoever!
    In other pictures... Fat Albert Spruce and opposite a dappled willow--Salix hakuro Nishiki that I pollard in late winter every year.
    Ostrich fern in the Wisteria photo.
    The Oxydendron tree could fit in anyone's garden. It is very slow growing. Purchased it small and at first a few branches died so it became even smaller! I have it 5 or 6 years and it is still the same height with a few more branches.

    Mark saves his energy for our property--the gardens and a demanding Victorian house. He did have some time to work with me this year and we did well together! Hopefully we will eventually work together.

    Maybe Fine gardening will come here some day to take pictures and put our garden in their wonderful magazine!:)

  18. Quiltingmamma 11/21/2013

    If I hadn't been told it was your private garden, I would have taken it as a professionally landscaped public garden. Your second career was the perfect choice for your skills...just lovely!. The curving lawns, separate rooms, creek along a pathway, all on 3/4 acres, good job. I love them all, but I have a soft spot for all things blooming wisteria. First shot is a stunner.

  19. greengenes 11/21/2013

    Good Morning for sure! Stunning and it sure woke me up! absolutely love it! Oh I wish I was young again! It has given me some ideas for areas in mine. The wisteria is so sweet in that setting. Thankyou, Thankyou for sharing it all with us! You certainly made a good career choice! Isnt it absolutely fun and fulfilling? I wouldn't do anything else! I don't even like coming in at evening time to make dinner. Sometimes I wish it would never get dark! Have a great day you all..

  20. wildthyme 11/21/2013

    Holy cow, MaryBeth! If you can do this with a garden, it would be worth a trip to New Jersey just to see if you could do something with my hair! I'm sorry you're retired! But it looks like you picked the perfect second career. What a gorgeous spot. You've made it look so lush and so much larger than its size, and mostly with greenery. Pure wizardry. Congratulations.

  21. sburgueno 11/21/2013

    Wow amazing! Takes my breath away and inspires me so. What are the trees on either side of your pergola? I can't seem to recognize them?

  22. GreenGrammy 11/21/2013

    Gorgeous! You have found your true calling, and brightened this gray day--thank you.

  23. User avater
    HelloFromMD 11/21/2013

    Hi Marybeth,

    I like the second photo with a stature and nice edging. Is that steel edging? How diffficult was it to install? I would like to edge my beds and am debating on the 'how-to'...Also admiring the gravel path set with flagstones next to the stream. Perfect counterpoint. Did you have water already or did you both build your stream? The American Callicarpa berries are quite large and striking. I have the Callicarpa bodinieri Profusion which is lovely too, but the berries are small. Could you please comment on the callicarpas?

  24. quinquek 11/21/2013

    This garden is simply drop dead gorgeous. Did you perhaps get a wee pinch of Samwise Gamgee's magic soil? And when is the next time you're just driving through central VA?

  25. celiahoneysuckle 11/21/2013

    Beautiful gardens, and yes a feature in Fine Gardening would be very rewarding. Did you both start with a blank palette, and was the stream already there and you embellished it or was it a lovely creation?

  26. PassinThru 11/21/2013

    A truly beautiful and inspiring garden, Marybeth. I also have a spot in my garden that is plagued by houttuynia (cursed be whoever introduced this horrid plant). And we have seven Dawn redwoods (my favorite tree) that we planted on our one-acre property as saplings. One of them is now about the size of yours. They are gorgeous no matter the season, and the bark is especially beautiful in the morning light.

    I'm going to keep a link to this particular page so that I can revisit it often. Thanks for sharing.

  27. GrannyMay 11/21/2013

    Absolutely wonderful Marybeth! Your perfect plant choices, garden design, Mark's structures, the stream and waterfall, the blue ball and callicarpa scene, the red brick pathway scene, and the stunning wisteria... I could go on and on, but others have already said it. Thank you!

  28. annek 11/21/2013


  29. Mciandella 11/21/2013

    To answer some of your questions...
    No not metal edging!! Just Marks edging skill there. He cuts the beds with a sharpened, straight edge shovel and uses the weed-wacker on an angle. I have never tried that metal edging before--I would imagine you would still need to use the weed-wacker technique after mowing to get such a crisp look.
    I also have the Callicarpa bodinieri in addition to the C. americana shown. When I want height I use the americana. I coppice the bodinieri in the spring(for better berry display) and have tried that technique on the americana but it actually beries BETTER without the cutting down. As pictured here it was not cut down in spring.
    The trees on either side of the pergola are a favorite Viburnum, berries pictured close up here.(read about it in the caption) and a Southern Magnolia "Brackens Brown Beauty" on the right. Sorry that picture is not so clear.
    To wildthyme--I can cut your hair! come on up!

  30. sheila_schultz 11/21/2013

    Your artistry obviously knows no bounds Marybeth. Your clients are very, very lucky. Your designs and photography are perfection.

  31. wittyone 11/21/2013

    WOW! It's all been said already. Just gorgeous.

  32. HortTherapyLady 11/21/2013

    Wonderful garden Marybeth! I wish I was closer to NJ to experience your garden! The photos are wonderful, but I would love to be able to get the 'full effect', as I am sure that is why you designed and installed it to begin with!
    You are also blessed to have a husband so willing to be of service. I get help when needed with some of my garden projects, but my husband just doesn't get it! I am so grateful for my outdoor living space, it has been a life and 'mind' saver in years past, and it was what led me to work with many different populations using gardening as such a versatile mode of therapy! I am sure you get a wonderful sense of satisfaction in being able to enjoy, experience, and continually evolve the look and feel of your garden. It is very evident in your handiwork!
    I have several varieties of Viburnums, I tend to go nuts with a genus for a season or two, and then go on to something new! Viburnums were my passion several years ago and then I went on a hydrangea kick! Anyway, I do believe your 'Willowwood' blessed you with berries because you didn't trim it this past season. It is possible that the past trimmings had something to do with it not producing any berries. Viburnums are great because so many cultivars offer year round interest, and are a great food source as well. I also enjoy Fothergilla and Itea in my garden, but I have neglected my Itea for several seasons and have quite a 'thicket' that has to be thinned out! It is trying to take over a Mahonia and one of my V. pragense!
    I look forward to more photos of your 'Work in Progress'! I don't think a true gardeners 'garden' is ever finished! Happy Gardening!
    Horticultural Therapy Rules!

  33. janeeliz 11/21/2013

    You and your husband have done a fantastic job creating this wonderful garden! I love it all… wisteria, trees, shrubs, berries…awesome combinations -and so well tended!

  34. hortiphila 11/22/2013


  35. cwheat000 11/23/2013

    Marybeth, sorry I missed your beautiful garden on it's posting day. I am so glad I got to see it. It is simply stunning. You've got talent to spare. I hope we get to see more of your work in the future.

  36. thomas44 06/21/2022

    Great job, I like these photos! You are a good designer. We are colleagues, only I am a web designer but I want to change jobs and get a job as a landscape designer, I love nature. I found a company that will help me with employment, this is ,they can write a resume and describe my skills, increase the chances of finding what I want

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