Garden Photo of the Day

Perennial Gardens at Historic Smoke Rise

By: Kim Charles

Maria Clemente and Paul Laganella spend much of their spare time working and relaxing in the beautiful gardens they have created at historic Smoke Rise, in northern New Jersey.

"As our first year in our new home is coming to a close, we look back on all of the changes we have made to the gardens and the surprises we received along the way. Spring brought us a flurry of rhododendron, mountain laurel, and dogwoods as well as the great splashes of purple from the iris garden just outside our bedroom and the sea of ajuga facing our porch. Summer continued to bring bursts of great foliage and color as well as an abundance of wildlife including the black bear, bats, butterflies, and bees. Now that fall is here; we are anticipating even more natural beauty as the leaves begin to turn to warmer hues.

Our home was one of the first custom built homes back in the 1940's in historical Smoke Rise in northern New Jersey. We fell in love with it the first moment we saw it and knew that its southern exposure would lend itself to ideal gardening potential.  Many of the perennials we planted are cuttings of plants from our previous home. The bee balm, which is one of our favorites, was originally a small cutting from the gardens of the Adirondack cottages we vacation at every year. On the north side of the house, we decided to use pale hues of purples, pinks, and whites with grey-green foliage accents to compliment the grey tones of the slate roof and patios. For the south side of the house, we chose a palette of more vibrant pinks and reds with splashes of yellows."

Attention GPOD'ers–Let's keep the Garden Photo of the Day blooming year round! We would love to see your captivating combinations, your favorite new plant choices or how your garden is looking in the midst of the fall season. Keep the submissions coming. We all thank you for sharing! See details below.

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  1. mariannaquartararo 10/13/2017

    Nice gardens! I have a question; having cared for a homes gardens years ago in Smoke Rise I know deer were a big problem within the community. Is your property fenced? If not, how do you keep the deer from eating everything. At the gardens I cared for it was an on going battle. They ate everything including digitalis, ferns, etc. Only thing they did not eat were the ornamental grasses. Sprays were effective at a very high concentration. The homeowners eventually did fence the yard.

  2. user-6881358 10/13/2017

    Pretty!! Thanks for sharing.

  3. user-7007498 10/13/2017

    Good morning, Maria and Paul. I was looking at photos of Smoke Rise and the area looks beautiful. It looks like you moved into a great location. It sounds like you have had fun exploring your new gardens and bringing a bit of the old with you. Thanks for sharing your photos and your story. Would love to see an overview picture of the house and how it relates to the garden.

    Have a great weekend, fellow GPODers. We have had a cloudy and rainy week in PA (about 3.5 inches of slow steady rain). Looks like more for the weekend (I was hoping for some sun). Oh, well.

    1. frankgreenhalgh 10/13/2017

      Hey Kev. - Pity that some of the rain didn't fall in the areas affected by those devastating wildfires in CA. Some of our guys experienced at fighting bushfires here are coming over on the week-end to relieve some of your tired firefighters. Cheers, Frank

      1. user-4691082 10/13/2017

        God bless the Aussies!

      2. User avater
        LindaonWhidbey 10/13/2017

        OZ to the rescue. Our daughter and husband were in Santa Rosa last week for a bike race and are so saddened by the devastation and loss of life.

        1. frankgreenhalgh 10/14/2017

          Lucky they got out in time, LInda. A bit scary! Terrible situation with so many lives lost and houses and property burnt. We had our worst bushfire in 2009 - lost 173 people in the tragedy. Our hearts go out to the folks in CA.

          1. grannieannie1 10/14/2017

            Thank you and your country, Frank, for sharing your bush firefighters with California!

    2. User avater
      LindaonWhidbey 10/13/2017

      Kevin, we’re having a good rain today, almost the first since June and we’re doing our happy dance.

  4. tennisluv 10/13/2017

    Good morning Maria & Paul. It does indeed look like you have found the perfect home and garden to which you have added your own personal touches of color with annuals and perennials. Kevin piqued my curiosity with his comments, so I too researched the Smoke Rise community. What a truly lovely contained and wooded community in which to live. I would also like to see more of your garden and home. Thanks for sharing your personal Eden with us this morning.

  5. User avater
    meander_michaele 10/13/2017

    Hi, Maria and Paul, from the peeks of your house that showed in the photos. it looks like it provides a wonderful backdrop for beautiful gardens. No wonder both of you are so motivated and inspired. I love the shooting spikes of indigo blue that contrast so delightfully with the white coneflowers...very striking. What is the dark leafed plant that is in picture#1 and 4?...I feel like I know it but I'm pulling a blank.

    1. tennisluv 10/13/2017

      I thought it was hibiscus 'midnight marvel' but am probably way off base. Pretty plant, isn't it?

      1. User avater
        meander_michaele 10/14/2017

        You seem to be in good company in thinking it is a hibiscus...from some of the later comments. Heck, Tim agrees with you so that makes your identification practically a sure thing!

  6. frankgreenhalgh 10/13/2017

    Hi Maria and Paul - Nice story and well planned and executed garden with such wonderful colour combinations. Love the setting in pic.4. Cheers from Oz

  7. Sunshine111 10/13/2017

    I am loving the pennesetum and echinacea combo. Thanks for sharing your lovely yard and your new home. Show us a picture of the house please!

  8. User avater
    DawnMT 10/13/2017

    You have a very nice sanctuary for both you and the pollinators. Beautiful.

  9. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 10/13/2017

    looks great, with a great backdrop of trees. I love the dark-leaved hibiscus.

  10. hontell 10/13/2017

    Greetings from Butler, NJ, beautiful garden, I love all the natural areas they left in Smoke Rise. Saw 4 deer across the street from my house last night, they act like pets here. I have a fenced yard so they eat at the neighbors!

  11. JoannaAtGinghamGardens 10/13/2017

    What a beautiful garden! I would like to see more of it. Thank you for sharing!

  12. thevioletfern 10/13/2017

    More, more, more! You're such a tease. What a beautiful home, garden, place to live.

  13. user-4691082 10/13/2017

    Good morning, Maria and Paul. What a beautiful home and gardens. How do you keep your hibiscus leaves from being eaten? Please send more photos!

  14. Doxnmomx2 10/13/2017

    I'm in awe! Such a marvel of color and texture! Yes, we need more!

  15. btucker9675 10/13/2017

    Great anti-deer concoction I read about several years ago (may have even been in Fine Gardening magazine) and used to very good effect in my previous garden in Franklin Lakes, NJ: 1 part milk (any kind, bad, good, skim, buttermilk, etc., doesn't matter), 2 parts (or slightly more) water. I also added several drops of peppermint oil (not the kind you use for cooking, use the essential oil). Sprayed once a week - can go directly on plants without harm and the effects would last for about a week unless there was a heavy rain. We had a big deer problem there and this solution was a garden saver. I kept it in a big pump sprayer since my garden was about an acre in size.

    This garden is gorgeous!

  16. OneKSGardner 10/13/2017

    Love the garden and the stone on the house!! So pretty. What variety is the hibiscus? It looks shorter than any I have had.

  17. user-7008421 10/13/2017

    Beautiful gardens! Love the mix of colors and textures.

  18. User avater
    treasuresmom 10/13/2017


  19. User avater
    LindaonWhidbey 10/13/2017

    Good morning, Maria and Paul. Your house and garden are beautiful. Like others here, I’m also curious about the deer issue. Looking at the flowers on your hibiscus ( love the dark leaves) I’m guessing that you are deer fenced since ours were eaten despite being sprayed. Is your hydrangea ‘Golden Crane’ by chance? Thanks for sharing.

  20. Maggieat11 10/13/2017

    Oh, so very lovely! Great photos and I am especially fond of the second one!!! I, too, would love to see more photos, including your house. It is a wonderful backdrop for your beautiful plantings!

  21. Cenepk10 10/14/2017

    Where's the house ? I need the see the bigger picture. Very lovely plantings !

  22. user-7008735 10/14/2017

    Very pretty! It looks like the gardens suit the classic style of the house though I can only get a little peek at the house. The mature trees make a great setting for it all.

  23. deborahboeni 10/14/2017

    I'm the proud recipient of Maria and Paul's cuttings. They sent me back to Suffern with Bee Balm, Echinacea, Cotoneaster and Yarrow. I'll post a spring picture.

  24. user-6536305 10/17/2017

    Maria and Paul, you have such a beautiful garden! Thanks for sharing your hard work and garden with us!

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