Garden Photo of the Day

READER PHOTOS! Jay’s garden in North Carolina, Day 2

My lawnless front garden in April.
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Jay Sifford

Continuing on from yesterday, today we’re touring a couple of other areas in Jay Sifford’s garden in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Jay says, “For the front garden, I removed all of the turf two years ago. It wasn’t doing well anyway, so I chose to use my creativity to do something ‘outside the box’.

Front garden.
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Jay Sifford

“I terraced the gravel pathway with a series of railroad ties, since they spoke to the rustic nature of the house. I brought the beds in closer. Since my beds are rather naturalistic, I chose to make the gravel pathway fairly wide to create a sense of order and space.

Front garden.
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Jay Sifford

“The beds are filled with perennials. The only annual I use here is coleus. I root a hundred or so cuttings of different cultivars in my greenhouse under the orchid benches every winter.”

Perennial bed alongside the driveway.
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Jay Sifford

Jay, these areas of the garden look so different from yesterday’s woodland garden. It’s all just great. Thanks so much for sharing your garden with us. **On Monday, we’ll get a glimpse of what Jay creates for his clients–very interesting!

My favorite flowering perennial, Verbena bonariensis, contrasted with orange daylilies.
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Jay Sifford
Coleus in the front garden.
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Jay Sifford
Front garden looking up towards the street in late summer.
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Jay Sifford
Front garden after the coleus have grown in a bit. I love using sculpture and oversized pottery, rarely filled with plants, in my garden designs.
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Jay Sifford
The entrance to my front garden. It’s a free-for-all. I love the contrasting colors, shapes, sizes and textures. It makes me very happy.
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Jay Sifford
Red bench at the top of the water garden. All my favorite hostas are planted here. I built the three panel privacy screen out of concrete backerboard that is generally used underneath floor tile. I love the color, texture and striations. The attached artwork is some that I bought on a weekend trip to Asheville.
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Jay Sifford
Upper garden.
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Evelyn J. Hadden
I built this blue atlas cedar “fence” early this year. This is the back side of it, looking from my neighbor’s yard. The foliage color is a perfect back drop for any color of flower or foliage. I can’t wait to see it in 4 or 5 years when it’s really grown in.
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Jay Sifford

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View Comments


  1. User avater
    meander_michaele 07/06/2012

    What about Christmas in July...clicking on a picture was like opening a wonderful present! I love the vibrancy of the red bench (note to self, for once and for all, get over my fear of bold colors in garden accent pieces). The blue atlas cedar "fence" is already intriguing and will be a heart stopper (ha, not literally...that would be self defeating) in a few years.
    Jay, your garden is a treasure trove of inspiration and great ideas!

  2. Jay_Sifford 07/06/2012

    meander1, thank you. Bold color or form in garden pieces can be very special.... don't be afraid. I would be totally happy with a flowerless garden. Sometimes removing the optical stimulation of flowers allows folks to notice what's really special.... leaf shape, texture, shades, etc. Then, adding some color through a bench of a special piece of appropriated scaled artwork is the icing on the cake.
    With regard to the blue atlas cedar... every color of flower looks great against that icy blue-gray. It's the perfect backdrop.
    Have a great day!

  3. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 07/06/2012

    Awesome. How enormous is your front yard? And the garden is only two years old? I also think the cedar fence is just genius. Really great and so much better than turf! Coleus have really come into their own these days. What a great annual that can easily be overwintered indoors.

  4. hobbit1 07/06/2012

    How very beautiful, peaceful, soothing etc. etc. Love it all, great garden I can tell you truly love gardening.

  5. ceres 07/06/2012

    Jay, what is the conifer behind the coleus? Love your cedar fence!

  6. GardenerGM 07/06/2012

    So beautiful! And I'm envious of your aliums!

  7. tractor1 07/06/2012

    Jay has so many wonderful plantings, I only wish his photography was better/sharper. I love all those rare trees, and how they're arranged, but I can't see them clearly. However I can see a tremendous effort in creation and maintenence. The only element I don't like is the gravel, I think it's a quick low cost cop out... I'd rather see flagstone/pavers. And gravel always migrates so becomes messy and very difficult to eliminate... I think loose gravel in gardens should be illegal, but is very attractive embedded in concrete and broomed just enough to expose its texture, maybe he'll take the hint. Blue Atlas Cedar is one of my most coveted trees, if not for the deer I'd have several. Jay's professional landscaping ability is certainly evident, I'm looking forward to seeing his other creations. For ceres, I believe that conifer among the coleus is another Blue Atlas Cedar. I'd not plant anything with height in front of the espaliered one lest the shade kills off it's foliage. Okay, I've had a taste, I need more.

  8. wwross 07/06/2012

    The cedar fence is intriguing and a great idea. I wonder if there are other evergreens that could be used for that.

  9. sheila_schultz 07/06/2012

    Your gardens are truly beautiful, Jay. The water and moss yesterday made me want to touch everything, and the path today with the blue atlas cedar and the dramatic pops of color is nothing less than brilliant. Thanks...

  10. Jay_Sifford 07/06/2012

    Interesting comments, tractor1, thank you. As for the pea gravel, I've never had an issue with it washing away, even in downpours. The pathway slopes to one side, and on that side I have a french drain, with another one at the bottom which seems to handle runoff. I love the gravel because, in my mind, it gives more of an informal, earthy woodland feel. What I love most about it is the way it crunches under my feet. That sound the feeling adds another layer of depth, at least in my opinion. I will admit, however, that my next project is going to be a freeform flagstone patio at the bottom of the front garden. The reason I'm doing this is because there are some huge granite boulders there and I want to make them look like they are rising up out of the patio. I also plan to make some seating cubes covered in the concrete backerboard, as the color will be the same as the granite boulders. They will be a modern take, a ying/yang thing of sorts, off of the boulders. I think the contrast will be pretty interesting.
    Yes, the other tree is a standard form of blue atlas cedar. It will get really big.... I fought with myself about putting that tree in, but it will be an open form and it makes me very happy, at least now it does!
    Sorry about my photography. I'm definitely an amateur in that department. Plus, the shifting sun/shade in my garden proves to make it even more difficult.
    Have a great weekend!

  11. olympic_mtn_gardener 07/06/2012

    I love the naturalistic nature of your beds, and your creative use of leaf shape, color, texture, and shades to create a remarkable garden that is not dependent on flowers for beauty. I admire what you have achieved with your gardens, and will refer back to your photos frequently for inspiration. Thanks again for the information you provided yesterday—a local nursery owner who is on a buying trip today is looking for a Farfugium japonicum 'Giganteum' for me!

  12. user-1099470 07/06/2012

    Your garden is absolutely beautiful!! I was especially amazed with your privacy screen and red bench. Would you ever consider writing a do-it-yourself article on how to make one? I don't think I could make one so tall, but the concept is so creative.

  13. Jay_Sifford 07/06/2012

    Olympic mtn gardener, you will love your farfugium. Be sure and post photos of it when you really get it going. I'm assuming you live in the Pacific NW? If so, if you don't have some already, you should try to ligularia dentata cultivars. They are wonderful and I think should do very well there.
    uswer-1099470, thanks for the comment. I'm glad you're in love with my privacy screen like I am. I made it tall to hide the side of my neighbor's garage, where his trash cans are conveniently (for me) stacked. I was originally going to paint each one of the three a different shade, kind of mustardy and aubergine colors, but decided that I loved the striations of the raw backerboard much better. The red bench likes it much better too! If the opportunity ever arises, I'd be happy to show how I made it.

  14. skevanston 07/08/2012

    I agree with many of the positive comments about this garden space, but the point that I think makes this space so special was made by the designer himself...that the wide, inviting pathway is the essential counterpoint to the informal fullness of the is the human element that makes us feel so welcome in this space. And it is practical too, since it allows (and invites) people to walk through the space even when plants gracefully tumble over the edges on to the path. I also love the way the path is softened by rocks partially buried so that look like they were unearthed in the building of the path. A beautiful lesson for all of us. Thanks so much for sharing it with us.

  15. LAgardener 07/09/2012

    This is a beautiful garden, speaks of its place, and despite (or because of?) its bounteous plantings, appears not to be a maintenance nightmare. As for the pea gravel, it is the first thing that struck me. Both texture and color make it perfect for the lush borders. No sharp lines. How relaxing it must be to walk into it each day.

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