Garden Photo of the Day

Summer in Jay’s Garden

Blooms at the peak of the season

hydrangea in front of ornamental grasses

Jay Sifford is a regular GPOD contributor. We’ve visited his garden in Charlotte, North Carolina (Jay’s Garden in North Carolina, Revisited), and today we’re in his other garden, up in the mountains of western North Carolina.

Even though it’s dry up here in the western North Carolina mountains right now, the garden doesn’t seem to mind. The pollinators are happy too. I took these updated photos of my septic drain field turned stylized meadow garden, featuring midsummer color.

pink flowers in front of purple flowersEchinacea purpurea ‘Magnus Superior’ (Zones 4–9) and Liatris spicata (Zones 3–8) bring similar colors but very different shapes and textures to the garden.

orange coneflower in front of ninebark‘Tiki Torch’ echinacea (Echinacea hybrid, Zones 5–9) is new to me. Here it shines in front of ‘Panther’ ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius, Zones 2–8) and ‘Blue Dune’ lyme grass (Leymus arenarius ‘Blue Dune’, Zones 4–8).

hydrangea in front of ornamental grassesHere’s an example of layering, with Hydrangea paniculata ‘Phantom’ (Zones 3–8), ‘Karley Rose’ pennisetum (Pennisetum orientale ‘Karley Rose’, Zones 5–8), Liatris spicata, ‘Blue Dune’ lyme grass, ‘Bonnie Blue’ and ‘The Limey’ spruces (Picea pungens, Zones 2–7), and Calamagrostis acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’ (Zones 5–9).

white panicle hydrangeaCloseup of Hydrangea paniculata ‘Phantom’. I’ve become bolder in my spring paniculata pruning. I’ve been cutting them to within 10 inches of the ground, rather like a hard prune on a rose bush. The result is large flowers on very straight, strong stems.

purple and yellow flowersThe color progression in this garden is better than I’d imagined. Here, ‘American Gold Rush’ rudbeckia (Rudbeckia ‘American Gold Rush’, Zones 3–9) is beginning to bloom. This variety is supposed to be fungus resistant. So far, so good. It’s year number 2 with it in the garden.

ornamental grass with full garden behindCalamagrostis acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’ provides a sensual scrim in the garden.

mountain garden with lots of conifers in summerWide view of the front garden in very late July

mountain mint in front of gardenPycnanthem muticum (mountain mint, Zones 4–8) is aggressive when happy, but it’s a real pollinator attractor. Its root system is great for holding soil on a slope.


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View Comments


  1. garden1953 08/20/2021

    Gorgeous gardens! The colors and textures are wonderful!

  2. imajayhawk 08/20/2021

    Good morning, Jay. So nice to see your new garden progressing so well. I love H. paniculata 'Phantom' and have been growing one for about 8 years. I cut mine at about 3 feet and let it grow to 8 feet tall to create height in my pollinator garden. This cultivar has very strong stems and holds the large panicles well. I love the front garden as it is filling in. The meeting area is spectacular. Great job.

    1. Jay_Sifford 08/20/2021

      Thanks. I could have planted 'Bobo', but I love the larger inflorescences and lacy effort of 'Phantom', so I just cut it down.

  3. margotnavarre 08/20/2021

    There is so much excitement taking place in your garden. I enjoy seeing your design and how it fits the space and blends in with nature. A lovely garden for everyone. Thanks for the lovely pictures .

  4. User avater
    meander_michaele 08/20/2021

    It absolutely boggles my mind that your planted areas at Rhodwood are only a couple of years old. They look like they so well established and have all of the eye pleasing components found in the drool worthy meadow gardens of any of the highly esteemed public gardens. What you have achieved is truly inspiring.

    1. Jay_Sifford 08/20/2021

      Thanks so much. It is truly exceeding my expectations, with very few exceptions.

  5. User avater
    treasuresmom 08/20/2021

    Jay, did you plant ‘Tiki Torch’ this year?

    1. Jay_Sifford 08/20/2021

      Yes I did. We'll see how it performs over the next several years.

  6. User avater
    user-7007816 08/20/2021

    Jay, Your garden is stunning. It has the appearance and feel that I am working to develop. Great Job!

    1. Jay_Sifford 08/20/2021

      Thanks. Happy gardening to you!

  7. cheryl_c 08/20/2021

    Jay, you've really done a beautiful job with these gardens. I love your combination of colors and textures, and am sure the pollinators will enjoy them as well. Hope the heavy rains last week missed you, or at least did no damage. Thanks so much for sharing.

    1. Jay_Sifford 08/20/2021

      Thanks Cheryl. We received about 6" here, but it was spaced out perfectly. We avoided the floods that hit Asheville up to Avery County, even Watauga County.

  8. User avater
    simplesue 08/20/2021

    It's amazing to see how gorgeous your massive plantings are in a big open area.
    It all looks manicured and yet natural at the same time.
    Great garden design!

  9. sheila_schultz 08/20/2021

    The texture, size, shape and color of every single plant in your gardens play an important role in the overall visual, Jay. Comfort for all the senses. All of this beauty in only 2 years is unbelievable.

  10. btucker9675 08/20/2021

    Beautifimous!!!! Like a lovely botanical quilt!

  11. blondie3 08/21/2021

    I love your garden, remember seeing it the last time, I love the mass planting…Love NC…I’m sure that area can grow a fabulous garden…not so far from Biltmore. Thank you for sharing.Beautiful!

  12. Mashabear21 08/26/2021

    Isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? | Scranton Deck and Fence

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