Disneyland Without The Mouse



Just another alley full of cool plants at Rohsler’s.

Of course, I do wonder who’s buying some of this stuff, given how little gardening actually goes on in this part of the world. Vegetables?  Hardly ever seen one growing in the Garden State.  Even perennials are super-scarce in the land of the unchanging evergreen. But never mind. As long as the nursery is willing to offer everything, I’m willing to appreciate it all.

My own purchases last weekend were rather modest. Rohsler’s had a fantastic, towering 8-foot tall iron obelisk on display. My mother had a $10-dollar off coupon. To fit it in my vehicle, I made the dog sit in my daughter’s lap for the ride home. I also bought a giant papyrus for my goldfish pond.

Why do I love Rohsler’s so much?  My husband would say that it’s because you can take the girl out of Jersey, but you can’t take the Jersey out of the girl. In fact, he often surveys my own, rather restrained garden, with its preference for enormous flowers of tomato red and vibrating purple, and laughs. "Everything you do is so Jersey." he says.

Then I glare and refuse to speak to him for the next quarter hour at least. 


  1. Michele, this was hilarious. My mom lives in Bergen County and I can see your point. However, she is always complaining that she can’t find a good nursery, so now I know where to take her! Thank you.

  2. I grew up in Bergen County and can confirm the accuracy of this post.

    My Dad recently moved out to Portland and his Bergen County trained eyes had this report regarding Oregon gardens: “They sure let things GROW here”.

  3. Hi Michele,
    This post cracks me up. I grew up in Bergen County and remember the tidy lawns. But NJ has no corner on the market, there are plenty of these in Oregon, even in Portland where my daughter lives. A friend pointed me to your blog and now it will be part of my favorites.

  4. I hail from the Great Lakes: land of gazing balls and bathtub Marys, where shrubs are round or square and you decorate the yard for the start of baseball season.

  5. Finally some broads who love America and hate Europe! This garden design is quite like Italian
    formal gardens. And there are a lot of Italians in New Jersey. So when you criticize the design you criticize a legitimate garden style adapted to a town houe environment.
    I hope Tony Soprano does not read
    this post

  6. Sadly, your blog is true. 🙁 Being a Jersey guy through and through it hurts to swallow the truth sometimes. Despite the cookiecutterness of Bergen, other parts of the state like Hunterdon County where I grew up have some really stunning gardens and creativity beyond blueprint landscaping.

  7. I think it’s not so much Jersey as it is a certain suburban aesthetic–one I see often in Western New York. It is not shared by all suburban gardeners by any means.

    Though, Michele, I would not put up with any comments like the one you quoted. Could he do any better? One thinks not.

  8. For me, the issue is not about aesthetics.

    Here in wet England, we have perfect pastureland. As our forbears’ opinions were formed, there were fields of grass all around us and great landscapers created parks full of trees and lush sward. I think that this is when we became imprinted with the idea that gardens need lawns. Lawns grew so easily and cheaply and had been created for the wealthy. I want one!

    As the British Empire spread, the colonialists took with them the mental pictures of their native land and tried to create it wherever they were and no matter how inappropriate it was. Lawns were synonymous with the mother country. The establishment of a lush green sward in places where it was clearly incongruous became a huge status symbol.

    And that was how the myth began, that a garden must have a lawn. And, not any kind of lawn, but a perfect lawn, where the blades of grass are all the same height, colour and shape.

    It’s a right old load of rubbish in my opinion!

    Grass should only grow where it grows naturally. If it needs inputs of energy, fertilisers, weedkillers and water it is not a lawn –it is a huge, flat, boring great green weed. A weed is a plant that is growing in the wrong place.

    Monoculture or diversity? I vote for diversity every time. I like buttercups, daisies and clover. Our industrial farmers have decimated wildlife in their drive for uniform crops. Monoculture has no place in a garden.

    Wildlife is not helped by the use of pesticides and herbicides. The food chain is poisoned and the consequence is silence when we should hear the song of the song thrush. Do they still sell wormkiller?

    And these lush lawns produce a mountain of clippings. Some are toxic following applications of weedkillers and so can’t even be incorporated in the compost or used as a mulch. When they are not poisonous, many people give no thought to how they should use this waste they have created. The clippings go into the dustbin.

    And then we get onto the whole business of reducing inputs and the carbon footprint of our gardens. Powered mowers have a carbon footprint that is unnecessary. Fertilisers and weedkillers have a carbon footprint that is unnecessary.

    And water! A scarce commodity in most parts of the world. Where it isn’t as scarce, great dams and water cleaning and filtration systems are needed. To produce water that is then wasted on a lawn. In Perth, in desiccated Australia, they pump water from the underground aquifers to water the lawns.

    So come on, let’s go green and get rid of the lawn.

  9. LOL, we make fun of “those people” here too.Next time you visit, you might want to leave Bergen County and see some of what’s still growing in New Jersey. 😉

Comments are closed.