Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Garden State--It's Not What You Think

I have lived on both sides of this continent as well as on a completely different one. I have lived in New York and Los Angeles. There are still other places I dream of living--Italy for one. The fact is that most of my life has been spent in the most maligned state in the union.

When you tell people you live in New Jersey the conversation changes course. I have never gotten and 'Oh, I've always wanted to live there' or 'Wow, that's so cool.' Most people think of New Jersey as the state sandwiched in between New York and Philadelphia--a place so uninteresting that their best course of action is to get on the NJ Turnpike and travel just as fast as they can through it.

New Jersey is probably not what you think it is. It's diverse, historic and yes overcrowded in many areas. There is beauty to be had in its cities as well as in its countryside. It is a place in danger of becoming so altered by urban sprawl that it will never be able to find its way back. I am thankful for the Farmland Preservation Program or much of our open land would become more subdivisions of houses too big for their lots. I wish some of our cities would enact historic architecture preservation laws--a small 19th century farmhouse and barn just down the street from me was knocked down and a generic faux stone clad beast went up in its place.

As a landscape designer, I drive over a significant part of the state searching for plants and materials, meeting clients and just going places. I have resolved to remember to put my camera in my bag and over the next few months I'm going to share images from my summer journeys through the state that seems to draw me back.


Barbara said...


I, too, am a native of the Garden State. Though I live in Southern California and, like you have lived in other places, I have an appreciation of the diversity of landscape and quiet beauty of New Jersey. Too bad that most, as you say, see the State only from the window of their car, missing the Pine Barrens in the south or the rural beauty in the northwestern part of the state.

I'm enjoying your blog.

Barbara (

Susan aka Miss. R said...

Thank you Barbara.

chloe said...

I too am a landscape designer in New Jersey (Mount Holly), when I moved here 10 years ago from Maryland... I got condolences. When a friend came here from Chicago, she flew into Newark and driving on the Turnpike, she exclaimed, "why do they call this the garden state?." That evoked a ride to the countryside and the shore. It is beautiful here... and though I will always miss Maryland, we are "sandwiched" into quite a great day trip to where lots of interesting places. I can also relate to wanting to ESCAPE during the season.... Love your blog!
Chloewest (twitter)