“Someone once said that’‘gardening is straddling creativity and labor,’ ” says Janet Mavec of Janet Mavec Jewelry. “I think that’s so accurate. I love the juxtaposition of those two things.”
For more than 25 years, Janet and her husband Wayne Nordberg have been doing just that, digging and planting to coax a magical garden into being at Bird Haven Farm in western New Jersey. Set among rolling hills and woodlands, the 100-acre farm is a bucolic dream, replete with a picturesque old barn, spring-fed pond, century-old orchard, and a stone house (once the home of Harriet Stratemeyer Adams, the author of the beloved Nancy Drew mysteries).
In 2002 the couple worked with the great Spanish landscape designer Fernando Caruncho to design the garden’s master plan, including an elegant courtyard with a reflecting pool that is central to many of the couple’s social gatherings. Garden designer Lisa Stamm created the monastery garden, prolific vegetable garden, and perennial border, where Mavec spends much of her time plotting and planting. “Every year, I change up what’s in each bed, add compost, and rotate flowers and vegetable crops,” she says.
“When we originally put the garden in, it was all about editing,” recalls Mavec. “Now years later, there’s still editing, but we focus more on maintaining things in a healthy way.” Inspired after attending a lecture on gardening for birds, she recently added a border of berries and native shrubs such as bottlebrush buckeye and clethra. “I feel like I can tell what kind of winter it’s going to be by how quickly the berries get eaten,” she says.
These days Mavec is a little more laissez-faire in the garden than in the early days, preferring to spend time on things like color combinations, rather than cajole a fussy plant into bloom. “If it doesn’t come back, we don’t need it,” she says. “I like to garden with colors I would never wear, or even have in my house,” she says with a laugh. “I don’t want my sofa to be barbie pink, for example, but I planted poppies in that color and I love them.” Her palette runs the gamut—from seductive mauvy irises to bright orange marigolds. “I’m not a plant snob,” she says, “I look forward to planting pansies every spring.” Mavec also holds a party every year to celebrate her exuberant festive marigolds, one of the first plants she grew as a young child. “I adore color and love that you can have so much of it in the garden.” She takes us on a tour.
Photography by Janet Mavec.
- Required Reading: The View From Federal Twist
- Garden Visit: Greenwood Gardens in Short Hills, NJ
- Garden Visit: At Home with Silas Mountsier in New Jersey
Frequently asked questions
Who is Janet Mavec?
Janet Mavec is a jewelry designer.
What is Bird Haven Farm?
Bird Haven Farm is the name of Janet Mavec's garden.
Where is Bird Haven Farm located?
Bird Haven Farm is located in New Jersey, USA.
Can visitors go to Bird Haven Farm?
Yes, visitors can go to Bird Haven Farm by appointment only.
Do visitors need to pay to visit Bird Haven Farm?
Yes, visitors need to pay a small fee to visit Bird Haven Farm.
How can visitors schedule an appointment?
Visitors can schedule an appointment by contacting Janet Mavec's team through their website.
What can visitors expect to see at Bird Haven Farm?
Visitors can expect to see beautiful gardens, various species of birds, and artwork.
Is Bird Haven Farm accessible for people with disabilities?
Unfortunately, Bird Haven Farm is not fully accessible for people with disabilities.
Are pets allowed at Bird Haven Farm?
No, pets are not allowed at Bird Haven Farm.
Is there parking available at Bird Haven Farm?
Yes, there is parking available for visitors at Bird Haven Farm.