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My Beautiful May Garden

What makes a beautiful garden?Color, certainly. Healthy plants. Proportion and balance. Variety. Movement and flow, repetition. Fragrance. All those things, but much more. A beautiful garden can be humble or grand. It is highly personal. For me: a peaceful atmosphere, comfort, birdsong, memories, a little whimsy.

May is a beautiful month! I want to be outside every day, tending my garden. I love Confederate jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides), which is in full bloom on the arch by the patio. The intoxicating fragrance is a delight whenever I walk under it. I can also catch a whiff of rosemary. Nearby, pink 'Anthony Waterer' Spirea is blooming.

Coral drift roses line one edge of the patio, along with bacopa and a silvery artemesia:

On the patio table is a ceramic green rabbit, a souvenir I brought home from Hills and Dales Estate in LaGrange, Georgia, a very grand and gorgeous garden!

Here are more images of some of the flowers in my May garden:1st row: 'Penelope' rose; 'Anthony Waterer' spirea; Lichnis coronaria, commonly called rose campion. 2nd row: Yarrow; Calibrachoa; 'Snowflake' Hydrangea. 3rd row: Rosa palustris, also called swamp rose; Coral honeysuckle; Gardenia Jasminoides 'Kleims Hardy', a dwarf gardenia bush.

As much as I love flowers, I am also drawn toward colorful foliage. I purchased a variegated geranium without even knowing what color the blooms were; the leaves are spectacular! It has started blooming now, and the orange blooms complement its foliage perfectly. Near the steps leading from the patio to the arbor garden are two 'Francis Williams' Hostas, Japanese painted fern, and an interesting plant with variegated arrow-shaped leaves, 'Red Dragon' Persicaria. I have placed an unlikely companion next to one of the the hostas: a red poinsettia, left over from Christmas and still looking good! 

Clockwise from top left: 'Francis Williams' Hosta with poinsettia in background and a neighboring branch belonging to Edgeworthia chrysantha; A variegated geranium; 'Red Dragon' Persicaria and 'Francis Williams' hosta; 'Red Dragon' Persicaria and Japanese painted fern.

I have featured 'Tropicana' Canna lily a number of times over the years. Its bold colors hold up well to the hot sun that bathes the front of our house in summer:

The stone steps leading down to the much shadier woodland garden are located across from the front parking area. One of my favorite views of the woodland garden (shown many times on this blog!) is seen from the bottom of the steps. Moss paths tie different parts of the woodland garden together and give it a peaceful, quiet atmosphere:

The white birdhouse in this photo was home to a family of bluebirds, recently fledged:

I put this little woodland sitting area in last year. It is near an area featuring ferns and native azaleas. Moss and ground covers will soon carpet the ground around the chairs. That is an old iron magazine rack holding small potted begonias. The blue flowers are Tourenia fournier, also called wishbone flower. It is my newly discovered favorite annual for shade. Tourenia comes in various colors. The cobalt blue blooms of this one are fabulous. I also planted lime green Scotch Moss (Sagina subulata), Creeping Jenny, and wild violets in this area. :

More plants in the woodland garden:1st row: Japanese felt fern; 'Whitewater' weeping redbud; Hardy begonia. 2nd row: Athyrium filix-femina 'Lady in Red'; bench next to fern glade; Polystichum acrostichoides, a native fern also known as Christmas fern. 3rd row: Hellebore whose red blooms have faded to green; wild violets; Woodland rabbit with Colocasia.

This beautiful Bird's Nest fern (Asplenium nidus) stays in the woodland garden until cold weather arrives. It spends the winter inside, but it flourishes outside when the weather warms:

What about you? What makes you pause in a garden? How do you define beauty? The wonder is that I have seen many beautiful gardens, and they are all different!

You may also enjoy my previous post, Seven Elements of a Beautiful Garden.

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Reader Comments (19)

Your new rabbit in his avocado green coat is a beauty!

May 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDiana Studer

Even reading your post slows my breathing and calms my nerves, Deb! I too enjoy colorful foliage (although you might not know it with all the flowers I'm preparing to flaunt in the Bloom Day post I'm working on for publication tomorrow). Is the variegated geranium Pelargonium 'Mrs. Pollock'? I love that one too. (If it is, the flower is a surprisingly bright, almost florescent orange.) Trachelospermum jasminoides is also blooming in my garden right now - and my neighbor across the street has a massive hedge of it, all in full bloom.

May 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterKris P

Hi Kris, yes, looking at photos of 'Mrs. Pollock', I think that is what my geranium is. However, it wasn't labeled, so I can't be sure. Best wishes. I look forward to your post!

May 14, 2017 | Registered CommenterDeborah Elliott

Absolutely beautiful! The archway is stunning.

May 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPhillip

Oh yes your garden is very beautiful, nobogy will say otherwise! I specifically prefer the woodland garden, it is so serene and organized. I wish it is as easy here to do a garden like that. MIne is pathetic if judged from the elements of a garden you mentioned, hahaha!

May 15, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea

I enjoy your garden very much! The beauty of my garden lies in knowing birds and small animals are at home there; the peaceful feeling I have when walking through it; the pleasure I take in knowing I created it with my own two hands; the dreams I have for it and what it looks like in my mind's eye; and the memories and sentimental thoughts particular items and plants bring to mind. xo

Your garden is certainly very beautiful. I think that beautiful gardens have an additional depth - they do not just impact the named senses, but communicate on a whole different level to an additional sense. It's like when you are looking for a new home and you walk through the door to a house and it feels right - just like home.

May 15, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSarah Shoesmith

Your green rabbit is very handsome!

Did you grow your rose campion from seed? I tried once and failed to grow it outdoors in a very uncontrolled manner. Now that I have a seed-starting setup in my garage, I suppose I could try again. I did see it growing once on a Nashville garden tour and was very impressed. Does it self-sow for you?

May 15, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAaron

Your garden is a visual delight, beautiful indeed!!

May 15, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMark and Gaz

Hi everyone, thank you all for your comments! Aaron, regarding your comment and question about rose campion. Mine was a passalong plant, and I have divided it a couple of times to get more. I have not seen any seedlings. The area is mulched with pine straw around the plants, so seeds would be less likely to get down to the soil. I did read that they self-sow readily. Deb

May 15, 2017 | Registered CommenterDeborah Elliott

Your planting is impeccable Debbie; what sets your garden apart is your perfect use of different volumes and textures. I don't think your garden needs flowers at all to be beautiful but of course some colour is the icing on the cake.I hope the humidity keeps low so you can enjoy being outside for many weeks to come.

May 15, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterChristina

A peaceful atmosphere, healthy plants, a feeling of enclosure and wildlife friendly. That's what I look for in a garden. Your garden has all that and more. I don't really understand so-called low maintenance gardens full of pavement in stead of plants.

May 15, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDenise

So many vibrant colors in your garden, absolutely beautiful and very inspiring to me to go out and finish weeding ;-)

May 16, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterGone Tropical

Your garden is beautiful indeed, and has so many delightful niches! I like 'Penelope' very much, she reminds me of 'Sally Holmes' - I have a soft spot for single and semi-double white roses.

May 16, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJason

I had the pink 'Anthony Waterer' once. Bought 3 of them in 3 gallon pots. Just didn't thrive here. Love the leaves on your variegated geranium. Wishbone has been a favorite of mine for several years. I always buy the dark blue/purple. This year I put it in the shade, in a pot. It wasn't a big fan of full sun last year. Couldn't keep the Tropicana canna lily alive either but would like to try again if I could find the one with an orange bloom. I could mix it with my green leafed cannas that have yellow/orange spots on blooms. All I can find are red blooming Tropicanas.

May 16, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSouthernRuralRoute

What makes me pause? Every new bloom I see! May is the most glorious of months in my garden, and I love every bit of it. Your garden is always so delightful. I especially like that archway.

May 17, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterRobin

An arch of Jasmine! That is dreamy! And you have so many lovelies in bloom. Every day in the garden brings a new miracle and a new reason to pause and enjoy the miracles.

May 17, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterBeth @ PlantPostings

what I love is the different atmosphere and look in different parts of the garden. That rainbow canna is so special. I haven't had the nerve to try it in my garden but it's in a neighbour's garden and I admire it every time I go past. And you may have featured the woodland garden often in your blog, but I never tire of it.

May 18, 2017 | Unregistered Commentercatmint

Lovely to be back visiting your garden again Deb! It is looking glorious in all its May loveliness! It is a real testament to all your attention and hard work. I particularly love the beautiful jasmine covered arch and the plantings around the patio. You have created so many different spaces within your garden - it must be such a joy wandering around it all.
- Kate xx

May 31, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterKate R

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