Gardens, glorious gardens! There is nothing that gives me more pleasure, satisfaction, and inspiration than visiting beautiful gardens, or getting my hands dirty trying to create my own vision of a glorious garden.
"Creating gardens is the highest expression of living a good life."
- Francis Bacon
Just what is a “glorious” garden? To me it means a garden that is well-designed, contains well-selected and sited plantings, is adapted to its environment, is filled with personal favorites, and is beautiful in all seasons. Mostly, it is one you love to be in and long to come home to, that envelops you in safety, serenity and beauty, giving you a refuge from the stress of modern day living.
I love to visit gardens to get ideas for my own, to see new varieties, how they are used and try to figure out how I can adapt the ideas I see to my own space. My own garden is about 2/3 of an acre in Zone 8a in the Atlanta, Georgia area, and the back end of it is filled with mature forest trees that create a lot of shade in the summer. I love the trees—oaks and hickories mostly--and enjoy how they change through the seasons and affect the light. But they create one of the biggest challenges I have which is to grow some of the perennials I love best that require full sun. So, I will keep the trees, and figure out how to work around the shade.
I have a few personal goals as I work on my own garden. And knowing that creating a garden is a lifelong pursuit, subject to the whims of weather and the changing personal tastes of the owner, it must be adaptable. Or rather I should say that the gardener must be flexible and willing to change things that don’t work--like color combinations, plants that become too aggressive or outgrow their space, and those that prove to be a poor match for the site conditions.
One of my goals is to have something in bloom every day of the year—and I have achieved that goal. Even in winter there are many options (at least in my zone). In January, for instance, some early Camellia japonica varieties will begin to bloom, as well as hellebores (Lenten roses) and even early bulbs like snowdrops, Iris reticulata and early narcissus. Late winter brings the fragrant white and yellow blooms of Edgeworthia chrysantha (paperbush), and Daphne odora (white or pink) that perfume the garden. And, of course, there are annuals that will grow and bloom in winter such as pansies, violas, and snapdragons in milder zones.
Spring brings cheer at the end of a cold winter with a wide choice of options including bulb favorites such as crocuses, daffodils, hyacinths, and tulips in a vast array of colors. One must have at least one beautiful spring flowering tree in the garden. Choose among cherries, crabapples, dogwoods, magnolias, or redbuds--there is something to fit any garden. Flowering shrubs like azaleas, forsythia, lilacs, mockorange, mountain laurel, rhododendrons, viburnums, and more are essential and are useful for color, texture and often, scent, as accents, hedges, or as part of a shrub border or mixed border. Spring perennials include some of the most beloved flowers of all including columbines, delphiniums, dianthus, foxgloves, irises, peonies, phlox, and poppies.
Summer is a time of great abundance in the garden and there is scarcely a limit in choice. Summer brings alliums, tropical looking caladiums and perfumed lilies. among other bulbs. There are coneflowers, daisies, daylilies, salvias, and so many more perennials. Of course, summer is the time for annuals, too, and there are many to choose from--amaranths, begonias, cosmos, marigolds, nicotiana, poppies, sweet peas, zinnias--to name just a few. There may not be as many flowering shrubs and trees blooming in the summer, but the ones that do are some of the best including crape myrtles, evergreen magnolias, gardenias, hydrangeas, and roses.
Autumn is for many the best time of year. The weather has cooled, the leaves begin to change color, and it is the perfect time for planting. Autumn brings forth sudden bulb flowers from colchicums, autumn crocuses, and lycorises (naked ladies). Late season perennials dazzle with the blues of monkshoods and salvias, yellows of rudbeckias and chrysanthemums, blues and purples of asters, pinks of sedums, and the charm of Japanese anemones--not mention the airy graceful plumes of grasses. When we think of shrubs and trees for fall, we automatically think of ones with brilliant fall foliage color like enkianthus, winterhazel, viburnum, maples, dogwoods, ginkgos, and many more. But there are some that continue flowering from summer until frost like abelias, buddleias, and roses. And then there are the special ones that are worth waiting for, especially in the South--Camellia sasanqua and Osmanthus fragrans. Sasanquas for their beautiful blooms of white, pink, or red; and osmanthus for the delicious fragrance that emanates from tiny flowers of white or orange.
The choices among trees, shrubs, perennials, bulbs, annuals and more, for color, scent, texture, size and use are almost limitless. The reason for organizing the website based on the seasons is to show that there are exceptional plants to choose in every season no matter what effect you are aiming for.
Everyone won’t love everything—but that’s the beauty of it—the choices you make will reflect your personal taste and vision, and will be the purest expression of you.
Your garden can be your own private paradise! Select your favorites for a springtime full of color, scent and beauty.
The garden in summer is a time of bounty and beauty. Select your favorites for for a joyful summer of color and fragrance.
Make your fall garden as lovely as your spring garden by choosing special trees, shrubs, perennials and bulbs for fall color.
The garden in winter is a glorious time of year. Your winter garden can be special with the right plant choices.
Plant of the Month
Camellia x vernalis 'Egao Corkscrew'
Updated new USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map 2023.