It may have been billed as the Takoma House and Garden Tour but we'll just ignore the house part and enjoy what the gardens have to offer.  Which in a normal year would include a bevy of azaleas in bloom but thanks to our freakishly early spring, they're already past their glory now in the first week of May.   So, the lesser stars of the spring garden got a bit more attention this year.

Garden Tour

This first little pocket garden surrounded by stone illustrates all sorts of things - starting with how much better plants look set against stones (at least to my eyes).   And how much impact a very small garden can have, if the right plants are chosen.   Blooming in this scene are a white peony, a fuschia spirea, a nice mass of nepata (catmint), enhanced by the all-season chartreuse foliage in the creeping jenny.   Later it looks like some daylilies will add color, and late in the season, some mums.

That same little garden is seen here in its context - along the side of the home and with a climbing rose and purple trellis providing a stunning background.  It's amazing how much a dab of paint can add to a garden.

Now isn't this scene inviting?  Seating, a bird bath focal point and a wood-chip path make this front-yard garden both inviting and interesting, without a single bloom in sight.

More great stonework is doing its job here -  holding back soil on an incline and making all the plants look even better.  In bloom now are a Scotch broom - a plant we just don't see enough of - and behind it, a Knockout rose.

Here's another example of great seating making the garden.  A wisteria-covered arbor provides total shade for this dining area, and presumably it was built to handle the great weight of that famously vigorous climber.

Again, there are no blooms in sight but a pond always invites attention.  I love the weathered, old-fashioned seating, too.  All very restful.

Another example of old-fashioned and weathered is seen here in the cedar shake siding - love it!  I also appreciate the old-fashioned  look of the full-grown weigela blooming in the center of the photo.  Weigelas are one of the unsung heroes of large gardens because they grow fast, take up lots of space and provide that all-important structure - the garden's bones - while creating very little work for the gardener.  Just a bit of renewal pruning after they're full grown (removing one-third of the stems all the way to the ground every year or two.)

Finally, another great example of how much stone can add to a garden.   Right now the scene is enhanced by some climbing hydrangea blooms but even when that display is done for the year, this old fireplace is an effective focal point.

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