Garden Photo of the Day

Spring in Mary’s Garden

A garden of solace in a difficult time

shade garden in spring

Today we’re in Maryland, visiting Mary Spencer’s garden.

May is my favorite month of the year and is when my shade garden comes to life. I have lived here for 23 years and have taken out just a single rhododendron and added hundreds of plants. My love of hostas shows no evidence of waning. I don’t know what I enjoy more—the plants or the many different birds that show up in the yard. I lost my husband of 42 years last August, and the garden is what keeps me going.

ground cover with yellow flowers below a shrub with white flowersYellow archangel (Lamiastrum galeobdolon, Zones 4–8) with silver-marked foliage and yellow blooms is a beautiful plant, but it spreads rapidly, so it needs to be sited where it won’t smother other plants.

shade garden with lots of foliage plantsThe woodland garden is lush with plants, with huge ostrich ferns (Matteuccia struthiopteris, Zones 2–8).

front yard garden full of flowersA flower-covered dogwood (Cornus, Zones 5–9) presides over the garden.

hosta behind a plant with red and yellow flowersSpigelia marilandica (Zones 5–9) is a wonderful native perennial with incredible red-and-yellow blooms, here showing off in front of a hosta.

shade garden in springFrom low ground covers to taller growing perennials to shrubs and trees, every layer of this garden brings different textures and shades of green.

variegated plant behind orange and white flowersBright color for the shade is provided by a variegated hosta and orange and white impatiens (Impatiens walleriana, Zones 10–11 or as an annual).

brightly colored shade plantingsA container planted up with annuals and Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa macra, Zones 5–9) adds height to this shade planting.

shrub with flower buds about to openFlower buds from a mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia, Zones 5–9) are in their wonderful balloon stage before popping open.


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View Comments


  1. garden1953 06/20/2022

    So beautiful, so peaceful. I love your gardens!
    Thanks for sharing.

  2. User avater
    treasuresmom 06/20/2022

    Oh, my. How lovely!

  3. starvnmarvn 06/20/2022

    Outstanding creativity with great balance & impressive coverage. Your passion for nature, color, & landscape beauty shines from every angle! Surely the work of a 'Master Gardener'!

  4. user-7392754 06/20/2022

    Amazing!!!! What a lovely lovely place you have created!!!!

  5. sheila_schultz 06/20/2022

    Oh my, your woodland gardens are so lush and lovely, they create a lovely calming atmosphere for home. The blooms on your Mountain laurel and Spigelia marilandica are beautiful!

  6. fromvirginia 06/20/2022

    So lovely Mary. That spigelia is special. Thanks for sharing.

  7. User avater
    simplesue 06/20/2022

    I love your garden style, it's what I aspire to have my garden look like.
    Gardens are healing places- to sit in or to work sorry to hear of the loss of your husband, and I'm glad you have found solace in your gardening.
    I'm so impressed with your accomplishment in design and plant choices- just beautiful!

  8. cheryl_c 06/20/2022

    Mary, condolences on the loss of your husband of 44 years - I know that your gardens have been both the recipients and the givers during this time of mourning and healing. I love your plant combinations. I'd never thought of combining the lamiastrum with oakleaf hydrangeas, but I JUST LOVE that look! And your orange and white impatiens in front of the variegated hosta are remarkable. Thanks so much for sharing. And blessings on your healing.

  9. cheryl_c 06/20/2022

    Oops it isn't an oakleaf, it is viburnum (?plicatum?) that the lamiastrum is fronting. I'd already decided to try to replicate that look in front of an oakleaf, so my mistake! Sorry!

  10. btucker9675 06/20/2022

    First - my deepest sympathy on the loss of your dear husband. Second - isn't it wonderful how we find grace and healing in our gardens, no matter what the source of sadness. You've created an absolute sanctuary. I'm going to look for that spigelia marilandia - stunning.

  11. wildthyme 06/21/2022

    For those of us who love gardening, our gardens do indeed bring us peace. Yours looks like a lovely place to spend some healing hours.

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