Melissa Mong and her adorable daughter Miya are the summer quarter winners of R&G’s “Lake Helen’s Prettiest Garden” contest. Come take a tour of their adorable cottage garden with me. The side gate is open so let’s start there.
The first thing you notice is the beautiful pair of mature Sweet Almond Bushes that form a canopy over the side gate. Walking through those when they’re in bloom is heavenly.
As you step onto the curvy pathway you feel and hear the gravel crunch under foot as you walk past informal garden beds packed full of color. Yarrow. Pentas. Angelonia.
Miya’s swingset adds to the relaxing feel because it’s easy to imagine her laughter as she plays. You know Melissa’s close by watching…maybe while working in the garden or while taking a break in the nearby sitting area.
As you follow the path on, you see that the adorable garden shed is a miniature version of the house. It’s also set amongst garden beds full of color. Firebush. Bulbine. White Mexican Heather. Oakleaf Hydranges. The smaller Sweet Almond Bushes to the left of the shed will one day become large and form a canopy that will give shade and add more sweet fragrance to the air.
Turning the corner to the right, the pathway takes you past a gorgeous Angel Trumpet, Crape Myrtle, square vegetable and herb raised beds, a raised bed filled with beautiful salmon-colored Drift roses, and another sitting area. Look at that huge Pineapple Sage!
You step off the gravel path onto an expanse of lawn. Showcased in the middle of the lawn are two mature Camellias and a large Sago Palm.
Their formalness echo the formalness of what you see next as you turn right…a straight concrete pathway leading from the front gate to the front porch. The pathway is flanked by an allee of towering palm trees set in manicured beds of Asiatic Jasmine.
The formalness stops though as soon as you step onto the beautiful front porch. Want to sit a spell and enjoy the view? Well, this is the epitome of a Southern porch…complete with plenty of comfortable chairs to choose from. No formal stuffiness here.
Or you could wander around the front of the house to the side yard to the hammock that’s hidden in the corner, perfectly tucked between two large trees. Complete with a nearby windchime that sings softly in the southern breezes.
Not quite ready to sit a spell? Well, let’s continue the tour. Walk through the lawn around the porch and you’ll see curvy beds jutting out into the lawn. Lime green and black Sweet Potato Vine crawl on the ground. There’s a birdbath for the happy birds to play in. Pink Marginata sends its pink and green spiky leaves above the vines. And look…there’s Spiderwort….a native plant all too often wrongly considered a weed. But Melissa welcomes it into her garden with open arms.
Two red Adirondack chairs facing opposite ways. They remind me of the old-time Victorian courting chairs.
Next to the house is a stand of beautiful Crepe Myrtles in a bed of African Iris and Walking Iris. The Crepes are just starting to put on their summer blooming show. Look closely and you’ll see a statue tucked under the leaves of the Iris.
Past the courting chairs the Chaste Trees are showing their glory of violet blooms. Tucked in that bed are Sage, Pentas, ornamental grasses, Coleus, Yarrow, Iris, and a bird feeder.
Miya says fairies use the strap-like leaves of the Iris to slide down into the Yarrow. The Yarrow is soft, which helps the fairies land safely.
One last garden bed to enjoy before the tour is over. This one has bright colored Gaillardia, Pentas, Sage, and red Knock-Out roses in it. And look…there’s a container of Bromeliads too.
And we’re back at the charming little side gate. I hope you enjoyed the tour as much as I did.
It’s amazing what Melissa’s done with this garden. In the 3-1/2 years they’ve lived here she’s transformed it into a peaceful, relaxing oasis of color and fragrance using native and Florida friendly plants. I like that the outside perimeter of the garden is surrounded by shrubs and vines like Anise, Viburnum, Pinwheel Jasmine, Texas Sage, Azaleas, blueberries, and blackberries. Only being able to see glimpses of this secret garden from the outside adds to the charm and mystique of it. And both entrances being so very different from each other, the front so formal and the side so casual, adds to the garden’s charm of having something surprising around every corner.
For being the summer quarter winners, Melissa and Miya get to show off this snazzy “Prettiest Garden Winner” lawn sign for the next three months, and they also received gift certificates from the following local businesses: Roses and Gargoyles, Creative Arts Cafe, Papa’s Pizza, 3 Sisters Ice Cream Palace, Portia’s Family Hair Care, and Brecht’s Meat Market. Many, many thanks to all of these businesses.
Here are more pics for you to enjoy:
Congrats, Melissa and Miya! Your beautiful Lake Helen garden is absolutely charming and I feel very lucky to have found it.
Happy digging in the dirt…
Jeanni and Gibbs