Plant Selection – Magic in May

May is my favourite month of the whole year in the UK. Mostly, because it’s the start of some great flowers appearing and all the signs are there that summer is on its way…

May Plant Selection

Here are some of my favourite planting combinations for this time of year.  They can be used as an add on to April’s plant selection. In fact, I encourage you to do so. The two combined will give you a wonderfully vibrant combination of flowers and foliage.
MAY-plants-selectionRight click on this link to download a larger version of the plant selection – file ‘Save As’

Geranium pratense ‘Black Beauty’

This particular variety of geranium has the most amazing dark purple foliage. The flowers are a stunning shade of violet. This is a relatively low growing variety, only reaching about 30 cm high. It will flower on and off for months, from May to November, in a good year. It can grow in most soils and can take full sun to partial shade.

Allium Purple Sensation

These striking flowers are members of the onion family. The flowers, and strap shaped leaves, come up from bulbs every year. They are the perfect plant to repeat around the garden. They are ideal for placing in between other plants as a gap filler. They mostly flower in May and in to June. They prefer full sun, but will take a little shade.

Iris Black Swan

I absolutely love irises. It’s not just the exquisite and unusual shaped flowers that draw me to them. For me, their glaucous spiky foliage is a very appealing and an attractive break in any flower border. They grow from corms, which are similar to bulbs, and need to be just above the soil level, so that they can be baked by the sun. This is definitely a plant thrives in hot sunny conditions.

Euphorbia wulfenii

This is one of my favourite Euphorbias. The lime-green flower bracts make the perfect backdrop to purple flowers and foliage.They also look great with the deep blue of the Ceanothus. They are semi-evergreen with blue green leaves, in quite an architectural form to the overall shape of the plant. They grow in quite a wide variety of soil conditions and will take full sun through to partial shade.

Ceanothus ‘Blue Sapphire’

The vivid blue flowers of this Ceanothus along with the almost purple green foliage and stems, make for a very attractive shrub. However, whilst it is incredibly beautiful, compared to other Ceanothus, it is a little on the weedy side. Whilst some Ceanothus can take cooler conditions, this one will only survive with little or no frost. Because of its colour, I still think it’s worth trying. But if you know you’re in an area that has a lot of winter frosts, then it’s probably best to avoid this particular variety.

What are your favourite plants in May?

Leave your plant suggestions in either the Facebook or comments boxes below.

Want to learn more about combining plants?

Check out the Plant Design Formula, where I will share all my top tricks on how you successfully put plants together to create stunning combinations.

BUT do be warned, plants alone will NOT give you a stunning garden – you have to get the design layout right first. If you don’t know how to do that then…

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About Rachel Mathews

Professional international garden designer for over 20 years. My mission is to de-mystify garden design and make it easy for people to successfully design their own garden - without needing to spend a fortune!


  1. Alison Boocock says:

    My favourite plant in May is my Peony rose, which belonged to my granny. It is beautiful and has great sentimental value and must easily be at least 60+ years old! My 2nd favourite plant in bloom right now is my lovely blush pink rhododendron 'Amanda Sue'. I also love Euphorbia – in fact I love everything that's appearing – except weeds! LOL!

  2. Wow, that must be some peony, Alison! I'm guessing you must have a nice acid soil if you have a Rhodo as well!

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