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Garden Photo of the Day

Downsizing without sacrificing style

This is now the area between the  trees which overlooks the newly completed patio.  My neighbor's house is in the background.  Next year's project is to transform the space between us into a new and improved garden. 

Kathy Uszler in Mount Prospect, Illinois certainly did not miss a beat when she downsized from her 34-year-old garden here to her new 55+ retirement community!

"Three years ago I submitted photos of my garden to the GPOD because I was leaving my garden and moving to a 55+ retirement community. We are very happy here and I have worked hard and long to transform this into a new garden in my vision.  I did take many transplants from the old garden but have added many more. Plants were put in between 1 and 3 years ago so in time they will fill in more. I told myself when I came here that I would try to keep the size of this garden more manageable, but it is hard not to find new ways to add to the beds.  I still have one area between our property and my neighbor next door (whose garden I designed when they first moved here about 10 years ago).  You will see it in the background.  We will both be expanding our beds to create a garden space between our houses.  I have attached photos of the property when we bought it and photos of my garden today."

The front of the house today. The only thing I kept was the birch and the serviceberry. 

The front of the house today. Includes 'Concode' barberry, 'Coralburst' crab, 'Annabelle' hydrangea, 'Ruby Voodo' rose, Jackmanii clematis, 'June' hosta, alchemilla, Bird's nest spruce, 'Cauticola ' sedum. 

The bed in front was the one with nothing but yellow daylilies. Note the garden ornament is in the same place.  Now 3 different daylilies, an Oriental daylily, asclepias tuberosa, 'Moonshine' yarrow, alchemilla, 'May Night' salvia, 'Blue Clips' campanula. 

Palibin lilac standard, 'Katharine' phlox, unknown daylily, coneflower, liatris and Oriental lily 'Conca d'or' 

The front of the house when we moved in.

This is the backyard when we bought the house. It had daylilies, grasses and hostas.

Keep sending in photos (and stories)! Whether you've never shared before or you've been featured multiple times, we want to see your garden! Email a few photos and the story behind your garden to GPOD@taunton.com.

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View Comments


  1. PerenniallyCrazy 07/22/2015

    Trust a passionate gardener to make a house into a home! You've done an outstanding job Kathy. Your neighbour must love you to pieces.

  2. wGardens 07/22/2015

    What a great project this is. Practically a "clean slate" to start with to turn your house into a home with your stamp of personality and love of gardening upon it. Great job! Appreciate the "before and after" photos. Keep us in touch with your continuing transformations!

  3. NCYarden 07/22/2015

    Oh, Kathy, this is just splendid. Kinda reminds me of my home when we bought it - grass, standard contractor foundation shrubs, daylilies... (we, too, kept our river birch though). Your love of gardening is apparent, and of course you can't contain your garden when you can't even contain your enthusiasm.Sweet! I say keep going. Can't wait to see what you do with the space between the houses. I'm sure it will be spectacular. It's obvious that house is smiling with the love you've bestowed upon it. Thanks for sharing, and the before and afters.

  4. User avater
    meander1 (Michaele ) 07/22/2015

    You've really done a masterful job, Kathy. Your place now has so much warmth and personality. Although the initial planting beds at least had some redeeming curves, the plant material was just downright boring...now those beds are dancing with color and vibrancy and I'm sure attract beautiful birds and butterflies. It's so great that you and your neighbor are excited about undertaking the new project ....sharing enthusiasms and ideas keep you young at heart.

    PS to either Kathy or Susan at GPOD, thanks for sharing the link to the previous pictures. I always like to go back and remind myself about an earlier sharing.

    1. GrannyMay 07/22/2015

      I like to do that too, so here it is. http://www.finegardening.com/reader-photos-kathys-garden-illinois

  5. VikkiVA 07/22/2015

    Very, very nice Kathy! Your landscaping and plant choice is stunning. I love the short wall you created around your back patio as well as the structural changes you made to the front porch. You obviously have a keen eye for beauty and style. Bravo! Vikki in VA.

  6. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 07/22/2015

    You've come a long way! It's so great to see those before pictures. What an amazing job, although it is not surprising having seen your previous garden photos. Have you made any major decisions about what you are planting, looking to the future in your new home? I know that I am considering more shrubs and lower-maintenance plants as I think about the future of my garden. Thanks for sending in the great update!

  7. Sheila_Schultz 07/22/2015

    Kathy, your neighbors must be so pleased you moved to the neighborhood. The entry to your home screams, 'Welcome', and your backyard gardens flow in such a way everyone walking past can enjoy the beauty you have created! Lower maintenance obviously isn't limited to shades of green!

  8. user-4691082 07/22/2015

    Kathy, you are fortunate your community allows you to landscape. Many of them do not, as my sister found out. You have done a beautiful job! I'm sure when you downsized, you brought your best ideas and favorite plants. It shows!

  9. User avater
    HelloFromMD 07/22/2015

    Hi Kathy, I went back and saw your previous garden that was lovely and lush. And so is your garden at your new house. How have you downsized? Are the new garden beds smaller? Is the property smaller? It doesn't look like a retirement home, it looks like a beautiful home.

  10. GrannyMay 07/22/2015

    Kathy your new garden beds are lovely! It seems that you have been able to keep the best of the old and transform the rest with your favourites. Are there any restrictions as to what you can do? Are you allowed fencing?

  11. Nancy44 07/22/2015

    Beautiful ! We are also downsizing and have some of the same plans: easy plants and fewer of them.

  12. kuszler 07/22/2015

    Thanks for all of your wonderful comments. I made certain before we purchased our home here that I would be allowed (within certain restrictions) to create a new garden. I had actually dealt with the HOA previously when I landscaped my neighbor's yard 10 years ago. She had been my hairdresser for many years and she asked me if I wanted to drive the 30 miles to her new home here in Huntley,IL to design her landscape. It was quite a coincidence that when we were thinking about moving here, that the house next door to her was just going on the market. I fell in love with the house and knew that I would be able to do good things with the landscaping also. I just finished re-doing the landscaping of the neighbor's house on the other side of me, so I have great views out of all of my windows!
    We do have to submit our plans for major changes for approval, but I have now done many designs for customers in this community and have never had anything turned down. We are not allowed fences, but since my home is on the golf course, I wouldn't want to hide my "borrowed" view anyway.
    This garden and property is smaller than the old house but if I don't stop making new beds and adding more plants, it may be as much work as in the old house. I have to keep reminding myself how much work the previous garden was so I don't get too carried away. But as you all know, that is not an easy task for a gardener!

  13. Nurserynotnordstroms 07/22/2015

    Kathy ,you are true gardener and I think you most likely will in the end have full large gardens again we some how can't stop ourselves can we?I met a woman in her 80's this weekend and son said he wished she would slow down but I thought to myself she probably wouln't live long because she was healthy and so happy gardening and that's what was keeping her young(you would have never guessed her age) so keep gardening because you are such a great gardener and I have enjoyed seeing your lovely gardens again.

  14. lil_holloway 07/22/2015

    What beautiful gardens. No wonder folks are seeking your services to design their paradise! It is very hard to find over 55+ (if even possible) that will allow that flexibility. First question I ask when we look in MA and NH. Truly stunning.

  15. eddireid 07/22/2015

    Before reading all the posts I went back to your previous garden and read all the comments and am very glad to have done so. All of those responding were so kind and concerned for you at that time, but you have approached your new adventure with good planning and you also moved next door to an old friend - a wonderfully good plan. We all worry, I think, how to manage if we leave a loved place but reading about your garden and how well things are working out, is a boost. Your love of gardening is clearly the key to the success you have achieved. You have a plan and will continue to enjoy your life and you checked everything before making such a big step.
    Beautiful garden, beautifully planned and planted. Enjoy every minute in your new home.

  16. Cenepk10 07/25/2015

    Stunning !!!!!!!!!! So very very very nice !!!! Love your garden & plant choices !!! And your neighbors' garden ! So grateful you shared !

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