Garden Photo of the Day

Margarita’s dream to have gardens came true!

Today’s photos are from Margarita Paounova, who says, “My name is Margarita, 48 years old, born in Bulgaria and came to USA 20 years ago. I live in Randolph, Massachusetts. After looking at hundreds of houses and searching for a bank-owned or foreclosure house, in 2011 we bought our dream house.

All I wanted was a house which is 20-40 years old with enough land so I can have gardens. I was raised in a small village in Bulgaria (Eastern Europe), my grandma had beautiful gardens and I guess that’s how I got the love for plants, but after that I was living in apartments and had houseplants, all I wanted was gardens. As you can see from the pictures, there was no landscaping at all, it was dirt and weeds, but I had the land and my dream. My husband has a restaurant and he is working everyday 16 hours, my son is 22 years old going to college and having his own business, at the same time we couldn’t afford landscaping company, or any other professional help, so it was all in my hands. I didn’t have any landscaping experience, so I start reading and searching the Internet and educating myself.

First I need privacy, so I bought from a local nursery 20 Thuja evergreen trees (which was my most expensive investment). When they delivered them, my son and husband dig the holes and we planted them. A fence company installed the white fence, a pool company changed the pool liner and filled it wit water. My dad did the edging around the grass with pavers and fixed the cement stairs, my husband made stairs for one of the grass terraces and this was all the help I had, everything else was done by my two hands.

First year I was leveling and terracing the sloping land, digging piles of big stones which I used later for terrace walls and decoration, seeding with grass, but then the grass needed water, sprinkle system was not an option because it’s too expensive, so I did my own sprinkle system, by connecting small hoses with sprinklers, then bought water timers and I had a sprinkle system.
So after 4 months hard labor I had a little green. Unfortunately on 28th of August 2011 hurricane Irene hit us and 4 big oak trees fall down in our yard, the result – holes in the roof, deck was gone, metal fence gone, grass and my first flowers gone, etc., so I have to start all over again.

I had to level the land again, seed the grass, etc. After all this I did some paving, by buying the tiles from Home Depot, sometime I have to run to HD 4 times a day, because my car is small, and the tiles are heavy.

The biggest challenge for me was working with mortar. The cement around the pool was dull, with cracks and chipped edges, so I have to fill the cracks, make it even, power-washed it, than spray with cement color and at the end seal it. The deck was looking old – power-washed it and than stain it. All the outdoor furniture bought from the internet, assembled it and with the help of my husband and son installed it.

The ugliest space was the one around and under the deck , The arbor with the two benches, change it a lot, in addition with trumpet tree, grape vines, wisteria, hibiscus. Now I am having my coffee there enjoying the fIower blooms. My favorite spot is around the big rock, where i planted hostas and lilies.”

Margarita, this is so inspiring!! The amount of work you did is staggering. It’s so nice now. Thanks so much for sharing it with us!

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View Comments


  1. perenniallycrazy 07/28/2014

    Love the story of your garden Margarita! Truly a labor of love. Hope you and your family now have time to sit down, relax and enjoy this beautiful and functional oasis you have created around your home. Thanks for sharing all your before and after pictures - makes one appreciate even more the magnitude of the work for your garden and yard transformation. Look forward to future updates from you.

    1. margaritapaounova 07/29/2014

      Thank you Perennially Crazy :)

  2. greengenes 07/29/2014

    What a transformation, Margarita! Its all so lovely now. Iam very sorry about the hurricane that devastated all the work you had put in your place. I so love the color of the house and foundation, too! And the blue pool looks so inviting! Each year it gets better and better! I really like the red daylily in one of your pictures. You have done a wonderful job and you and your family are hard workers! Thanks so much for sharing with us!

  3. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 07/29/2014

    What a great transformation! Your hard work has certainly yielded a rich reward.

  4. user-3282241 07/29/2014

    A very inspiring story and beautiful garden! I love the before and after photos shown together, it really shows the hard work and great results. Thanks for sharing.

  5. VikkiVA 07/29/2014

    Margarita, I so admire what you were able to accomplish! your garden is beautiful. Thank you for letting all of us share in the beauty of your hard work. Vikki in VA

  6. User avater
    meander_michaele 07/29/2014

    Margarita, you have a wonderful eye for color ...all that restaining has created such a welcoming warmth and created a very complimentary backdrop for the green of your lawn and the lively hues of reds, corals and pinks in your flowers. You are obviously a person of great passion and energy to make dreams into reality and your patience throughout your early years has been well rewarded. I loved reading your story and am so glad you took the time to share it.

  7. NCYarden 07/29/2014

    Yes, a true gardener indeed...grown from your own hard work - your hands, sweat and, I'm sure, sore back. It looks great. I really appreciate the "death to life" pictures for contrast. Quite a metamorphosis. You have definitely committed yourself to this garden. It's pleasant to see. Thank you for sharing.

  8. wittyone 07/29/2014

    Your garden is lovely. The before and after pictures make its clear how much time and effort went into the project. Your persistence in overcoming setbacks certainly has paid off for you and your family.

  9. jeannetrimble 07/29/2014

    Wonderful garden! I also bought a house with a bare ground space and know what you went through. The results are so satisfying! You did a great job! I love seeing the before and after pictures. Since I am 65 and slightly disabled, I cannot garden like I want to and so enjoy seeing all the things others can do. I feel closer to God in my garden than anywhere else on earth! Thank you for your posts!

  10. margaritapaounova 07/29/2014

    Thank you everyone for taking time to read my story, thank you for your comments that brought tears in my eyes, i really appreciate your words!

  11. annek 07/29/2014

    Wow, Margarita. You are quite a force. The before and after photographs were stunning in recording the difference all your work made. The bright, cheery railing boxes certainly bring warmth and homeyness to your design and the deck is fabulous and with all the under plantings and vines. I want to jump in that pool, float on my back and marvel at how love and caring can make a house into a home.

  12. GrannyMay 07/29/2014

    Margarita, you certainly deserve a summer off to relax by the pool, enjoy that lovely garden and bask in a feeling of a job well done! That was an enormous amount of work in only 3 years! Your home and garden look beautiful, warm and welcoming. Please continue to share.

  13. sheila_schultz 07/29/2014

    Margarita, you are an inspiration. You and your family bought a house that needed a lot of love that was surrounded by a yard that begged for attention. Through your passion and need to have beautiful gardens, you have created a warm and welcoming home with gardens that truly show your love of working with nature. Your grandmother would be so proud of you. I am in awe.

  14. Cenepk10 07/29/2014

    Margarita !!! You are the living embodiment of the American Dream !!! And not without obstacles- the hurricane. Sometimes these seeming devastations produce much good. Your garden is a spectacular paradise and I loved seeing it !!! It's always a challenge to visualize the end result and go through the painstaking motions to achieve the vision. I am sure you will continue to evolve your garden and look forward to more pictures in the fall ?

    1. margaritapaounova 07/29/2014

      Thank you, your words hit my eyes and inspired me more, i am far away from fine gardening and have a lot more to improve, it is an endless project :), about the huricane - that's true it was scary and devastating, but "thanks to the huracane" with the money from the insurance we painted the whole house and did new roof :)

  15. MNGardenGirl 07/29/2014

    Love your story! The before and after photos really tell the story.

  16. christianesterges 07/29/2014

    A marvellous job ... I do like the way you present your hard work and the super results .. keep enjoying it !

  17. ancientgardener 07/29/2014

    Margarita, you are a credit to the gardening community. Such patient and persistent hard work certainly was an inspiration to me. Softening your deck underpinnings with colorful vines was the perfect solution. You have created a lovely home and surroundings.

  18. foxglove12 07/30/2014

    Wow! It looks fantastic! Love the before and after photos.

  19. valw2001 07/30/2014

    What a great job and amazing transformation. Thanks for sharing.

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