Garden Photo of the Day

READER PHOTOS! Kathy’s garden in Illinois

'Palibin' lilac on a standard, remnants of goatsbeard (Aruncus dioicus), yarrow, veronica, oriental lilies, and 'Crystal Fountain' clematis.  The mirror reflects back many different views depending on where you are standing. 2 WAYS TO ENLARGE! Click directly on the photo to enlarge in a pop-up, or click HERE to see this image, larger, in a new browser window
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Kathy Uszler

Today’s photos are from Kathy Uszler in Mount Prospect, Illinois. Kathy says, “I have lived in my house for almost 34 years.  I started gardening seriously here about 20 years ago.  Eleven years ago I took my passion for gardening and turned it into my vocation.  I have operated my own landscape design and installation business and have really enjoyed creating beautiful landscapes and gardens for my clients.

Liatris getting ready to bloom, drumstick allium, ‘Carefree Wonder’ rose, daylilies, and rose campion (Lychnis coronaria), which came from my mom’s garden years ago and keeps reseeding itself.
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Kathy Uszler

“As with any garden, mine has grown slowly over the years and it makes me happy to spend what little time I have left after work in my garden.  I’m sending photos now because I will be leaving this garden soon.  My husband and I are moving to a retirement community and we’ve just sold the house.  I will be passing this garden on to another gardener and am looking forward to beginning a new one at my new home.  I’m hoping of course that the new owner will be willing to share plants from their new garden so I can bring some memories with me to my new one.”

‘Nearly Wild’ rose, catmint, ‘Moonbeam’ coreopsis, ‘Jolly Bee’ geranium, oriental lily.
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Kathy Uszler

Oh, it’s so sad to leave a garden Kathy, but so exciting to think of all the opportunities in the new one! I’m sure it will be as beautiful as this one is. Have fun!  **Check out the captions on each photos for more info**

For a number of years I used all white flowers at the front of the house.  Then I painted the door red and added touches of red to the containers on the front porch.  There is that one pink astilbe that managed to sneak in there.
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Kathy Uszler
That is a ‘September Charm’ Japanese anemone in the center which is covered in pink flowers in the fall.  It is a real runner and I have to keep it in bounds all the time, but I long ago decided it was worth the effort when I see it bloom in the fall.  The purple phlox is Phlox paniculata ‘Nicky.’  By the way–the upside down tomato planter never did work for me.
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Kathy Uszler
Here are remnants of drumstick alliums, echinacea, daylilies, and oriental lilies (my favorite).  I have so many I’ve forgotten their names.  And yes in the background is the dreaded lythrum that came from my mother’s garden many years ago.  It has never spread even once beyond where it is and I have often wondered if this is a sterile variety.
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Kathy Uszler
Here are ‘Comtessa de Bouchad’ clematis, balloon flower, ‘Purple Petticoats’ heuchera,  Asclepias tuberosa, ‘Blue Clips’ campanula, ‘Northbrook Star’ daylily and a Koreanspice viburnum (Viburnum carlesii).
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Kathy Uszler
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Kathy Uszler

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  1. lijda 04/27/2012

    I had a tear in my eye reading that you are leaving your garden. It's beautiful and I'm sure your new garden will be just as rewarding but it is still bittersweet to leave something you've tended for so long. And congratulations on selling your home, something not easy in many parts of this country. Did your garden help the sale? How did the new owners react? I worried once that my overabundance of plants would put off potential buyers when it comes time for me to sell. But my landscape friend said, not to worry, the property was small enough that the new owner could easily just take it all out. Is that supposed to be a comforting thought?

    (Michelle, I didn't get the usual note about today's entry, something is awry in email land. I had to go to the Fine Gardening web site to access this GPOD entry.)

  2. User avater
    meander_michaele 04/27/2012

    Kathy, my heart, too, felt a pang of empathy at the thought of you saying goodbye to this beautifully tended garden. However, you seem to have a good attitude and, just as our gardens have their seasons, so do our lives. I hope the new owner of your place has a generous attitude and lets you take memories galore...meaning lots of carefully dug out divisions. Happy gardening creating your new oasis.

  3. tractor1 04/27/2012

    That looks like a long term labor of love (34 years is a life time), much thought, effort, and emotion went into creating so perfect a property. And I love that house, looks so strong, welcoming, and comforting. Which brings me to WHY? After perusing what I can see of that propety with my extremely critical eye (both) I conclude that there is no better retirement community home than the one I'm looking at. I know like the others I'm supposed Ooo, Ahh, Scrape, Bow, and Fawn, but I can't, my ennate logic won't allow me to think other than what is wrong with this picture. I can comprehend leaving for something different if one is infirm and can no longer tend to a garden but here Kathy is already planning on digging up plants to begin a new garden. I can comprehend someone tiring of cold icy winters, but half my retired neighbors head south for the winter and return to the old homestead about now. I just don't get it... I hope Kathy is not making a huge mistake... I've met lots of folks who sold their homes, moved to a retirement community, hate it and can't come back. I truly hope I am wrong.

  4. MichelleGervais 04/27/2012

    Sorry about the late email this morning, guys. We use a service to mail it out in the middle of the night (no...I don't stay up til 3 a.m. to hit SEND... :-) ), and there was a hiccup this morning. All fixed now!

  5. marciaelaine 04/27/2012

    How beautiful your gardens are. I know how you feel about having to move, we have spent approximately 6 years at each place we lived and have always had floral and vegetable gardens. We have lived here in our retirement house, which is too big now, we had moved our disabled son and my husband's mother to this home. It sits on an acre of land and is getting to be too much for us. We are starting to look for a smaller retirement home, my mother-in-law is passed and our son is in the final stages of aids. I hated to move at first but then thought there are too many memories here, so a move would be good. My husband has parkinson's but has done well on his meds and is my gardener. I always take his grandmother's Christmas with us, I have no idea how old the plant really is.
    Good luck in your new home, I have even thought of patio gardening if we have to move to that small an area.

  6. pattyspencer 04/27/2012

    Just beautiful! If I were buying the house I'd change nothing - absolutely nothing!!!!! And I'd hire you to come back to help me maintain it and pass on all your knowledge to me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. wGardens 04/27/2012

    This is just lovely. I hope the new owners appreciate and continue to nurture your beautiful gardens. Congratulations on a job WELL done. Best wishes to you. I am sure we would all love to see your new home and the garden transformations!

  8. annek 04/27/2012

    OH my....I so agree with' tractor1', but sometimes life requires us to choose a different path. If you MUST move from this beautifully tended garden, know that there are many GPOD readers who are heartily hoping that your new buyer provides you time with your shovel so that you may bring some of your labor-of-love plants to your new life. Wherever you go, your love of gardening will help get you through!

    PS: And just like 'pattyspencer'...If this were my new property, I wouldn't change a thing (not event he sneaky pink astilbe).

  9. sheilaschultz 04/27/2012

    Kathy, your gardens show just how much love you have put into them over the years, they are beautiful. The new owners are pretty darn lucky!

  10. wittyone 04/27/2012

    Oh, Kathy, moving after such a long and successful term as head gardener must have been a difficult but well considered decision. Things do change and gardeners as they age often have less energy and mobility and so downsizing becomes a necessity but it does offer the possibility of a new adventure. I hope you will have a manageable swath of land to start landscaping at your new residence. Maybe you will be able to start a gardening program of some sort at the retirement community. With all your knowledge and obvious skills I would think that the management would be thrilled to have you move in and start digging.

  11. tractor1 04/27/2012

    The one thing I noticed immediately that I'd change is to eliminate that ivy climbing on the brickwork, it will weaken and eventually destroy that lovely masonary... it would cost a small fortune to have that chimney repaired/replaced, if you can find someone today who knows how. As to lessening one's gardening chores it's rather simple to eliminate/shrink plantings, which makes maintenence less and less laborious until it matches ones capabilities. I know that in youth folks tend to expand their chores to and beyond their abilities, but hopefully in time one gathers the wisdom to eliminate that which they no longer need and/or can do. One can enjoy fewer plantings more than they can many, I firmly believe that with many things, and gadening is just one, that less is more... I'm a great proponent of quality over quantity. I truly abhor a crowded garden, especially where there is no deliniation where one plant ends and the next begins... if you're planting a forest you are no kind of gardener because I know very well that a forest grows itself. A forest has it's own beauty yet requires little to no care. I learned that in retirement that so long as one isn't growing crops large rural acreage is far easier to manage than the typical suburban lot. I exert much more energy growing my 50' X 50' vegetable garden than on all the rest of my 16 acres combined. In retirement I plant trees and shrubs rather than expansive flower beds for a reason; slow growth and little to no maintenence... it's very easy to weed a spruce tree, for the most part the rabbits that live beneath eat the weeds. Where Kathy lives I'd systmatically exchange many of her plantings for dwarf and semi dwarf conifers.

    I trust that Kathy checked out her new destination carefully, most all retirement communities maintain very strict rules pertaining to everything and especially gardening, most don't allow any gardening, hardly allow a potted plant, the HOA/Condo contracts with a landscaping service that does it all. Some 35 years ago I tried condo living, I lasted less than one year. I have a friend who recently retired to an HOA near Austin TX, they wouldn't allow her a small rock garden at the foot of her driveway, she hates living there. I have another friend who a few years ago retired to a retirement community on a golf course on an island off the coast of South Carolina, they never noticed that there were no hose bibs at the exterior of the houses, they are not allowed to use a garden hose they are not permitted to plant anything, they are trying to sell now but it's a hard time for moving real estate. I wish Kathy much success.

  12. CindyKS 04/27/2012

    Wow. Someone is lucking out getting that garden. I saw a house advertisement once that stressed how beautiful the garden was and have always regreted not going to view the home in person. And, I am sure that Kathy will enjoy whatever gardening opportunites there are in her new home. Maybe a community garden? Or, using more exotic plants in pots? Regarless, I am sure that she will continue to share her skills in creating beauty!!!!!

  13. valleygardener 04/27/2012

    It is a wonderful garden and happy memories are always with you. You can take divisions to your new home but maybe your new home needs its own personality reflected in the garden. I say embrace new garden opportunities. Create a new space that shows who you are now. Your retirement home garden can be the amazing sequel in your gardening history. I realize it is hard to leave but the pluses outweigh the minuses. Happy New Home and Garden!

  14. kuszler 04/28/2012

    I wanted all to know that we are leaving this home because it is more work than we care to give as we get older. This is a 70 year old 2 story house (with basement), long driveway to shovel and too much lawn to cut. We are going to a beautiful 10 year old house in a 55+ community. It's a ranch style with no basement and has just enough property to allow me to create a great smaller garden. I actually completely landscaped the house next door as it belongs to an old friend of mine, so I knew in advance that I could create a great garden here.

    I was sad about leaving this garden until we found this new house. Now I feel good about leaving it to someone else. I am looking excitedly toward a new life and a new garden.

    Thanks for all your great comments.

  15. terieLR 04/28/2012

    Kathy and husband, All my best to you. I have often thought about which perennials we would narrow down to a smaller lot (when the time comes) and I'm sure you have a plan after seeing how much labor went into your landscaping. Blessings.

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