Garden Photo of the Day

READER PHOTOS! Susan & Richard’s Japanese tea garden in Illinois

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Susan Wawrzynowicz

Today’s photos are from Susan and Richard Wawrzynowicz in Chicago, Illinois. Susan says, “We are located in the heart of the city. We have lived here for about 14 years and after years of various room by room remodeling projects, we decided on a serious garden makeover inspired by our visits to gardens in Kyoto, Japan.

***BEFORE***This photo shows the original garden (photo taken from the 3rd floor). This is basically how the garden looked for 18 years.
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Susan Wawrzynowicz

“We hired a landscape architect and with his expertise and our love of Kyoto gardens, we created our own “Asian tea garden.” We used bamboo for two purposes: for a wall feature and for supporting climbing hydrangeas and sweet autumn clematis. We also incorporated a Japanese maple, a Japanese sedge, hostas, and a Hinoki false cypress (not pictured).

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Susan Wawrzynowicz

“The water feature was also inspired by our trip to Kyoto. We incorporated a rain chain that circulates water into the stone water vessel, down to a reservoir, and then up the bamboo and back to the vessel. Birds love to sit on the edge for cool drinks. The lights at night create a special oasis.”

Wow, Susan, so pretty! It must be even more wonderful in the evening. Thanks for sharing!

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Susan Wawrzynowicz
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Susan Wawrzynowicz
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Susan Wawrzynowicz
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Susan Wawrzynowicz
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Susan Wawrzynowicz
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Susan Wawrzynowicz
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Susan Wawrzynowicz
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Susan Wawrzynowicz

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  1. duckcovegardening 09/12/2012

    Your gardens are so lovely, and the bamboo adds an amazing element. I think your use of the bamboo to direct water to a rain chain is a great concept, and the sound would be so different from a regular fountain, much more melodic and soothing. I could see this idea being used even at the corner of a pergola or wherever there was an upright structure to direct the tubing for the water. Very clever, and your gardens are beautiful!!

  2. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 09/12/2012

    Great use of space. Love the use of the bamboo, especially in the arbor. The stone-covered water vessel is really cool.

  3. wGardens 09/12/2012

    The use of lighting is wonderful. Thanks for sharing!

  4. User avater
    meander_michaele 09/12/2012

    What a beautiful makeover...your first photo is literally picture perfect. I can see it being featured in Fine Gardening or some other prestigious publication. Thank you so much for including the before shot so we can more fully appreciate the dramatic transformation. You have made wonderful use of your space to create a world of serenity with that peaceful Asian tea garden aura. Great job!

  5. Beazel 09/12/2012

    What a charming and restful oasis in the midst of big-city bustle. Love the lighting and the wonderful diversity of texture you've achieved in the new garden. (Must find a way to incorporate a rain chain feature in my own garden. . .)

  6. joycedaffodilhill 09/12/2012

    Beautiful. An oasis in the middle of the city is always a wonderful space. Love all of the materials and they blend beautifully together. Enjoy a cup of coffee or a late night drink with a friend in this beautiful space. Thanks for sharing.

  7. pattyspencer 09/12/2012

    Less is more truly fits here. Really really pretty and restful looking. What a gem!

  8. annek 09/12/2012

    Peaceful and serene...the lighting is incredible and the clematis are lovely.

  9. tractor1 09/12/2012

    This must be the week of miniatures. That's a lovely garden created in a very small space. In the 3rd picture down I'm wondering if that's a living tree trunk or a hewn log used for effect. I know from my own experience that many city apartment buildings have these air shafts. However typically at the ground floor apartment level there'd be a grate, whereas the ground (typically paved) would only be accesible from the basement below for clean out. As to the many floors above there'd be many windows from which some toss trash into the air shaft. My memory of such space is they are typically dirty, smelly, and filled with trash and vermin... they were far from a safe place to sit let alone construct a garden. Anyone who remembers the Molly Goldberg sitcom from the '50s they'd know that the building's air shaft was the main communications conduit. For me this is an anomoly.

  10. sheila_schultz 09/12/2012

    What a hidden treasure... your neighbors must be overjoyed with the beautiful view you have given them!

  11. restofyourlife 09/12/2012

    Thank you all for your wonderful comments. We are thrilled to be able to share our ideas and our small oasis with you. Response to Tractor1: the tree trunk you see in the 3rd photo is indeed a live 60 foot spruce. The lower branches have been trimmed from time to time leaving a nice open area.

  12. tractor1 09/12/2012

    My goodness, that's quite an accomplishment getting a spruce tree to grow sixty feet tall in so confined a space and abuting a wall, where are its roots? And most types of spruce trees simply don't grow that tall even under ideal conditions. I have many Norway spruce growing here right out in the open that were planted fifty years ago but I doubt many are sixty feet tall.

  13. greengrowler 09/12/2012

    Absolutely WOW! What a stunning retreat - so much detail! The beauty of small spaces is one can really focus on elements appreciated close-up; the bamboo, rain chain, wall treatments, plantings, all so perfectly done. Definitely Zen calm to be enjoyed each day.....thanks so much for sharing, Susan & Richard - your beautiful hidden gem made my day!

  14. hkol880 11/15/2012

    In the 18th century, gardens remained a privilege reserved for the upper class. They were laid out more naturally, without any walls. Gardens of this century often contained shrubberies grottoes, pavilions, bridges.stump grinder

  15. tactywmef 07/01/2013

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