Garden Photo of the Day

Return to Zita’s Garden

Revisiting a beautiful garden as it matures

garden beds with pink, purple, and yellow flowers

Today we’re in Evanston, Illinois (just outside Chicago), visiting with Zita Swindells.

A few years back I sent in pictures of my postconstruction garden (Surviving Construction in the Garden)—nice bones, but a bit bare. Since then I have retired, spent quite a lot of time in pandemic lockdown, and turned to the garden as sanctuary. I have created a bed bordering the patio, added another seating area, squeezed in more raised beds for vegetables (even in the sunny alley parking spot next to my garage), and added a rain garden filled with natives in a low area of the yard that floods every year (sadly, not this year—heat and drought seem to be becoming the norm).

brick garden path cutting through beds and leading to a patioMy lovely neighbor brought over her old dog kennel panels and helped me put up the temporary fences you see below to protect at least some of my perennials from our plague of rabbits. But along with the rabbits, chipmunks, and squirrels, who eat my crops and perennials, are the butterflies, bees, birds, and all the other pollinators providing constant movement and color in the garden. It is a grand tapestry and has certainly been a haven for me.

garden beds with pink, purple, and yellow flowersIn the foreground is Amsonia hubrichtii (Zones 5–8) on the left, with Calamintha nepeta (Zones 5–9). Behind them is Allium ‘Millenium’ (Zones 5–9) covered with flowers.

densely planted garden bed with bright yellow and dark purple flowersBright yellow Rudbeckia laciniata ‘Herbstonne’ (Zones 3–9) pairs beautifully with dark Buddleia ‘Miss Molly’ (Zones 5–9) and Monarda ‘Raspberry Wine’ (Zones 5–9).

close up of bright pink roses with other shrubs and perennialsKnockout roses (Rosa ‘Radrazz’, Zones 5–9) shine in front of a dwarf weeping ‘Ruby Falls’ redbud (Cercis canadensis ‘Ruby Falls’ Zones 5–9).

close up of red canna lilies next to pink Joe Pye weedRed canna lilies (Canna indica, Zones 8–1o or as a tender bulb) and Joe Pye weed (Eutrochium purpureum, Zones 4–9) in the rain garden.


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  1. User avater
    treasuresmom 09/14/2022

    So very lovely.

  2. User avater
    simplesue 09/14/2022

    You sure have some impressive perennial beds in your garden in spite of challenges you mentioned.
    Not as easy to do as one might imagine, I know, I've tried without much success.
    Love the brick path, the seating area...a wonderful garden to sit in and enjoy the sights and smells.

  3. [email protected] 09/14/2022

    Thanks for showing your pretty garden. Every time I see a great planting of Joe Pye weed, I wonder why I have never grown it. I am trying to establish a rain garden area, as well, and we usually get plenty of rain here in the PNW in the winter, but these days, I'm not sure we can count on anything, weather-wise.
    I do wonder why there has been such a drop-off of comments for these postings. One of my favorite aspects is reading others' comments and compliments!

    1. CTpat 09/14/2022

      I don't know about others, but my GPOD emails are suddenly coming at 4:30 or later, which could account for the drop off in comments. People just haven't seen the post. I like the comments, too, even though I don't usually comment myself.

      1. User avater
        treasuresmom 09/15/2022

        I stopped getting them a little over a month ago. I still don't get them.

        1. User avater
          treasuresmom 09/15/2022

          I just looked back in my deleted emails & the last one I received was on August 2

  4. wittyone 09/14/2022

    Oh this is just beautiful. I generally don't like neat and tidy gardens but your neatness is counteracted by your gorgeous large masses of blooming perennials. They all look so happy and healthy. You've got enough there to spare bit here and there to the rabbits, squirrels and chipmunks. And of course you must have to fight you way through all the bees, butterflies and birds. What a lovely place to sit in that swing and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

  5. btucker9675 09/14/2022

    What a pretty garden! To me, it's a perfect balance of neatness and naturalness - completely charming. Your pandemic time in the garden has certainly paid off. Thank you for sharing!

  6. sheila_schultz 09/15/2022

    Lovely gardens filled with masses of beautiful textures and color. They are wonderful!

  7. irpriver 08/01/2023

    Your garden is lovely; thank you for sharing it. When I see a particularly impressive Joe Pye weed crop, I always regret that I've never tried growing it myself. Even though it often rains a lot in the Pacific Northwest throughout the winter, I am not confident in establishing a rain garden this year.

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