Garden Photo of the Day

Surviving Construction in the Garden

A garden reborn, better than ever

Yellow trillium

Today’s photos come from Zita Swindells.

I live in Evanston, Illinois, just outside Chicago, and have been gardening for about 25 years. I try to incorporate many natives into the garden. I love to see the yard filled with the movement of birds and butterflies (alas, also squirrels, chipmunks, and rabbits).

These first few photos are of my front shade garden. I adore the spring ephemerals in this garden, especially the trilliums, wood anemones, and bleeding hearts.

Laceleaf dwarf Japanese mapleLaceleaf dwarf Japanese maple (Acer palmatum, Zones 5–9) and Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’ (Zones 5–9)

Wood anemonesWood anemones (Anemone sylvestris, Zones 3–7) and Tradescantia virginiana (Zones 4–9)

Yellow trilliumYellow trillium (Trillium luteum, Zones 4–8)

I have also included below some before, during, and after photos of the backyard, which show the original garden, the start of construction for our room addition (it got much worse than the picture shows), and the new garden (about two years old now). The brick paths form borders for the beds, so there is less edging than in the old garden, but the weeds just love growing between the bricks! I think I’ve moved every plant in the big bed and dug a new bed in my floodplain at the back of the yard, where many of my natives will reside. So much for trying to have a more manageable space as I enter my 70s!

The original garden, before construction started.

More of the preconstruction garden.

Start of construction

apple treeA few survivors from the old garden—an apple tree, Japanese maple, a neighbor’s thuggish Euonymus enveloping the fence, and a climbing rose (‘Zephirine Drouhin’) excavated from under a mountain of debris.

The new gardens are full of flowers for visiting pollinators.

A brick path provides crisp edging for the new garden.

Limelight hydrangeaLimelight hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight’ Zones 3–7) and canna lilies, which the hummingbirds love.


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View Comments


  1. User avater
    meander_michaele 10/14/2019

    Your brick pathway/edging looks awesome...definitely requiring time and $$ to put in place but the results are very pleasing. But, then again, after enduring the wreaking of backyard havoc that your addition put you through, installing the edging was probably like the final dab of icing on the cake. Your front shade garden is beautiful and that chartreusy cloud of Japanese Forest grass is thoroughly captivating. It's almost embarrassing how much I love that stuff!

  2. Pollen 10/14/2019

    WOWIE- Great recovery job. Wonderful Photo's to follow your explaination of construction. Please share more next spring as your plantings return. Just delightful brick pathways, just delightful.

  3. btucker9675 10/14/2019

    Your gardens are beautiful - both before and after! We will be having a pool put in starting in a few weeks and I know the destruction will be difficult to deal with - just have to keep my eyes on the prize! Fortunately, just a few things to move out of the danger zone. Big brick walkway fan here, too! Your hard work has more than paid off.

  4. User avater
    simplesue 10/14/2019

    Wow I love it! Great design. Nothing like heavy equipment to come in and make magic happen! I really like your garden- I'm inspired!

    1. User avater
      simplesue 10/14/2019

      ps...I just followed you on Pinterest!

  5. NewberryNikki 10/14/2019

    I love your gardens and walkway. If I were you I’d be strolling through your garden all the time Taking photos and looking for new blossoms. I particularly love your pollinator garden! So important!! Thanks for sharing.

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