Garden Photo of the Day

Townhome Living With Flowers

Over-the-top beauty in a tiny space

Today we’re visiting Shelly Zylstra, who has created an incredible garden at her townhome in Tinley Park, Illinois.

If you’ve ever thought you’d like to have an amazing garden but don’t think you have the space for it, this GPOD is for you! Shelly has transformed the deck and surrounding area at her townhome into a stunning and dramatic garden. Any spot where you can put a few containers can become a beautiful garden.

Shelly says that this is her fourth year putting together plantings outside her townhome, and she considers herself a flower addict.

Tall orange cannas (Canna hybrid, Zones 7–9 or as tender bulbs) and dark-leaved ‘Vertigo’ fountain grass (Pennisetum purpureum ‘Vertigo’, Zones 8–11 or as annual) bring height to the planting. Verbena ‘Whiteout’ (annual) and Petunia ‘Vista Snowdrift’ (annual) provide masses of white flowers. A dark coleus (annual) brings points of darker color, and parrot beak (Lotus bertholotii, annual) provides fernlike foliage. Trailing down from the containers are big swags of silver falls dichondra (Dichondra argentea ‘Silver Falls’, Zones 8–10 or as annual).

Combining very tall plants and long trailing ones multiplies the effect of these containers, filling the space with beauty.

Under the deck, more flowers and dramatic foliage make up the rest of the garden, and there’s a cozy seating area surrounded by blooms.

One last shot of the townhome garden. Can you imagine how beautiful this community would be if everyone gardened like this?


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View Comments


  1. Carolyn3134 09/10/2020

    Absolutely lovely! What a great addiction to have!

  2. User avater
    meander_michaele 09/10/2020

    Your neighbors up and down the line must look at your amazing flower/plant display with awe and amazement. I also love the addition of the birdhouses lining your deck support beams.

  3. sandyprowse 09/10/2020

    Who would have thought to put the large cannas as you have done, in container gardening and they are so successful and make a real statement. Fantastic! Love your work. Well done.

  4. CTpat 09/10/2020

    Wow, what a great example of what can be done in a very small space! I use cannas in pots, too, but on stumps after we had to cut down two large trees. Have you used the dichondra for a while? Does it behave--grow well in one season? Or do you have to keep it growing indoors over the winter? It's new to me and nicely unusual.

  5. cheryl_c 09/10/2020

    I'm so glad you are in the end unit so your garden can wrap around the building - it makes it so much more beautiful! Great job. Adventurous designing! Excellent results. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Musette1 09/10/2020

    next Summer I'm going to drive over to Tinley Park and ogle your garden! I hope your neighbors appreciate all that beauty! I sure do.

  7. User avater
    treasuresmom 09/10/2020

    Just amazing!

  8. User avater
    cynthia2020 09/10/2020

    Shelly - I have never seen such masterful floral impact on a balcony!!! The height plus the trailing plus the fullness of the combination is really something. Thank you for sharing your creativity and hard work.

  9. User avater
    simplesue 09/10/2020

    You really created a super little paradise in such a small space and so well designed!
    Love it!

  10. alicefleurkens 09/10/2020

    Shelley. I think your creation is fabulous. You also are an inspiration for anyone that does not have not have much space to garden and for your neighbours, as one of my neighbours inspired me some 43 years ago.

  11. katherine_8 09/10/2020

    Shelly, you are a gardening wizard!! I am so impressed!! The selection of plants, with varying heights, the colours and leaf shapes.....absolutely brilliant!! I hope that some of your neighbours have followed your excellent example and adorned their homes with beauty as you have. Congratulations!! :)

  12. User avater
    bdowen 09/10/2020

    What a beautiful and welcoming entrance to your home, probably a highlight on anyone’s walks through your neighborhood. Imagine if this gardening idea caught on...

  13. btucker9675 09/10/2020

    Fabulous! I would hope your neighbors would be inspired to garden their areas as well... They would definitely know who to ask for help!

  14. Maggieat11 09/10/2020

    Awesome use of space and Dynamics. Eye-catching and Fab!

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