Garden Photo of the Day

Turning a Problem Into a Feature

Repurposing a wishing well into a planter

small garden patio with black table set

Today we’re visiting Kathleen Hooper’s garden.

When my family and I moved from two acres in Connecticut to our Winnetka, Illinois (near Chicago) house, I inherited a small landscaped yard. My plan was to turn the space into a garden where my family and friends could enjoy sitting around the fire and dining outdoors. There was hardscaping I could work with, but there was also a fake wishing well that I planned to remove. With too much to do in the first year, I decided removing the wishing well would have to wait, and so I used it as a planter.

Seven years later, that problem has turned into a fun part of the garden that divides the two areas, making the space feel bigger and more lush. With lots of mature shade trees, the water well is in partial shade, and I filled it with well-draining potting soil.

Over the years I’ve planted many combinations of plants. This year is one of my favorites, with a purple/green/white color scheme featuring Colocasia esculenta ‘Black Magic’ (Zones 8–11 or as an annual), Lysimachia nummularia (Zones 3–9), Hosta ‘Curly Fries’ (Zones 3–9), Begonia semperflorens (Zones 10–11 or as an annual), Strobilanthes dyerianus (Zones 8–10 or as an annual), Tradescantia pallida (Zones 7–10 or as an annual), and Alternanthera ficoidea (Zone 10 or as an annual).

Throughout the season there has been interest. As the Colocasia established, the Hosta bloomed with lovely purple and white-striped flowers. The Lysimachia overwintered in the water well and returned falling over the stone and softening it. I love the way the Tradescantia pokes through the Lysimachia contrasting with texture and color. I like to have art on my garden, and I thought the ceramic green birdhouse was a fun addition.

What started as a problem has turned into a much-loved part of my garden!

container planting with lime green foliage spilling overThe wishing well now overflows with golden Lysimachia!

small garden patio with black table setI love the way the Lysimachia foliage glows in contrast to the surrounding foliage and dark patio furniture.

plant with huge dark leavesColocasia ‘Black Magic’ living up to the name with wonderfully richly colored leaves.

dark foliage paired with light foliageDark and golden foliage growing together is always a winning combination.

plant with light pink flowers and curly foliageHosta ‘Curly Fries’ has narrow, waved foliage.

garden full of flowersThis wide view shows how the wishing-well-turned-planter fits into the larger, beautiful, landscape.

hosta flowersHostas are usually grown for the foliage, but many varieties have beautiful flowers as well. These are very elegant.

garden planter full of foliage plantsThe whole planter, with all the tropicals at their summer peak, looks stunning.

If you want to see more of Kathleen’s garden, check out her instagram:


Have a garden you’d like to share?

Have photos to share? We’d love to see your garden, a particular collection of plants you love, or a wonderful garden you had the chance to visit!

To submit, send 5-10 photos to [email protected] along with some information about the plants in the pictures and where you took the photos. We’d love to hear where you are located, how long you’ve been gardening, successes you are proud of, failures you learned from, hopes for the future, favorite plants, or funny stories from your garden.

If you want to send photos in separate emails to the GPOD email box that is just fine.

Have a mobile phone? Tag your photos on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter with #FineGardening!

You don’t have to be a professional garden photographer – check out our garden photography tips!

Do you receive the GPOD by email yet? Sign up here.

View Comments


  1. User avater
    simplesue 09/28/2021

    I really like your garden- great place to sit around the fire, or eat at the table.
    The old wishing well is the highlight of the garden with all the Creeping Jenny an big tropical Elephant Ears plant.
    Your garden has a nice established look, were everything fits together nicely as if nature planned it.

  2. User avater
    treasuresmom 09/28/2021

    Love your use of foliage. But really love the white dahlia.

  3. User avater
    user-7007816 09/28/2021

    My wife would say you turned a lemon into lemonade.

  4. JohnsonofMillCreek 09/28/2021

    What lovely, natural garden. And you have turned that fake wishing well into a focal point and divider. Nice! I am a Pacific NW gardener who loves seeing what grows in other parts of the USA. Thank you for sharing your garden.

  5. btucker9675 09/28/2021

    Love your garden! How peaceful it must be to sit at that table near the "well" for a cup of tea or a glass of wine.

  6. mrrey214 10/14/2021

    Love your garden. it is very beautiful. thank you for sharing.

Log in or create an account to post a comment.

Related Articles

The Latest