Backyard Oasis in Morgan Park

By Kristin Boza

Daphne and Martin bought their Morgan Park home in 2011. At the time, the home had one evergreen bush in the front yard, and some grass and a basketball court in the back. Now, thanks to Daphne’s planning and dedication, the yard is a blooming oasis of flowers and plants where the family enjoys spending quality time surrounded by nature.

Daphne was pleased with the home’s simple yard when they moved in, for it gave her an utterly blank canvas to design the landscape as she wanted.

“My dad, who passed away in 2002, was my inspiration for the yard,” Daphne said. “He was a gardener and he had a beautiful yard and vegetable garden. I was not into gardening at the time and I couldn’t understand why he would plant so many flowers.” But Daphne herself caught the gardening bug when her father encouraged her to design an island for her yard in a previous home. “After everything [in the first home] started growing, it was beautiful and I was hooked from that point on,” she said. “I know he is smiling down at me and very pleased.”

Daphne and Martin’s yard is filled with a wide variety of trees, flowers, grasses, ground cover and annuals in addition to a large garage built on the former basketball court. Daphne spends 15 to 20 hours a week maintaining the space, which includes about an hour and a half of watering each day. “I do take my time when I water, pulling up weeds and snipping this and that as I go,” she said. “It takes a while, but if it’s something you enjoy, you don’t mind the work.”

Her best advice for up-and-coming gardeners is to walk around and visit local gardens and nurseries, talking and asking questions along the way. “Definitely visit local nurseries for advice and not the big box stores,” Daphne said. “Most employees at big box stores don’t have the training that the people in the nurseries do. Also, subscribe to free gardening publications, as you can get a lot of education and ideas from them.” And don’t worry if some plants don’t make it, as it’s bound to happen. “I’m very DIY, and it’s all about trial and error,” she said.

Daphne also finds ideas from Pinterest and Houzz.com, a home design website. “I love coming home and sitting in my backyard enjoying my plants. I find it very relaxing after a long day at work,” Daphne said. “This is a complete transformation from where it started and I’m very happy with the results. I did not plan the way the yard turned out, I just buy the plants and plant them. I often purchase plants and have no idea where they are going; when you get to this point, you know you are a gardener and you’re addicted!”