By Olivia DeSmit
Patricia Mills of Morgan Park is celebrating placing in one of the Chicago Bungalow Association’s contest categories this summer. Mills, who had previously never entered a gardening contest, won runner-up in the rear/side garden category.
“I’m not the type to show off, I just garden for myself,” she said. “My daughter convinced me to enter.” And after placing in the contest, she said, many more people are already asking her to enter next year. She extends her thanks to those who voted for her this year.
While her side garden is many years in the making, it changes at least a little every year. “Every year I do something different — make a new walkway, close an old one, just something unusual. It all depends how it’s looking to me that year and what unusual plants and items I can find.”
Mills’ best-kept secret is rising early to find unique plants at County Fair. Some of her decorative items are found treasures as Mills enjoys upcycling. “I may find something someone doesn’t want on the curb and figure out how to use it,” she said. “That’s how I get some of my inspiration.”
In addition to the variety of flowers, including turtle head, goose neck, thistle and angel’s trumpet, Mills enjoys creating fairy gardens. And like her overall approach to her garden, she likes them to be unique. She has one fairy garden that’s sports-themed and another that’s contained within an old fish tank. “They’re just a little bit different than what people typically do,” she said.
In addition to her unique flair for fairy gardens, Mills focuses on taking care of pollinators, too. “You have to have something for every little insect or animal,” she said. “I don’t cut anything down until it goes to seed to ensure I’m taking care of the creatures too.”