Neighbor Wins Driehaus Award for Home Landscape  

By Kristin Boza 

Living in Beverly/Morgan Park, we know what a special place this is. Incredible architecture and carefully crafted landscaping are prominent in our community. 

One neighborhood resident has been singled out for his landscaping efforts. Tommie Harris earned the Chicago Bungalow Association’s 15th Annual Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Bungalow Award in Landscape Design. Harris has spent years perfecting the lushness of his lawn and the incredibly large plants that dot his yard’s perimeter.  

“The key is fertilizing early,” Harris said. “I fertilize the lawn in March, and I usually don’t have to do it again in the season. I apply a healthy dose of it to give it a good start to spring.” 

Harris, a retired Chicago police officer, began his landscaping adventure as a way to promote some privacy in his yard. He cultivates many of his plants inside during the winter to ensure they grow strong when the weather cooperates in the spring and summer. 

“I pull up my bulbs in the winter to make sure they stay warm,” Harris said. “I really think that is what helped my perennials grow to the size that they are — which is quite large!” 

While local wildlife, from bugs to bunnies to coyotes, often find solace in his garden, Harris takes the time to make sure they don’t destroy his hard work. “I actually remove beetles by hand to make sure they are gone for good. Spraying the leaves with a pest killer is bad for the plant, so I take the extra step to remove bugs that could kill the garden,” he said.  

Overall, Harris spends a lot of time in his yard paradise, making sure each plant is properly watered and has the nutrients it needs to thrive. Aside from the fun he’s having in the garden, Harris was excited to earn the Driehaus Award to meet other winners. “There was a reception for all of the winners, and it was incredible to meet with other bungalow owners and hear their stories,” Harris said. “I met people from all over the city who did different projects on their homes, and we shared a lot of great tips as well.’ 

According to the Driehaus Foundation, there are an estimated 80,000 Chicago bungalows that represent one-third of the city’s single-family housing stock. Chicago developed the Chicago Bungalow Association (CBA) in 2000 to ensure the preservation of this type of home; additionally, the CBA encouraged the renovation and preservation of more than 20,000 bungalows since its inception.  

In late 2019, seven Driehaus Award winners were announced and each won a cash prize of $1,000 and a handcrafted copper plaque made by local artisan Frank Glapa of FMG Design. Seven honorable mentions earned a $250 cash prize and plaque.  

Check out Harris’ garden, and all of the other nominated projects, at CBA is currently accepting applications for the 2020 Driehaus Awards; nominate yourself or a neighbor at 





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, 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!”