moves fast along Lake Drive. A few twists and turns try to slow down
the hustle and bustle of the city and suburb dwellers, and though many
speed by, overlooking the natural beauty of the area’s landscape,
few have missed a pink-trimmed 1928 Italian style home. The stately
architectural presence comes to life with its colorful trim and is
accentuated with numerous topiaries and a manicured landscape. Shirley
Kostich is an unabashed garden lover, and from front to back, her
landscape design brings this home alive.
Friends, family and critters of all
shapes and sizes are welcome to enjoy Kostich’s garden. No matter
the season, she complements her beautiful home with the perfect
cultured landscape, but in the summer flowers abound, and it is a
feast for the senses.
garden is a peaceful space you can be in and be in nature,"
Kostich says. "In the middle of the bustling city, you can have a
different existence within that space. For me it is a spiritual
retreat, something I can create for myself, my friends, my family and
nature’s critters," she says.
For the front yard, Kostich tries to
keep things simple. In keeping with the Italian architecture, she
takes a more formal approach. She is guided by the home’s pink trim
and finds yellow, pink and white flowers to be the best choices, along
with numerous topiaries. Sculpted junipers and 100-year-old silver
maples dominate the landscape, acknowledging the history of the home.
A 20-year-old deep purple clematis and
a honeysuckle vine with predominantly pink flowers add touches of
interest and attract some beautiful visitors, such as hummingbirds and
butterflies. Watch your step as well-placed chipmunk feeding stations
are kept full for her friend, Chippy.
A pink mandevilla climbs the side of
the house to the roof, while purple clematis climbs around the window.
Yellow and pink climbing rose bushes join in the upward motion, while
birdhouses fill the spaces in between. The pink rose bush has even
been home to a nest of baby finches. As the abundant flowers bloom,
grow and climb around to the back of the house, a statue of Venus,
wire cats and other decorative objects find a home amidst the stems
and vines. Frogs, bunnies, birdhouses, bird feeders and statues of
saints help bless the garden and inspire growth. The hand-sized
president clematis is evidence of how blessed this garden is.
Kostich backyard is a series of colorful vignettes from which
to take in the visual feast and enjoy nature.
The backyard is scalloped with numerous
gardens, each with its own theme and floral identity. One in
particular is a garden dug as a birthday gift from her son. A
hydrangea vine, honeysuckle vine, climbing rose bush and dahlias the
size of dinner plates fill the space along with an ivy-covered fence
and a few frogs and lizards. An herb garden is also part of this area.
It infuses the floral-scented air with aromas of lavender, thyme,
sage, chives, basil and various kinds of mint.
A charming garden house stands tall and
pink as an eye-catching element surrounded by the blooming garden.
Home to a collection of birdhouses as well as a little work space, it
serves as one of the many focal points in the heart of the backyard. A
fountain from Florence, Italy, with its white and pink floral and
hummingbird design is another key feature. A pool of pink begonias
surrounds the base and the pink flamingo sprinkler stands nearby. A
lilac tree, weeping larch, 100-year-old blue spruce, forsythia-covered
fence and a special cactus propagated for use in northern climates
flourish from year to year, making their identifiable mark on the
A patio area with an arched entry
covered in vines is the perfect hideaway for guests to relax on a
summer night. At night they sit within the lush space with more than
500 white lights twinkling all around, while by day they are sure to
see something new from every angle. Old fences from New Orleans,
numerous terra cotta pots, a raspberry patch and garden décor such as
armadillos, tea cups, cats and frogs playing instruments live among
Bunnies, squirrels, chipmunks,
cardinals, goldfinches, wrens, woodpeckers, orioles and even a
red-winged blackbird, a hawk and some doves have passed through the
Kostich garden. The critters are as impressed as friends and family by
the plethora of ivy, roses, Virginia blue bells, clematis and numerous
Kostich works toward a balance of
annuals and perennials and does all the potting herself. "The
color comes from the annuals because the perennials come and go. The
June garden looks different from the July and August gardens,"
she says. "It gets bigger and bigger until it is ready to
burst." With more than 100 and sometimes 200 different pots,
Kostich is plenty busy in the garden.
cotta pots of all shapes and sizes circle the backyard patio.
A fountain from Florence, Italy, is surrounded by begonias.
"When we moved in 25 years ago
there was not one thing growing," she says. "There was grass
and a fence. It has taken me 25 years to design it, and it is a work
in progress. I redo it every year; it never has been the same way
For Kostich, one of the secrets to a
good garden is to have things climbing high, growing low and cascading
to make your eye go everywhere. "Your eyes should be dancing and
racing from one movement to another, just like a symphony."