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2017 Kane County Chronicle Best of the Fox

Phelan: Transforming yard into a white-and-blue paradise

Published: Thursday, June 13, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

People often ask me about how I got my job writing for the Kane County Chronicle.

Here’s the story: I wanted to write for the Chronicle because I didn’t think they had enough young voices. I sent in a cover letter about how I wanted to write for the paper and how I thought including young writers would be good for the community. I also included two pieces so that they were aware that this new writer could, in fact, write. One piece was on how it bothers me when people at my school don’t say the Pledge of Allegiance, and the other was about how much I like gardening.

At the time, I was only a novice gardener. I had taken care of certain plants around my house for a year of two, and allowed my mom to do every other lawn care job when I got bored.

This summer, I’ve reapplied myself to keeping my yard in shape. I think it’s partly to distract myself from the horror of having to buy dorm furniture, take placement tests and begin packing for college, and also because I want everything to be perfect for my graduation party. Both of these upcoming events – college and the grad party – have transformed our yard into a white-and-blue paradise. I can’t think of a lovelier or more time-consuming way to show my Saint Mary’s Belles pride than have every flower represent my school colors. The epitome of my procrasinatory vision will be the letters SMC in white petunias or another annual, spelled out on a blue background of smaller flowers. 

For anyone who’s even more of a novice gardener than I used to be, I have a few tips that I totally stole from my mother. Plant hostas as ground covering. They look great, spread great and require minimal effort. Another suggestion of mine (hers) is to plant knockout rosebushes, her “favorite plant ever, ever, ever.” These also require minimal effort but make it look like someone has been out there every day, delicately tending to the roses. Ours take up nearly four or five feet of space along the fence and are such a shocking pink that I even uploaded a picture of them to Instagram a few days ago. Plus, the color stays for months. 

My mother’s suggestions on flower colors are simple – pick one or two theme colors every year and avoid yellow at all costs. From far away, any yellow flower can look like a dandelion invasion. You can imagine the difficulty our family faced when we had to throw my sister an Iowa Hawkeyes-themed grad party three years ago. 

Not only does working in the yard make it look beautiful but it also helps me spend time with my mother and reduce stress. Next year, I may be off taking summer classes or studying abroad on faraway continents, but everything I plant and work on will be here for years to come. Well, at least the perennials. 

• Courtney Phelan just graduated from Geneva High School. She is an outgoing and energetic young writer who likes to swim, read and participate in general teenage activities. She can be contacted at

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