Monday, August 29, 2011

Meeting Shawna Coronado

When I pulled into her cul-de-sac in Warrenville, I knew which house was Shawna Coronado’s without even looking for the house number. Reflecting a landscaping style that is quickly gaining acceptance, there is no grass growing in her front yard. I knew I was about to meet a seriously eco-conscious gardener. Yet, “eco-conscious” does not even begin to describe Coronado; "recycling, native-plant-advocating, garden writing, community-building dynamo" might be more appropriate.

Besides having one of the most beautiful residential gardens I have ever seen, Shawna is a major voice in the gardening world. She is CEO of Mad 4 World Enterprises, a garden writer, on-air spokesperson, public speaker, and healthy lifestyle expert. I recently finished reading Shawna's book, Gardening Nude, and love how she breaks down "going green" into manageable steps with plans for addressing your health, lifestyle, use of resources, and community.
Gardening Nude, by Shawna Coronado

Let's get to the garden!
After moving to her Warrenville neighborhood, Shawna quickly installed a perennial garden in her parkway. "It was the first step in my addiction," said Shawna about the garden that served as a way to meet her new neighbors. "My neighbors started coming by, telling me I was not supposed to plant there. I said, 'Watch me!' Then we kept talking and got to know each other."
Shawna is most certainly a community builder. She's planted a drought-tolerant perennial bed, complete with benches for people to sit and rest upon, on the street side of her fence. And the neighborhood loves it. "People sit on the benches, read books, or just escape the hot sun out here," Shawna said as she gave me a tour of the community garden. "I've met lots of neighbors, and have gotten hugs, gifts, and plants from strangers!" She says the community garden has been her most influential, education-wise. People see what she is doing and are inspired to plant their own yards, which Shawna believes raises the economic value of the city.

Shawna's drought-tolerant community garden.

All this in the village easement. What a great way to improve a community!

This vertical garden in the backyard dresses up the fence, and saves two pallets from the landfill.

Shawna's front yard is an example of the potential of a grass-free space. She grows all kinds of vegetables here, many under the partial shade of a large crabapple tree. Basil, cabbage, kale, broccoli, and many other food-bearing plants thrive in these conditions, and look absolutely gorgeous. The front yard not only produces food for her family (and the local food pantry), it reduces rainwater runoff and supports wildlife.

Wouldn't you like to drink your morning coffee here? In the front yard?

Basil and cabbage thrive in a beautiful contrast of colors.

Shawna is just as sassy as her book title, and I'm glad to know her! Check out Shawna's blogs, The Casual Gardener, and Gardening Nude for great gardening and lifestyle tips.

"Like" Tina Koral Gardens on Facebook for more gardening info!


  1. Very pretty. Love the vertical garden, and the bench along the street. I would sit there and enjoy the garden, too!

  2. I've had the pleasure of being in Shawna's garden and everything you say is true. But the greater pleasure is getting to know Shawna as a person and I'm honored to call her "Friend."

  3. Thanks for stopping by, Kylee! And friends, visit Kylee's awesome blog at: