Resident Shares Her Gardening Passion and Grows Her Award-Winning Dahlias

She’s received ‘thank-you’ notes from passersby, showing appreciation for her beautification efforts. Lydia Marcelo, a resident of GreenFields of Geneva senior living community, lived on Lake Cook Road in Deerfield for more than 20 years. When she started seeking a hobby for her retirement years, she researched gardening and decided to give her green thumb a try. Thirty years later, she’s accrued dozens of awards from local, state, and even national botanical clubs and organizations for her stunning blossoms, with a specialty in dahlias.

For years, while still living in Deerfield, Lydia recalled, she’d receive notes from people driving past her home. “Our street was busy, and my garden entertained people when they were in traffic,” she said. ‘They appreciated the beautiful flowers. Once I even received a jar of honey, thanking me for my native plants. It was from someone who had beehives, and he appreciated my plants supporting pollinators.”

Lydia and her husband Priscillo moved to GreenFields of Geneva ten years ago. She brought her joy of brightening other peoples’ worlds along with her. Lydia has a large bed in the resident garden area, growing her legendary and award-winning dahlias, as well as snapdragons, cosmos, phlox and more. She also grows tomatoes, okra and squash. 

Lydia takes great pleasure in creating bouquets for her fellow residents’ birthdays. “I always include a funny card, too,” she said. “It makes me happy to make other people happy, especially on birthdays.”

Enjoying other peoples’ enjoyment, Lydia also participates on the resident outreach committee at GreenFields. In that capacity, she’s part of a team helping new residents become acquainted and comfortable in their new homes. She is eager for everyone to feel the same joy that she and her husband do in their home at GreenFields. “It’s so beautiful here. We like everything about it: the staff, the activities, everything. It’s worry-free,” she said. “At first, my husband had been resistant to moving to a senior living community. The day after we moved here, he woke me up at 3 a.m. to say ‘thank you.' We’re both so happy here.”

Read the story as it appears in Daily Herald.