Grandma inspiration for ‘Deb’s magic’
Donna Vickroy firstname.lastname@example.org | (708) 633-5982 July 6, 2011 10:36PM
Debbie Dramasino in her garden at her home in Tinley Park, Illinois, Tuesday, June, 14, 2011. | Joseph P. Meier~Sun-Times Media
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Updated: January 23, 2012 2:52AM
It’s not hard to find the Dramisino residence in Tinley Park.
Just look for the front lawn awash in color.
Pinks, purples, reds and yellows seem to dance upon a green backdrop while welcoming visitors and tempting passersby to pause in wonder.
Growing up in Chicago’s Hegewisch community, Debbie Dramisino used to admire her grandmother’s beautiful flower garden.
“The whole front yard would be filled with morning glories, sunflowers, daisies and apple trees,” Debbie said. “It was a sight many people admired.”
Debbie’s grandmother, Rose Pitlik, taught her how to plant from seed.
Each summer, Debbie tries to replicate the memory.
Her front yard is filled with daylilies, roses, mums and hostas.
There are also 45 flats of annuals.
“I want it to be nice and full and crowded,” she said.
And she wants it to be that way all summer.
Her grandmother would have to wait until August to realize her seed-started garden’s full beauty. Debbie wants color as soon as the weather breaks.
Annuals, such as petunias and geraniums, bring instant color while she waits for the perennials, including sweet William and star of Persia, to bloom.
“The star of Persia are my favorite, but they’re very invasive,” she said. “I have to keep pulling them back or they’d take over the entire yard.”
Getting things up and running takes about three weeks each spring, she said. After that, it’s just routine maintenance: weeding, dead-heading, watering and replacing any plants that die.
This year, she said, the heavy rainfall has been a blessing.
“We don’t have in-ground sprinklers, so everything must be watered by a hose,” she said. “But I like to do it. It’s relaxing.”
February’s blizzard took a toll on her ornamental grasses.
“I really like them, the contrast they provide,” she said. So she replaced them.
Gardening is an ongoing labor of love, not a pastime for the taskmasters among us.
As she scans the garden, which forms the perimeter of her front lawn, Debbie points out places in need of color.
“See that bare spot?” she asked. Of course, I have no idea what she’s referring to.
“Used to have a bush there. The blizzard killed it. I need to fill that in,” she said.
Onlookers only see the big picture; the gardener can’t help but focus on the details. Among those incidentals are the sentimental value of many of their plants.
The giant hostas got their start more than 50 years ago.
“They came from my mother-in-law’s house in Roseland,” she said. “She gave me a small cutting to start with.”
Today, that cutting has spread into several full-blown plants.
“I keep them in her memory,” Debbie said. “She passed away last summer.”
She also keeps a crabapple tree on the side of the house, in memory of her grandmother, who died 10 years ago.
After she married her husband, John, the couple moved to Lynwood.
Nine years ago, around the Fourth of July, they moved into a new home in Tinley Park. The yard was a blank canvas.
She had a professional landscaper put in daylilies and some roses. The rest she did herself.
“I’ve been working on it little by little,” she said. “Each year, I add more.”
Now, neighbors compliment her flowers and her 19-year-old son’s friends call their home “the flower house.”
John Dramisino calls it “Deb’s magic.”
She tries to time things so that something is always in bloom. The 37 mum plants kick in later in the summer.
She surrounds the display with marigolds to keep the rabbits at bay.
Sprinkled throughout the blooms are statues of rabbits, snails and a bulldog.
Ginger, the family’s real bulldog, likes to smell the flowers, Debbie said.
In addition to being born with a green thumb, Debbie has always liked to decorate. She does it up big in the fall, filling the yard with scarecrows, and at Christmas, blanketing the house with festive decor.
During the 1980s, Debbie was hired by several local restaurants to care for their house plants.
“That was back when restaurants had real plants,” she said. “At one point, I had 17 restaurants that I tended to.”
Today, she and John own Power Process Resources, a conveyer components company. They also do some consulting.