Over the years, Rachael Okello has built and rebuilt her garden, each time making it better. The version of her home garden she welcomes us to is a year old.
For more than 15 years, greening her little corner in the Spring Valley home has been her labour of love.
"I've done this garden in bits and pieces. There are old trees planted when the house was constructed over 15 years ago. But the garden has been a work in progress," she says.
Her latest addition is the drought-resistant Pemba grass she planted in April to replace paspalum grass. Deciding to uproot the paspalum grass was not easy, but because of the high maintenance cost, Ms Okello says she had to do it.
When the gate opens, we are welcomed by her first mini garden in her front yard. The first part of Rachael's garden is covered with monsteras, philodendrons, the Ti plant, Joseph's coat, and hydrangeas.
At the entrance to her house are monsteras and sago palms that provide lush foliage, acting as a neutraliser to the concrete wall and pavement.
"When we built the perimeter wall, we had to redo all the plants on the right side. Now, along the wall are plants that give it a dash of yellow, red, green, and white," says Ms Okello of the yellow golden shrimp plant, the blood leaf plant, the African lily, and the dwarf umbrella plant, among others found along the wall.
"I designed my own garden. I would go to different places and pick new ideas. The garden is, however, still in its infancy stage. I have plants at the edge of the property and left the middle space for children to play football. Also, if I have a party, there is enough space in the middle for a tent," says the mother of four.
In her backyard is her guest receiving bay, where she has built a gazebo and planted fruit trees. She has philodendrons growing under travellers palms.
"Palm trees are good for driveways and can be planted closer to the house because they don't shed leaves or kill grass underneath. They give a green cover and attract birds," Ms Okello says.
At the furthest edge of her garden, she has installed a waterfall that gives the garden a forest vibe. Surrounding the waterfall are anthuriums, polka dot begonias, white garland lilies, and the Kimberly queen fern.
"The waterfall is soothing; it's just paradise!" She says.
For Ms Okello, a gardener is never done with gardening.
"Gardening is a work in progress. It is always continuous. The dry season comes, and you have to uproot dead plants and replant during the rainy season," Ms Okello says.
Her garden is not short of fruit trees either, with her avocado, pawpaw, and apple fruit trees making it an all-purpose garden. She also has a kitchen garden with tomatoes, spinach, and sukuma wiki (kales).
"For a long time my focus was on flowers and grass, but with all the stuff we read about the use of chemicals on vegetables, I thought I should plant my own. Now my focus is on my vegetable garden, although we compete with the birds on who eats the most sukuma," says the 46-year-old.
Some of her best flowers are the purple allamanda flower, a potted bougainvillaea, sweet alyssum, golden shrimp, and the calliandra plant.
Ms Okello has covered the edge of her grass area with spider grass. On her well-furnished gazebo, she has grown a couple of potted plants.
"I did the gazebo early this year. I love the wind chimes hanging on it and the birds that come to the bird feeders."
Ms Okello says of her gardening journey, "I have always loved gardens, but I have never put effort into getting a beautiful garden until now. You need to put enough effort into watering and weeding. Working from home during Covid, I became more intentional about my garden."
Ms Okello waters her garden at least three times a week during the dry season. During the rainy season, she has a gardener come in twice a week to help with the garden to prune and weed.
Her biggest challenge has been gardeners pruning too much. "I love having an overgrown garden. Sometimes gardeners don't understand that and would prune or even uproot a plant if they think it's not in an appropriate place," Ms Okello who works in the humanitarian field tells the BDLife.
She cannot put a cost to how much she has spent on creating her garden as she says it is a continuous thing that she embarks on every single day.
Ms Okello's garden not only exudes a cool, chilled vibe for her family and guests but also for her pet dogs who enjoy having a place to run around, play and occasionally pose for photos.