Posts Tagged ‘Elmhurst Garden Club’

We are fast approaching the Elmhurst Garden Walk and Faire, which is on July 9th this year. The homeowners are busy as bees weeding, planting, adding flourishes and embellishing with their individual styles. This year has been cool and wet and erratic, a challenge for sure – but each year brings its own trials. I am always amazed at the ingenuity and fortitude of homeowners preparing for hundreds of strangers to walk through their gardens. I am also very grateful for it allows the club to provide very generous scholarships along with community endeavors.

This year, I have the pleasure of writing the garden descriptions, which means I see the gardens as they are emerging and until the crunch is on to go to print. We don’t release the names or addresses until the day of the event, but, dear reader, I CAN tell you that the gardens are as amazing as they are varied. From newer construction to a century old homestead, they reflect the character of the gardeners and their many ways of gardening and there is something of interest for everyone in attendance.  The York High School gardens are an added feature this year and they are as inspiring as they are educational. There is also a Faire in Wilder Park with vendors selling garden related products and plants and there will be a butterfly festival as well. More information is here.

While I cannot show you the gardens, I did want to show you this one element I found in one of the gardens, which harkens back to my previous post on nests. The gardeners, a most charming couple, have incorporated nests in several spots of the garden. I found this one quite enchanting coupled with Emily Dickinson’s words.

If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.

Emily Dickinson




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IMG_6517A sea of pink flowers,  artfully arranged by the ladies of the garden club. A simple set of instructions: clear vase, pink, white, green and black flowers and adornments.

A historical presentation of The Little Black Dress, modeled in vintage dresses covering the nine decades our garden club has been celebrating this year, in the grandeur of the magnificent Medinah Country Club.

More than 130 women, elegantly attired in black and pink, green and white, tailored and flowing, long and short, sipping drinks and chatting with friends as they perused more than twenty artistically adorned raffle baskets.


A delectably plated luncheon of tomato bisque soup, salad topped with warm chicken, and this pièce de résistance.


It was a remarkably memorable afternoon. Two wonderful women, my friends,  were honored as Women of the Year. Our garden club members and their guests forgot their worries and troubles for a few hours, or, at least felt those burdens lift.  They were, hopefully, feeling as special as they are in this all-too- brief  but very special moment in time

A few glimpses into the Elmhurst Garden Club’s annual luncheon – A Little Black Dress.

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I am so excited that the Northern Illinois Iris Society will once again be participating at the Elmhurst Garden Club’s annual Garden Walk and Faire on July 12, and am quite grateful that I was able to attend their flower show at the Morton Arboretum on Saturday.  It was a cold, windy, rainy day  –  the perfect time and place for an indoor viewing of some one hundred  iris blooms. Each one was exquisite, as were the floral arrangements in which both adults and youth had entries following a theme of shoes.

As I walked around the exhibition room,  I hard the soft tones of admiration within along with the pattering of rain without. I was in awe of the elegant beauty of so many irises. My favorite tree, the Copper Beech, was a backdrop for a few of the blooms through the windows. The small courtyard outside was set up for a wedding ceremony. It was such a cold and wet day, but a bride and groom managed to come inside and had a few wedding photos taken among the floral splendor.

Enough fairy tales. These, dear reader, are a but a few of the irises that were on display. If you ever have a chance to see a flower show from a garden club or society in your area, I strongly encourage you to go.


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The garden gods DID smile down upon us, and the day dawned with promise. An overcast sky allowed homeowners to open their gates and vendors to unload their wares without theDSCN5318 heat of the sun beating down. Later, the clouds lifted, the sun came out, the humidity dropped and it was a most excellent day for a garden walk.

The ladies of the club, the Elmhurst Garden Club that is, and their sons, daughters, husbands, nephews and friends arrived to help, bring coffee, set up welcoming ticket tables at the featured gardens  (and decorate them with flowers and hard candy). Area organizations volunteer at these entry tables. Scholarship winners were available in Wilder Mansion where members were available and where many of members brought floral arrangements they crafted for sale. Isn’t it amazing how a vase of flowers can bring a smile to one’s face?

All-in-all, it was a delightful affair – our Afternoon in the Garden. Please, come with me, through the garden gate, and see a bit of what I saw along the way – and please accept my gratitude for all your well wishes. 🙂



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DSCN2680Do you remember our Wildlife Habitat, and how we are endeavoring to introduce grasses and native plants into this area of our garden? I know I’ve mentioned my garden club and the wonderful women gardeners in it.  I know I have, many times, if truth be told, and now I am mentioning both here, because, dear friend, our little gardening experiment grew to twice its size in the past few weeks – in spite of our aching backs and dirty fingernails, we are experiencing supreme delight.

Members of our garden club maintain the herb garden at Wilder Park in Elmhurst. A small band of women, on bended knees, plant and weed and tend to this garden from about May to October, much to the pleasure of all who walk past it, sit on benches amongst its fragrant mist, or get married a few steps away under the Park District’s wedding tent.  The herb garden is a delight to behold. Garden clubs throughout the States, and, I’m sure, throughout the world, do just this sort of volunteer work, making your pathways and byways more pleasant and bringing nature home.

I digress. Back to the herb garden, in all its glory, until a few weeks ago Sunday. You see, major construction is going on at the adjoining greenhouse and conservatory, necessitating the uprooting of the herb garden. As such, our club members were invited to help dig up the herbs and the grasses to make way for construction – and to keep some of the plants for our own use.

Shovels in hand, Tom and I headed over, bright and early in the morning. We arrived home  several hours later with a car full of lavender, thyme, bee balm, Joe DSCN2687Pye weed, lemon grass, and Echinacea; plants we were hoping to introduce to extend our little grassy knoll which lies just past the arbor.  I cannot begin to express our gratitude at having acquired all of these plants, nor can I adequately describe the scents in the car that fueled us home, or the thrill of the bees that were immediately attracted to the gifts of nature we immediately planted.

Tom rolled out the wheelbarrows and transformed himself into a sodbuster. We added compost, filled with friable soil and wiggling worms, planted and watered and watered again, until our newly adopted natives had their feet set firmly into the soil. How good it felt to sit for a spell in our arbor, sipping something cool, sharing some cookies, and watching our prairie grow.

Once everything was in, we needed to cut most of the plants back. Not quite ready to abandon the sweet fragrance of the Joe Pye weed, I slipped some of the cut stems into a honey jar and set it next to a wooden bench that had been languishing elsewhere. An old tree stump and a relatively new watering stone quickly found each other and became a birdbath, and our vista suddenly changed and our habitat expanded.


It will take a few years for our new garden to flourish and mature. A bevy of birds already frequent the new watering hole. Our eyes, then our feet, are daily drawn to this growing space. We feel a sense of exhilaration at having acquired such healthy stock from the herb garden that the women so faithfully tended to.

Come late winter and early spring, our garden club women will work with the park district on a new configuration of the herb garden. I can’t wait to see how they develop it. This is what all gardeners do, don’t they? They plant and plan, dig out and replant, share growth and garden wisdom and the comrarderie that grows among them, along with the herbs and flowers. What a busy summer of expansion, planting, sharing and nurturing we have had this summer. Phew! 


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DSCN2321DSCN2366I wish you could see this flowery lady on the left in person. She is the belle of the ball, the queen of the prom , the next top model; a real live gal, in an earthy sort of way.  Actually, you CAN see her if you live in the Chicagoland area and come to the 2013 Elmhurst Garden Walk and Faire on Sunday.

The Garden Walk committee is busy with last minute preparations, and the homeowners are even busier. We had a delicious rain on Monday, with a bit of lightening – just the thing to to keep the blooms going and give the soil a good soaking. but, if you are opening up your garden to hundreds of visitors, the few days before are filled with activity.

The Elmhurst Garden Club presents An Afternoon in the Garden each July. This is our 18th year.  I must say, the selection committee did an outstanding job with this year’s choice of gardens.  All seven, unique in their own way, make for a pleasant day of inspiration. Tickets are still available at a reduced price of $15 until Saturday. All the proceeds go to local endeavors and for scholarships to worthy applicants. The Elmhurst Garden Club has awarded more than $185,000.00 in proceeds throughout the years,which is pretty impressive for what I can a gardening band of 100 or so women with dirt on their hands. Proceed benefit not only scholars, but school gardens, summer camp attendees, and the rebuilding of public gardens damaged after Hurricane Katrina, to name but a few.  Information on the walk can be found here.

If you are in the area, please consider purchasing a ticket and visiting the gardens, and the fair in Wilder Park as well.

If not, won’t you consider a local garden walk in your area? They will inspire and refresh you, and they always benefit some good causes.

Okay, I’ll stop talking and show you a few photos.

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Mary is a dear friend to many, especially the members of the Elmhurst Garden Club. She has served the club in so many ways with her knowledge, determination, good grace and sparkling wit. Mary was instrumental in helping to rally members in an effort to save the Great Western Prairie, among other endeavors and held many club positions. She remains inspiration to me; an ever-blooming flower in the garden of my life.

These days, Mary can’t get out and about like she would like to. Health issues necessitated her moving from her home to assisted living and have limited her participation in the many activities she enjoyed. It could not have been easy for her to face so many life changes, yet she has done so with her sense of humor intact, participating in activities she can, and she is embarking on new adventures.

On Monday, our garden club held an auction in lieu of a program. Members donated fine items they no longer use; hand painted children’s furniture, crystal candle holders, tea sets, even original artwork. We are gardeners; progressive when it comes to the environment, horticulture, sustainability, scholarship, saving the monarchs. We are equally conservative when it comes to what and how we spend money. All this to say that none of the winning bids were exorbitant. We could all afford to eat dinner last night, some left with presents to tuck away for the holidays, and we had fun in the process as the garden club’s coffers increased a bit.

One of the auction items was a painting. A simple clay pot of purple flowers as bright as an April day. I could almost feel the dirt under my fingernails and the sunshine on my face. The painting is now mine; it’s soft, muted colors of periwinkle and sage politely waiting to be framed. The artist was our Mary, who recently took up painting!

What an inspiration Mary is. This endearing potted plant is just what I needed, not only to focus on what is really important, but to be uplifted by Mary’s example of fortitude and her endeavors to continue to learn something new. Her creativity and never-ending ability to give to others, along with her budding talent, are a gift to us all, and now, dear reader, my gift to you.

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I’m trying to decide if I want to put a flower or a feather in my hat.

Important decisions such as a these take time, especially if you are someone like me who does not look particularly fetching in a hat. One’s hair must be right and the tilt of the hat just so. The only way a hat’s tilt looks fetching on me is if my head is lilting starboard

Then, there’s the issue of proper attire. Glovesl, jewelry and such. I’ve been rummaging around in the closet to find the proper outfit. No luck finding something as proper as this.

Now, you might ask, what is all this fuss about?

 I will tell you.

Our garden club’s meeting is to begin with High Tea. Hats and gloves optional.

 Members will be bringing sweets and savouries and we will be having a presentation by a local tea shop, Serene Tea.

My challenge will be to bring members down to earth afterwards for our business meeting (I’m president).

 I’m off to bake some cupcakes – and decide if it’s a feather duster or flowerpot that will be my crown.

While I’m tending to that, I’ll pose a challenge. Can you guess who this lady is with plumes on her hat? I’ll give you some clues.

As a girl, she disliked wearing hats.

She lived in cabins, log homes, and even a sod house.

She traveled across the prairies in covered wagons.

I’ll tell you tomorrow, after High Tea.

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The members of the garden club I am in, the Elmhurst Garden Club, are as busy as bees in a hive getting ready for the annual walk this coming Sunday.

Those of you who have been involved in any kind of house or garden walk, festival or gala, know the amount of work involved and you all give of your time, money, and efforts for good causes. From breast cancer to juvenile diabetes, scholarships to aiding a family in need after a hardship, church building funds or public awareness, community events such as these are the meat upon the bones of our lives.

There are also the wonderful folks who open up their homes, their kitchens, their gardens for hundreds upon hundreds of interested

I just love the creativity of the gardeners.

and curious to observe. Make no mistake, these folks work hard and often spend a considerable amount of personal money to make it all happen.

So, if there is a fair or festival or garden walk in your area, consider going.

Of course, if you are in the Chicagoland area, I can tell you for sure that the Elmhurst Garden Walk and Faire will knock your garden gloves off!  You will see everything from fig trees thriving in our zone 5 climate, to a healing garden, lunch in the Wilder Mansion, and a garden fair to simply delight.


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