Posts Tagged ‘Elmhurst Garden Walk and Faire’

“I have found, through years of practice, that people garden in order to make something grow; to interact with nature; to share, to find sanctuary, to heal, to honor the earth, to leave a mark. Through gardening, we feel whole as we make our personal work of art upon our land.”
– Julie Moir Messervy, The Inward Garden

I have not read Julie Moire Messervy’s book, but, as soon as her quote appeared to me it brought to mind the gardens on this year’s Elmhurst Garden Walk. I hope to read this book sometime soon.

From the homeowner who reverently said “my garden is my sanctuary” to the garden that was overflowing with plant divisions from family and the garden abundantly planted with garden art, the six private and one public garden weave well into Ms. Messervy’s words.

The day bloomed with all the glory of a made-to-order day. A soft breeze, low humidity, blue skies and sunshine – it could not have been a better day for An Afternoon in the Garden. 

Along with the gardens, the Faire in Wilder Park was bustling with a wonderful mix of vendors and a Monarch Festival.

Would you like to take a walk with me to the Faire, the private gardens, and the public gardens of York Community High School?

The Faire

York High School’s Inner Courtyard Garden

The private gardens.

I wish you could have been with us in the gardens, at the Faire, among the personal work of art that filled the day.

I wish, as well, that you could have met the homeowners, the teachers, the students, and a few of our scholarship recipients that also came to the Elmhurst Garden Walk and Faire. Scholarship and helping local endeavors, which include the activities that involved children and students this year are why the Elmhurst Garden Club holds this event and where funds raised are allocated.

Have you attended a garden walk or public gardens this year? Have you read this book, or another garden related book that moves you to garden, to explore nature?









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IMG_1462The forecast for Sunday looked bleak. Very bleak.

Sunday morning dawned with a damp and musty air, hanging like limp laundry on a clothesline after being left out all night. Alas, the garden gods smiled down upon us and we were gifted – for it was truly a gift –  with a glorious day for the Elmhurst Garden Walk and Faire.

The Faire in Wilder Park began its slow and steady transformation at 6:30 am, with vendors driving up and garden club members who recruited children, grandchildren, and spouses to lend their muscles, stamina, and goodwill. They helped the vendors unload their vans and stake their tents.

A fair was born.

Once the vendors were all up and running, Tom and Jennifer and I went to see the private gardens that were featured in this year’s event.

Would you like to see a few of the gardens’ highlights?



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DSCN4807One of the garden stops I did not get to visit on Sunday’s Elmhurst Garden Walk and Faire was the Elmhurst Park Conservatory. This historic building had been closed this past winter for refurbishing. It reopened this spring, but, months before that, the garden club and park district agreed that it would be an excellent feature for this year’s event and was included as a garden stop along with the six private gardens.

DSCN4814The original greenhouse dates to 1868, followed by the conservatory in 1923. The conservatory was the Elmhurst Park District’s first capital project. The greenhouse, and a subsequent greenhouse following the 1868 building, were improved upon by owners of the estate over the years. The estate’s home eventually became the Elmhurst Public Library, which is now the renowned Wilder Mansion. The Mansion is where our garden club holds its meetings and where Garden Walk visitors can buy refreshments and floral arrangements on the day of the walk. It is also the venue of other clubs’  meetings, wedding receptions, art exhibits, and a host of other events. It is a sparkling treasure in the suburbs and a stellar example of how communities truly can save their historic buildings and put them to good use.


A little tidbit that has drawn some attention lately is that the estate was briefly owned by none other than Mrs. Henry Gordon Selfridge.

While I wasn’t able to slip inside this favorite spot of mine this past Sunday, I did visit one early June afternoon. The plants had recently been watered, giving the conservatory an even more tropical atmosphere. There is nothing quite like stepping into a conservatory and smelling the distinctive aura of chlorophyl and new growth. It is rejuvenating; as it was on the day I took these photos.



A trio of tourists were the only other visitors at the time. They were enjoying the beauty and serenity of the conservatory, and were a little curious of what I was taking pictures of. You see, there was a generous  donation of a kaleidoscope by the family of a long time supporter and Board Member of the Elmhurst Park District. The kaleidoscope is a wondrous tool for seeing tropical plants and is very child friendly. Actually, the child in me was busy taking pictures of what the kaleidoscope was seeing, and the trio wondered what I was doing. I explained and invited them to take a look. Oh, the oohs and ahhs as they saw for themselves the beauty and breath of colors beneath them. They left, then, so did I, but, just as I was backing out of my space, I noticed one to the trio, camera in hand, was going back inside. Wonder what he was up to?

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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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DSCN5025I wanted to write a nice, long, tantalizing post about our upcoming garden walk on Sunday. Unfortunately, with the torrential rains we’ve had this weekend, we find that the arrangement of the park for the vendors’ stalls needed to change drastically early Saturday morning – and we couldn’t do much because it was pouring down hard, with at least two more fronts predicted to come in during the day, and more overnight. So, I’ve been working, trying to rearrange vendors, who are used to being under the shade of  stately elms and oaks in historic Wilder Park. The park, especially under the trees, is sodden, which can become slippery, dangerous, and which could be damaging to artwork.  The plan just had had to be rearranged with no idea what the park will be like on Sunday morning. It’s rather like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, as the adage goes.

All will be, for the garden gods manage to smile down upon us each year, but, just in case they are as tired of the rain as the rest of us, would you mind sending some good thoughts our way. You see, the money we make from the walk goes toward scholarships.

Last year, we award $12,000 in college scholarships as well as donations to local endeavors and we were able to send funds to help replant trees in tornado ravaged Washington, Illinois. Not bad work for a small band of women with dirt under their nails.

The six private gardens are lush and inviting and it would be such a shame for the homeowners to not be able to open their garden gates. I wish you could all see them. Two are historic homes with gardens that reflect their history and the good earth stewardship of their owners. One is a new house, superbly landscaped, with a lived-in feel. A bachelor has a remarkable oasis on a small lot, and, well, I could go on and on, dear reader, but, I hear thunder rumbling in the distance and the wind is kicking up, so, I best be getting back to my list.

Here’s hoping the sun dries up all the rain tomorrow. I’ll try to take some pictures.

If you are in the Chicagoland area, you can still buy tickets and get information at http://www.elmhurstgardenwalk.com

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DSCN2362The garden walk last Sunday was simply divine. We had a spectacular day with plenty of sunshine to bring out more than 500 garden guests. Would you like to take a little walk with me to see some of the gardening pleasures we enjoyed?


Come on. It won’t take long. Just watch your step as there are fairies in the gardens, all manner of gazing balls and statues, ambiance and, of course, everything horticultural to please, to entice, to inspire. I’ll stop talking so you can enjoy at your own pace.


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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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Like Goldilocks in search of the perfect bowl of porridge, we Midwesterners often complain that the weather is too hot or too cold. On Sunday, it was just right. After what felt like endless heat and humidity with a string of record breaking triple digit days, a breeze drifted in, the temperature dropped more than twenty degrees and the morning of the Elmhurst Garden Walk and Faire dawned with the promise of a perfect summer day.

Sometimes, things work out just right.

Our garden club’s member work hard to find inspiring gardens, coordinate with the park district, generate publicity, produce artwork and garden descriptions for the guidebook, advertisers and vendors are solicited, posters, yard signs, and banners distributed, garden hosts arranged, and any number of other details that such an event demands.

Each year, the gardeners have to contend with the fickleness of the midwestern climate; too much rain, not enough rain, late spring frost, Japanese beetles, even the 17 year cicadas that plagued this area a few years ago.

The gardeners had the sustained heat in March followed by freezing temperatures in April, then summer’s intense heat and lack of rain. I don’t know how they did it. I know lots of sweat, toil, and surely exorbitant water bills were all put into play, but they did what needed to be done and hundreds of visitors walked through their resplendent gardens on what may just have been the best day of summer.

We are all relieved to know that we will have money again this year to award some generous scholarships and help with local horticulture endeavors. This is what it is all about. Giving back to community and giving forward to the next generation.

I encourage you, dear reader, to attend a charitable event in your area this year. There are many worthwhile causes that the price of a ticket supports.

Won’t you please stay a few moments more to see some of the splendor of Sunday’s walk?

I loved the placement of this fountain that helped direct water into a pond.

This one tugged at my heart. The gardener planted the impatiens into the shape of a pink ribbon in honor of breast cancer survivors and in remembrance of those who died of the disease.

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Some of you asked what this beautiful purple flower was. I didn’t have the answer but now I do and wanted to let you know it is a Stoke’s Aster AND I have now have one. The Red Barn Greenhouse is a popular vendor at our Garden Walk and Faire and they were selling them on Sunday.

I took these pictures as they were setting up very early on Sunday morning. Red Barn is always a popular vendor at our garden walk and they have excellent plant stock. They also set up their display in such an inviting manner.

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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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