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Posts Tagged ‘garden walks’

IMG_8077As with many adventures, ours began in a train station; the Riverside train station, to be exact. A group of 23 garden club members met in this historic depot for a customized tour of six private gardens, led by several docents of the Frederick Law Olmsted Society.

The entire town of Riverside, formed in 1868, was designed by renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. The entire town of Riverside has a National Historic Landmark designation and is often referred to as the town in a forest. The quaint downtown with its unique tower is the centerpiece of Riverside; a town with gently winding streets, a variety of stately trees and boulevards that meander, much like the nearby Des Plaines River,  down charming lanes reminiscent of another era and past homes designed by noted architects, including Frank Lloyd Wright.

Frederick Law Olmsted is widely regarded as the founder of American landscape architecture.

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Our tour was arranged by the conservation and education committee as we wrapped up our garden club’s 90th anniversary year. We were hoping to see how a town can develop in harmony with nature. We decided to tour Riverside (the past) and visit a relatively new enterprise in nearby Brookfield, Root 66. The owner of Root 66 gave us a program on hydroponics and aquaponics (the future) at our June meeting.

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As we “motored in our machines” to the gardens, our cars in procession, hazard lights blinking, racing through town at about 20 mph, we must have looked like a funeral procession. Some of the gardens were more fitting to the architecture and era of the home with prairie type plantings and natives, while others were more precise and controlled. We viewed the grounds of the Avery Coonley Playhouse, designed by Wright, as well as five other gardens.

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I found it to be a delightful and inspiring adventure, tired but smiling as I got back into my car at the Riverside train station, where our adventure began.

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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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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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The second garden we visited on last Sunday’s Open Days was a mass of color and texture, ponds and walkways. Peonies danced with roses and the poppies were showing off in a profusion of riotous blooms.

In among the flowers, glass artwork caught the sun.

This one brought to mind, for me, Dr. Seuss.

A new use for an old bird cage.

A clambering noise from the pond drew us in, with this fellow making the most racket, as his friends sat or swam nearby.

Of course, I couldn’t resist the clematis now, could I?

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The Garden Conservancy Open Days take place all over the United States throughout the growing season and affords an opportunity to visit private gardens, often of historical interest and always of horticultural interest. From small gardens to acreage in country and city estates, these are living lessons in gardening, horticulture, landscape design, and the flora and fauna of our country’s many regions, topography, climates, and cultures. They are always inspiring and I post about them frequently here on the Cutoff.

To my readers here on the home front, I encourage you to check out the schedule here and to visit when there is an Open Day near you or when you are traveling. The $5 entry fee goes directly to the Garden Conservancy. Trust me, it is well worth the $5.

To my readers in other countries, I encourage you to explore similar programs where you live. I know that Great Britain has similar days and has led in this movement to open up private holdings for the benefit of all to see, and I’m sure most of you have similar opportunities.

I’d also like to encourage you, wherever you are, to participate in local garden walks in your town or a neighboring one has such an event. They are tremendous opportunities to see what is growing in your town or area, be inspired and perhaps become motivated to garden if you don’t already. They usually financially benefit local endeavors, while bringing to all pride of place.

Last Sunday, Tom and I visited two of the four open gardens featured. The pictures above were from a glorious garden in Bartlett. I hope you enjoy some of them and that you take some time out this weekend or next month or whenever to see what grows in your area.

Here I am, being silly . . .

. . .  and here is Tom, always looking at the design elements.

I will post the second garden in the next post and hope you will walk with me a bit longer along this one.

See you soon in the next garden.

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