The Lisle Woman's Club Garden Gait walk on Sunday, June 12, will dispel the notion that suburban landscapes need to be an expanse of green grass trimmed with a row of squared shrubs. This year's four diverse gardens will showcase the beauty of native plants, growing veggies, unique trees, rain water use and gardening pleasures.
Doug and Chere Hayes garden
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The garden of Doug and Chere Hayes is designated by the Conservation Foundation as a Conservation@Home garden with steep terrain to the rear of the triangular property. Ribbons of grass and flagstone create a pathway through the naturescape from one level to the next.
Doug Hayes handles all the large structural parts and changing topography, while Chere Hayes plants and weeds. Over the past 11 years, the pair has transformed a crab grass and dandelion quarter-acre lot into a lush haven complete with a sweet smelling rose garden and barn timber retaining walls.
"We really like plants and flowers much more than grass," said Chere Hayes. "I make sure there is something blooming all season long."
An attractive rain barrel replenishes the natural-shaped pond that adjoins a wisteria- and autumn clematis-covered pergola.
Unique trees on the property include quaking aspens, river birch, hornby, weeping cherry, Japanese maple and three deciduous dawn redwoods.
"Dawn redwoods were thought to be extinct until three were found in a valley in China," Doug Hayes said. "Basically all these trees today started from those trees, and each can grow to be 200 feet tall."
With a sprinkling of art and bird houses to spark conversations, the garden offers both serenity and pleasure.
Ellen Berry garden
The subtle design Ellen Berry created for her mature garden reveals its secrets in small increments.
The professional garden planner worked magic to transform six yews, two bushes, a tiny Japanese garden and a patch of grass into her flourishing oasis. She added a charming gazebo, cascading brook and 15-foot pond where water lilies and chow koi bring color.
Berry created her tranquil garden look by using different foliage, textures and leaves rather than a lot of bright color.
"Parts of the garden change every year and that is the enjoyable part because you don't have the pressure that everything is absolutely precise," Berry said. "Plants can seed themselves and decide where to go and it often turns out to be a better site than where you originally put it."
Among the plants that entertain the eye along the thin side yard is a stunning Sally Holms climbing rose.
At the front of the 60-foot-by-120-foot lot, a tiered water fountain is embellished with a small Silberlocke fir, serviceberry and red bud as well as the striking stalks of horsetail rush. Other interesting trees on the property include a larch, European alder, coral bark maple and tree-form hydrangea.
Berry's flourishing garden is an educational beauty.
Jackie and Clarence Saul garden
Adventure waits in Jackie and Clarence Saul's garden that offers something interesting at every turn. The diversity of plants, trellises and old garden implements that grace the yard reflect Jackie Saul's enthusiasm for finding the perfect garden addition.
Growing flat against a wall is a magnificent espalier apple tree. Other unique trees include a weeping cherry, dwarf Japanese maple and weeping pussy willow.
Centered in the grass area is a large screened gazebo and flagstone patio that serves as an outdoor family room all summer. An artfully fenced kitchen garden with decorative lighting includes a patch of raspberry bushes, tomatoes, green beans and peppers watered by a rain barrel.
In the fun-loving garden, a bed of roses is positioned between an actual headboard and footboard, a wheelbarrow becomes a flower pot and a huge 3-foot clay pot sprouts sunflowers. There is even a distinctive 10-foot metal windmill.
Black flowers are rare in a garden and Jackie Saul has several pots of black petunias with an eye-catching yellow starburst center. Other plants are daises, hostas, bee balm, trumpet vine, day lilies, lilacs, bachelor buttons, cotoneaster and ornamental grasses. Thyme grows between the flagstone paths that lead to cozy places to sit a spell and savor the garden.
Jack and Donna Schreiber garden
Numerous mature trees and a lush green lawn surround the 5-year-old home of Jack and Donna Schreiber. The large outdoor area accommodates recreation for the extended family activities.
Pines, maples, serviceberry and viburnums frame the front yard. Along the driveway where sun is at its best, a new kitchen garden sprouts peas, beans, tomatoes, strawberries, zucchini, cucumbers, herbs and quinoa.
Extra water on the property is directed by a small stone-lined channel to the rain garden with native plants.
"(The rain garden) is new to us, but we are trying to keep water on the property rather than run off into a river," Donna Schreiber said. "Water is a precious gift."
Two attention-grabbing huckleberry bushes line a side fence. A magnificent dappled nishiki willow sits near the 35-foot deck that commands the best view of the yard.
In the far back of the lot, a meandering flagstone path trimmed with a variety of hostas winds through the yard's mini arboretum of pines and honey locust trees. A couple of benches invite visitors to sit in the shade.
For fun, the Schreibers have tried to accent their yard with family names. There is Annabelle hydrangea, creeping Jenny, Joe-Pye weed, Jacob's ladder, Love Pat and Captain Kirk hostas and personalized steppingstones.
The Lisle Woman's Club Garden Gait 2011 is 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, June 12. The day begins at the Museums at Lisle Station Park, 921 School St., Lisle, with an array of garden-themed vendors, a plant sale and complimentary refreshments.
Tickets are $17 at the gate and $15 if purchased in advance at local merchants. Organizers regret that the private gardens cannot accommodate strollers or wheelchairs. Go to lislewomansclub.org for details.
• Joan Broz writes about Lisle. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.