With cool temperatures and gentle, penetrating rains at the end of many days, gardeners are as happy as kids in a candy store this year. Even non-gardeners could appreciate the prolonged show of flowering spring trees, shrubs and bulbs.
The 2013 Lisle Woman's Club Garden Gait Walk will offer a feast for the senses with its selection of six unique gardens on its annual tour.
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The self-guided event begins at 11 a.m. Sunday, June 23, at the Museums of Lisle Station Park in downtown Lisle, where vendors will feature garden-themed merchandise. The tickets are $17, or $15 if purchased in advance from any Lisle Woman's Club member or at a selection of local Lisle businesses. All gardens close at 4 p.m.
The tour also highlights some of the latest trends in gardening while offering answers to "What grows in a shady area?" "How can I incorporate veggies in a flower garden?" and "In what ways can I personalize my garden?"
Luisa and Gerry Buehler
The half-acre yard of Luisa and Gerry Buehler was an empty lot before the family had their modern-style home built 28 years ago.
As a mystery writer, Luisa Buehler weaves clues throughout her garden using the gardening trend to reuse, re-purpose and recycle. There are a number of lovely little spots to sit, write and soak up the fragrances and beauty of nature alongside re-purposed art.
What was once the back of an aged bench is now an interesting support for peonies. The couple turned three former cypress trees near the deck and devoid of greenery into an artistic conversation piece using inverted clay pots on the trio's branches.
With Luisa's imagination, quaint wheelbarrows become flower pots, a rusting shovel offers a flower support and an old mailbox adds interest.
Luisa enjoys the perennials her mother passed on to her and incorporates a few vegetables in tubs, which was her father's forte. She said gardening taught her to acknowledge nature on its terms.
"I just enjoy what comes up and I am appreciative and thankful that God lets me play in my garden," Luisa Buehler said.
The Buehler garden is a natural environment that inspires endless creativity.
Raymond and Charlene Cebulski
The garden of Raymond and Charlene Cebulski offers a serene oasis behind their home of 35 years. The couple was ahead of the current trend of water gardening.
Their quest for answers brought them to the Midwest Pond and Koi Society, where they both now serve on the organization's board. Layers of stone surround a large pond that is home to 30 koi fish. The pond's top tier is the source of two waterfalls.
Around the pond are coneflowers, goatsbeard, cannas, dwarf white cone flowers and perennial petunias. A small shed that Ray built to house the pond's equipment has the trappings of a charming cottage, complete with flower box.
An eye-catching red rose bush that once belonged to Ray's mother flourishes near the house. Yard art brought back from their travels and a fairy garden are interesting finds tucked into the many garden beds.
Among the uncommon trees on the 1⁄3-acre lot are a linden, peony tree, Australian pine, a weeping redbud, a lime-colored green larch, a small Korean fir pine with white tips and a dwarf white pine with first-year cones in purple. In the vegetable garden, pumpkin and watermelon grow on trellises near fern peony.
Louise and David Goodman
Louise and David Goodman's garden borders on the Green Trails subdivision's 26 miles of paved common paths. The couple eliminated their typical front lawn to construct a tranquil arrangement of raised stone beds, pathways and interesting plants anchored by a Japanese maple, Bradford pear and clump river birch. Snapdragons and petunias provide color.
Among the neatly trimmed side yard shrubs, parsley, sage, garlic and chives provide a perennial herb garden.
A large stone patio in the rear yard is trimmed with an array of colorful hanging flower pots. The creative couple fashioned unique tables from original art pieces in leaf shapes. An attention-grabbing Tiki Moai statue affords a touch of island panache standing next to a large-leaf elephant ear plant.
The isle feeling carries over to the yard's 10 varieties of hostas among a generous splash of colorful annuals. A tiny toad house anchors a fairy garden for interest.
Louise is particularly proud of a hedge of purple and white rose of Sharon hibiscus that she propagated from three of her mother's shrubs. The newest shoots, she babies along until ready to pass on to neighbors and friends.
Nancy and Tony Heath
In the eight years Nancy and Tony Heath have owned their home, the original grassed front yard was transformed into a welcoming perennial garden path with billowy grasses, patches of white and purple Siberian irises and a variety of jewel-toned peonies.
A variety of roses, coral bells, sweet william, lavender and columbine intermingle along the path. A wooden front deck provides a place to sit and enjoy nature. Bird houses and milkweed invite a variety of birds and butterflies. The yard is a designated Backyard Wildlife Habitat certified by the National Wildlife Federation.
The large side yard has beds of pink and purple coneflowers woven into beds of white Shasta daisies and sweet woodruff groundcover. For everyone who has purchased a predesigned perennial border and had it fizzle, the Heaths have a successful combination thriving in their back yard.
The house sits on a bluff looking over the St. Joseph's Creek that affords an unmatched view of nature with the occasional row of ducklings following a parent.
On the 1⁄3-acre site, every season has a plant that commands attention. Following the current trend to incorporate vegetables among flowers, tomatoes, cucumbers and pumpkins are tucked into the front yard near the driveway for easy harvesting.
Carolyn and John Kanthack
Almost an acre in size, the garden of Carolyn and John Kanthack is trimmed with rows of field stone, which dates back to its origins as farmland. The couple expanded the original house 28 years ago.
In the front yard, a small black iron fence once belonged to Carolyn's great-grandmother. In the rear yard, sedum from a great aunt flourishes. All the hostas in the gardens originated as gifts from family and friends.
Two long rows of privacy fencing line the back yard and become an entertaining gallery of garage sale treasures that Carolyn's mother finds. Mirrors and birdhouses of all sizes and shapes hang on the fence, sit upon poles or poise on ladder steps.
A large aboveground pool and expanded wood deck fit into the plantings. A small pond, several water features and a hot tub incorporate the garden trend of creating living space outdoors.
A traditional vegetable garden in the sunny side yard produces tomatoes, peppers, squash, cucumbers and beans for the family.
In the front yard, a little sitting area trimmed in honeysuckle reuses the remains of the farm's silo foundation. It's a relaxing spot to recall yesteryear when a horse and buggy might have pulled up the long drive.
Janna and Rick Sampson
The garden of Janna and Rick Sampson incorporates the trend toward stone drives and patios into its total landscape design. A multi-trunked Amur maple on the corner of their two-car garage diminishes the structure's size and leads the eye directly to the home's inviting entrance where potted annuals flourish.
Below the maple, a row of variegated hostas is a lesson in patience. Rick Sampson, who learned that gardeners need to move things around as trees grow and conditions change, said the couple tried several different kinds of hostas below the maple before the present choice began to thrive in the spot.
The couple's flair for growing plants with different shaped leaves and variegated colors is best seen in their shade garden, where there is a patch of dwarf Solomon seal flowers near several blooming Lenten roses, variegated miniature hostas and an autumn fern dryopteris erythrosora.
Other plants included are yellow flowering corydalis, bleeding heart and a variegated brunnera alkanet.
Yellow-flowered honeysuckle bushes, a dense row of arbor vitae evergreens and Wentworth viburnums shrubs add to the home's diverse landscape specimens. Georgia peach red-toned coral bells, Jack Frost brunnera and Annabell hydrangea are a study in perennial diversity.