Visitors accustomed to wandering around spacious estates at the Barrington Country Garden & Antique Faire might hesitate this year when they pull up in front of a classic foursquare house not far from downtown Barrington.
But the garden that John Staab, a landscape architect with The Brickman Group, has created behind the home and a neighboring bungalow are worth the trip.
If you goWhat: 14th Annual Barrington Country Garden & Antique Faire
When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Friday, June 13, and Saturday, June 14
Where: Buses leave from 800 Hart Road, Barrington
Tickets: $45 through Sunday, June 8, $55 later and at the door. Serious shoppers can buy tickets to enter as early as 8:30 a.m. on Friday, June 13, for $80.
Etc.: Two estates and an in-town garden are open for touring. Visitors can purchase antiques and other treasures and lunch and attend home and garden workshops and musical performances.
Information and purchase: (847) 381-7367 or <URL destination="http://www.handsofhopeonline.org/">handsofhopeonline.org
Benefits: Hands of Hope, which gives impoverished communities around the world sustainable tools to improve their lives and those of their children.
And ticket holders yearning for the wide open spaces, gracious landscaping and peacefulness that only five acres or more can bring will still be able to tour two Barrington Hills estates as part of the faire, Friday and Saturday, June 13-14. In addition, all the fun shopping is still part of the event, including treasures volunteers have collected all year and sell at bargain prices.
In the village, highlights of the formal garden behind the foursquare house include a hot tub and an elegant stone staircase. But when the family that owns it purchased the house next door to use as a guest cottage, Staab and the homeowners decided to join the two areas and make the most of the second space available for active sports -- including an ice rink in winter.
"We want to show that in-town landscaping can be dramatic and strong as well as practical," Staab said.
Savvy garden visitors will notice the circle theme in the garden. It starts with the new entrance between the two houses -- a circular path under the arched pergola that is much better than before when the choice was to enter through the house or the garage. Immediately ahead the fountain crafted from a Victorian urn and the aquatic plants it waters also sit on a circle of pavers.
But the elegant stone steps from the rear of the foursquare down to the yard -- Staab's answer to the yard's previous slope -- really highlight the "round" theme.
This area, which includes a circular terrace or landing with a large planter partway down, is almost like an amphitheater and makes great seating for the youth group from the family's church, said the homeowner.
"The circle is a strong shape that helps link the home with the landscape," he said.
This part of the garden enjoys a hot tub where bathers can even watch movies on the screen that pulls down from the rear of the garage.
A stone wall beside the steps holds alpine plants -- various sedums, lambs ear, catmint and cotoneaster shrubs.
Off to the side, three sections of concrete sewer pipe stained to resemble aged copper sit vertically to form a raised vegetable garden.
"It's raised for interest and to keep critters out and it's easier to reach in and garden or harvest without stepping on and compacting the soils," Staab said.
The family of Disney World fans also points out that the large circle and two smaller ones make a "hidden Mickey Mouse."
Behind the vegetables, espaliered pear trees stretch along the fence. The fire pit and surrounding sitting area are on the opposite side at the bottom of the steps.
Some day wisteria, hydrangea and clematis will flower from the four pergolas in the garden.
Full disclosure: It's no secret that the winter was brutal, and at press time the gardens were still under construction. Staab and the homeowner had not made final selections for some items, such as the floral display in the main planter. But the landscape architect promised all would be ready and beautiful for the faire.
Here's a secret Staab was delighted to discover: The older magnolia in the new part of the yard blooms yellow in the spring, a rare treat for people accustomed to pink and white blossoms. And at the rear of that yard are two impressive oaks, including one that is a naturally occurring hybrid of two varieties.
Bad news: Due to the devastation of emerald ash borer, Brickman had to remove about 15 ash trees from the two yards, including one that was a great specimen in the original garden.
Also on the tour are two Barrington Hills estates. The first is where the faire always headquarters with shops, gardens, entertainment and workshops. Regular visitors know that every year there's something new here.
The prairie-style home on the second estate was designed by E. Fay Jones, a student of Frank Lloyd Wright. Jones is most famous for Thorncrown Chapel in Eureka Springs, Ark. Check out the massive stone chimneys for the four hearths!
The landscaping uses the same stones as the house, and the hilly terrain probably accounts for many of the charming walls throughout the site.
This gives the free-form swimming pool, hot tub and outdoor kitchen -- set lower than the house -- a tall stone wall complete with splashing waterfall that creates a remarkable sense of privacy and relaxation.
Up above the pool, a patio runs the whole side of the house.
The wooded gardens around the house present all kinds of perennials, shrubs and ground covers. These include roses, peonies, daisies, daffodils, astilbes, hostas, hydrangeas, pachysandras, bleeding hearts, Lenten roses and hakone grasses.
Extra features include the winding lane through the woods approaching the home, and behind the house a tall grass prairie planted with wildflowers and a small orchard.
The privacy, setting and perennial gardens attracted the homeowners to the property, and they would like to credit Abbott Tree Care Professionals of Wayne for helping to keep it up.