One of the area's largest garden tours returns Friday and Saturday, June 15-16, offering the chance to see three private gardens in Barrington Hills, participate in trendy workshops and shop in a unique garden-themed marketplace, all while raising money for a compelling global cause.
Officially, it's called the Barrington Garden Fair and Marketplace, but organizers this year are describing it as a "Day in the Country."
"A Day in the Country"What: 18th annual Barrington Garden Fair and Marketplace
When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday, June 15 and 16
Where: Three privately owned Barrington Hills estates. Shuttles depart every 15 minutes on Friday from Barrington High School, 616 W. Main St. and from 800 Hart Road (across the street); on Saturday, from 800 Hart Road only.
Tickets: $55 in advance; $60 day of. Early buy tickets, $80, offer exclusive first look at marketplace items.
Proceeds benefit: Hands of Hope, a charity aimed at breaking the cycle of poverty in African countries such as Zambia
Details: www.handsofhopeonline.org or (847) 381-7367
Either way, over its 18-year history, the garden-themed fundraiser has become a winner, both in terms of drawing patrons and raising money.
Behind the successful fundraiser are the volunteers with Hands of Hope, a Barrington-based nonprofit organization started by local resident Vicky Wauterlek. She formed the foundation after visiting Nigeria in 1999 and seeing firsthand the conditions of women and children, in particular.
She returned to her Barrington community, driven to get the word out about what she saw and raise money to improve conditions. Wauterlek and her friends looked around and realized they had a draw right in their own backyards: their gardens.
"Each year, we draw around 1,000 people," says Pam Chandor of Barrington, one of the event's committee members, "and the stars of the show are the fabulous gardens."
Organizers call one of the gardens the "Enchanting Forest" for its unique works of art nestled among a shady walkway. But there is so much more.
Guests will learn how the homeowners transformed the wild, rugged property -- densely tangled with buckthorn -- into their vision as a living museum for their Santa Fe art collection and a peaceful backyard retreat.
The extensive garden stretches from a vista atop of a wooden bridge to gentle waterfalls, as well as a dense forest, thick with white and red oak, wild cheery, Japanese maples, black walnut and hemlock trees.
A second garden, called an "American Aboretum," features stone pieces from Ireland, Scotland and France, all woven into this five-acre estate.
Visitors will cross a footbridge to see a variety of blooming plants growing beside a pond leading toward a cluster of dogwood and Japanese maple trees. Wander further down a pathway and guests will see a host of other flowers, as well as a sunken rose garden that was transformed from an original tennis court.
Guests eventually will make their way to the French country farmhouse and its original dairy barn structure with its copper bell tower. But more gardens await them, including formal, structured gardens as well as the kitchen gardens and even a frog pond.
Organizers call the last garden an "English masterpiece" for its mix of formal, terraced gardens and carefree cottage borders that stretch across 10 acres.
The gardens that surround the main house are designed in the style of English boxwood gardens, separated by brick paths lined with perennials. Its backyard features an elaborate bird feeding system, as well as a swath of floral colors.
A gravel path leads visitors back to a pool area and its formal gardens, as well as a French-inspired fruit and vegetable garden, and the cottage gardens.
It is in this third garden where patrons will be able to shop in the marketplace and participate in a series of workshops led by local garden and culinary experts.
"The three workshops have been put together with the theme of sustainability," Chandor says, "which is very important to the foundation."
At 11 a.m., Susan Lenz from the Barrington Area Conservation Trust will discuss the importance of providing habitats for the monarch butterfly and share ways of creating a butterfly garden.
Pierre Pollin, an award-winning culinary chef and beekeeper enthusiast, joins with Carrie Schloss, author of the Asheville Bee Charmer, at 12:45 p.m. Together, they will share recipes using honey as well as interesting facts about bees.
Finally, Emily Noshay of Barrington's Smart Farm will talk about the health benefits of eating locally grown organic produce and how to join the sustainable farm movement by growing fruits and vegetables.
The last piece of the event is its unique marketplace, which offers a collection of furnishings, home accessories and art, all displayed in the 19th century farmhouse. Separate boutiques include the Hope Boutique filled with designer and upscale resale clothing, jewelry, handbags and shoes.
A housewares boutique offers new items from the International Housewares Show, including such brands as Le Creuset, Yedi Houseware, Bormiolo Rocco and Chef's Selection, to name a few.
The stables set the stage for the Acorn Market and its mix of vintage and modern furniture, as well as garden art and home collectibles, while a Beehive Bargain area offers fanciful buys in a tent behind the barn.