Lisle Woman's Club sponsors annual Garden Gait Walk

Gardens tended by families who love their yards are the highlight of this year's Lisle Woman's Club annual Garden Gait Walk.

The homeowners are weed-pulling, dirt-under-the-fingernails, farmer-tanned connoisseurs who have a passion to make their little corners of world beautiful.

Garden Gait visitors will be able to tour six diverse gardens from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, June 22, in and adjacent Lisle. Each garden offers a potpourri of plant and gardening ideas that work well in local growing conditions.

The self-guided walk begins on the grounds of the Museums of Lisle Station Park, 921 School St. in downtown, where garden-themed vendors and complimentary refreshments are available at the Netzley-Yender House.

Tickets for the walk are $15 in advance and $17 Sunday. You can buy tickets at The Nook, 4738 Main St.; Wild Birds Unlimited, 1601 Ogden Ave.; The Country House restaurant, 6460 College Road; and Anderson's Bookshops, 123 Jefferson Ave. in Naperville and 5112 Main St. in Downers Grove.

You'll want to start off early to complete all six gardens. Addresses and directions come with the Garden Gait 2014 ticket, but here's a sneak peek.

Haber garden

Fred and Joyce Haber take pride in their quiet three-quarter-acre corner lot with a shallow rear yard. On the property, Fred tallies 13 different trees and 110 shrubs and plants for an eclectic blend of color, textures and leaf shapes.

The couple began their garden 23 years ago, but became more interested in the details when their son became a landscape architect.

A chanticleer pear tree at the front corner of the house offers vertical height, while a slow growing northern beech graces the north side of the structure. A pair of autumn blaze maples provide a green canopy to the rear yard, and a row of Shawnee brave bald cypress trees line the south walkway.

Fred Haber designed and built both pergolas and deck to extend the family's living areas outdoors. The widespread use of perennials and shrubs include both globemasters and summer beauty ornamental onions, along with dwarf Korean lilac and bottlebrush buckeye. With honeysuckles on each end, clematis and climbing hydrangeas fill a 24-foot trellis along the back property line.

If the Habers can nudge Mother Nature, their large tulip tree should be in full bloom in time for the garden walk.

Gersic garden

It may be just an ordinary-sized suburban lot, but there is nothing humdrum about the oasis Gail and Ray Gersic created.

Evergreen yews, burning bushes and variegated euonymus give structure to garden beds that perennials and annuals fill for color. Knockout roses, white peonies, phlox and buttercups add interest.

"We wanted walkways so we could see the gardens from all different angles," Gail Gersic said. "We like to keep some grass, and constantly learn which plants are hardy and which will come back every year."

Over the 42 years the Gersics have worked in their yard that fronts a public park, change has evolved from the needs of small children to satisfying their own creativity and the needs of wildlife.

Certified by the National Wildlife Habitat Federation, the couple provides year-round shelter, water, plants and seeds that nourish birds and small wildlife. Fifteen cardinals, including a rare white cardinal, enjoyed a mature cherry tree this past winter with photos to prove it. Gail Gersic has recorded a total of 58 different kinds of birds in their yard over the years, including two pileated woodpeckers.

Wildlife of the mythical variety, occupy the miniature houses and toad stools in Gail's fairy garden to the delight of the couple's grandchildren.

Goldenberg and Pattison garden

The garden of Claire Goldenberg and Sandy Pattison uses its acre site to full advantage. Much of the property was trimmed with evergreens, trees and bushes when the pair bought it five years ago, but Goldenberg said everything was in desperate need of maintenance. She estimates there are at least 100 trees on the property.

Taking control, Claire said their best investment was a Pullerbear that can pull out honeysuckle and buckthorn with little strain. The cleared land allowed the homeowners to create their vegetable and flower gardens, as well as a tiny orchard of apple, pear and plum miniature fruit trees.

A generous sunny area covered in straw now allows more than a dozen vines of acorn, melon, squash, pumpkin, zucchini and cucumber to flourish. Many of the seeds will be dried and stored for next year's crop.

Dozens of tomato plants flourish from starting their favorite varieties of seeds indoors.

Flowers such as lupines and four-o-clocks also grow from seeds collected from previous plants. A two-tier stone wall garden with two fountains near the back patio provides a respite for the busy gardeners.

Stewart garden

Tim and Lynn Stewart breathed new life into an almost a 100-year-old plot of land that backs up to St. Joseph Creek.

Under their 17 years of ownership, the original house doubled in size as the one-third-acre grounds adjusted to each new transition. The latest is a deck and pergola in the back.

"We are just a half mile from expressways, yet this amazing neighborhood is a little slice of heaven and our respite," said Lynn Stewart.

At the front door, pots and window boxes of flowers overflow. Fuchsia, purples and chartreuse play off each other in nearby flower beds and under a coffee tree.

Lynn Stewart makes good use of her designer skills to start each garden bed with structure, and then adds color and balance to blend and place plants.

Alliums, poppies, begonias, elderberry, lilies, grasses, junipers, hydrangea, weiglia, mini phlox, Persian mint, Russian sage and smoke bush all are tools on her artist's palette.

A unique collection of evergreens dot the landscape as well as prosper in an Asian inspired rear garden. An evergreen on a standard, blue rug juniper, Norwegian dwarf spruce, blue fescue, Korean evergreen, mugho pine, Honoki cypress and blue dwarf willow balance the deciduous twisty baby tree, a member of the locust family.

Muir garden

Visitors to the home of Bob and Eileen Muir are greeted by a charming courtyard embellished with ivy geraniums, knockout roses, fragrant alyssum and climbing sweet autumn clematis.

The single crabapple tree that demands attention in the front yard was planted more than 20 years ago. Honeysuckle bushes on the right side property line stay full when trimmed wider at the bottom than the top so lower branches get sun.

A large pool and double row of flowering hedges define the spacious backyard. Pots of annuals and vegetables flourish in the sun and provide pops of color within beds of perennials.

A Japanese maple accents the patio along with hostas, sedum and Siberian irises. Along a black fancy grill work fence, flowering peonies, blue irises, pink polka dot plants and wild geraniums grab attention.

The low maintenance side yard has an attractive new sidewalk framed with hundreds of lilies-of-the-valley plants that came from Eileen's grandmother, who also passed along her love for gardening to the couple. Hostas, ferns and day lilies contribute to the beauty.

Nyhan garden

If plants could talk, they'd only have nice things to say about the garden of Tom and Joan Nyhan. As a longtime gardener and Lisle resident, Joan Nyhan acknowledges being in her garden is like visiting friends.

The one-third-acre lot was just grass with a few arbor vitae, viburnums bushes and trees when the family moved in 10 years ago. Now flagstone edged flower beds are bouquets of color.

"You learn by gardening that you need to find a place where a plant is happy and then it will multiply," said Joan Nyhan, who carefully places her plants.

Evergreens shape the garden where annuals bring color. A flagstone path meanders around flowing flower beds of hostas, coral bells, impatiens, begonias, astilbes, impatiens, torenia, lobelia and hydrangeas.

The multicolored coleus, purple salvia, polka dot plant, peonies, wild geraniums, day lilies and dusty miller all contribute color. Striped grasses and a white fringe tree are among the couple's favorites.

Joan found that annuals planted in a pot, which is then buried into the flower bed, keeps flowers from spreading and encourages density.

"Gardening is such a pleasure," Joan Nyhan said.

The use of stained glass, basket weave lattice and rolled shades personalize the outside pergolas at the home of Fred and Joyce Haber. Zebra grasses and blue muffin viburnums flourish near the deck. Courtesy of Joan Broz
The raised garden beds Claire Goldenberg tends keeps the family supplied with a variety of lettuces for organic mixed-greens salads. The charming garden shed keeps all necessary implements nearby. Tender green pepper plants warm under the protective plastic jugs. Courtesy of Joan Broz
Many of Eileen's grandmother's plants continue to thrive in the garden of Bob and Eileen Muir, such as these large flowered peonies, blue irises, wild geraniums and catmint. Courtesy of Joan Broz
Gardening is such a pleasure for Tom and Joan Nyhan that they created this favorite sitting spot so they might stop and smell the flowers. Courtesy of Joan Broz
The attractive arbor that Tim Stewart built for their garden encloses a parallel pair of seats. Across the top twine autumn mist clematis and purple wisteria as pots of colorful annuals adorn the entrance. Courtesy of Joan Broz

If you go

What: Lisle Woman's Club annual Garden Gait Walk

When: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, June 22

Where: Starts at Museums of Lisle Station Park, 921 School St., Lisle

Tickets: $15 in advance; $17 on Sunday


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