Elmhurst Garden Walk: Stopping to smell the flowers

  • Three private gardens and two public ones will be on display Sunday when the Elmhurst Garden Club plays host to its annual Elmhurst Garden Walk and Faire.

    Three private gardens and two public ones will be on display Sunday when the Elmhurst Garden Club plays host to its annual Elmhurst Garden Walk and Faire. Courtesy of the Garden Clubs of Illinois

 
By Ann Piccininni
Daily Herald correspondent
Updated 7/12/2019 3:08 PM

It wasn't so long ago that life in the suburbs came to a crawl when the polar vortex put the freeze on, followed by Mother Nature's encore performance: one of the coldest, wettest springs in memory.

As we navigate a stormy summer, gardeners throughout the area are working to persevere and adjust.

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Just how well they are faring will be on display Sunday, July 14, when the Elmhurst Garden Club presents its annual Elmhurst Garden Walk and Faire.

Despite the challenges, chairwoman Penny O'Neill said that "the gardens are still appealing."

O'Neill said three private gardens and two public ones will be open for viewing during the walk, with club members and the gardeners themselves directing visitors and answering questions.

Visitors will learn how weather patterns have affected this growing season and what plant enthusiasts are doing to optimize garden health and beauty.

The club is not making the garden sites public until the walk.

"In spite of the erratic weather and so much rain, they have been successful," O'Neill said. "There are at least three of the private gardens and one of the public gardens that are dealing with stormwater issues. It addresses an issue many gardeners have these days. One of the public gardens is in plain view. It's a demonstration rain garden."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 
It's been a tough season for many plant lovers, but the Elmhurst Garden Walk will demonstrate ways to meet those challenges.
It's been a tough season for many plant lovers, but the Elmhurst Garden Walk will demonstrate ways to meet those challenges. - Daily Herald file photo

O'Neill said the walk, which goes from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., provides a chance to visit gardens in a variety of styles.

"One of the gardens was featured about 20 years ago. Some of them are expansive, others are smaller," she said. "One of the gardens has been in existence for about 60 years. There's one garden in particular -- the gardeners have a commendable passion for the environment."

The garden has been recognized by the Nature Conservancy, she said. It features plants native to the area. The gardeners refrain from using insecticides, shelter their collection of tropical plants indoors during the winter and add plant material designed to support a resurgence of the monarch butterfly population,

Gardeners interested in shopping will find more than 50 vendors at the Faire, which will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Wilder Park, 175 S. Prospect Ave.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"There will be anything from locally grown honey to the ever-popular Red Barn Greenhouse. They come from Michigan every year and have a wide variety of perennials," O'Neill said.

She said plants selected by shoppers early in the day will be held until after the walk so they can pick them up as they leave.

Entertainment in the park will be provided by the Elmhurst Choral Union Chamber Singers.

Tickets for the walk are $15 in advance, available through several area merchants, and $20 on event day, available in Wilder Park. Visitors will get a garden walk guide that includes a map and addresses of the gardens.

Proceeds go toward scholarships for students pursuing careers in environmental studies, conservation and horticulture. Over the past 20 years, the club has awarded a total of $165,000 in scholarship money.

Proceeds also help fund local endeavors to landscape and decorate public spaces and support environmental programs.

"We're excited about all the gardens," O'Neill said. "Visitors won't be disappointed."

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