The Evanston Garden Walk
The last time I went on the Evanston Garden Walk was in 2007, and I swore I wouldn’t go again. What stuck in my craw was that the event seemed to show off the gardens of people who were not gardeners, but who hired a pricey but very nice local garden center to produce an instant garden. In general it was garden center staff, and not the actual gardeners, who were showing off the yards and answering questions.
In the most egregious case, a youngish couple were reclining on their lawn furniture, completely absorbed in their laptops and ignoring all the garden walk participants. I wanted to go up to the man and grab his laptop and deliver the following speech: “Sir! One does not earn the right to a beautiful garden simply by writing a check. To give you a chance to think about this, I’m going to take this laptop with me. You can ask for it to be returned at the end of the growing season.”
However, I’m really not the kind of person who holds a grudge. After a five-year hiatus, I went on the Evanston Garden Walk again, and I’m glad I did. What follows is a summary of highlights and things where there is room for improvement.
First of all, for the most part this Garden Walk included gardeners’ gardens, and the homeowners were very friendly and eager to discuss their plants and designs. While many of the gardens had been installed with the help of professionals, the owners also had hands on involvement, as indicated by the following objets d’art.
Second, I was impressed by how certain long, narrow yards were made to seem much more spacious, including some very nice “garden rooms” for relaxing, dining, etc.
Third, lots of water features that made me very jealous, including the above.
Finally, in what may be a first, the Garden Walk included the Evanston Township High School organic garden. I thought this was positive both because the project deserves recognition, and also because it’s in my part of town (more on that below).
Areas for Improvement
Very roughly speaking, my adopted home town has two distinct areas. The first is near Lake Michigan in the east and in the northwest, close to the Northwestern University (NU) campus. These areas range from very affluent to just unbelievably affluent. Then there’s the central west and southwest areas, where I live, which are much more diverse economically and racially. With the exception of the High School vegetable garden, all of the gardens included in the walk were in the east and northwest. Members of the Evanston Garden Club! There are some very nice home and other gardens in the west part of town! Check it out and see if you can’t be a little more inclusive next time.
The walk included the newly landscaped home of the NU President. Frankly, I thought it was pretty conventional and not very interesting. I can understand why that would be: limited budget, conservative alumni to keep happy, and a need for a very large area of lawn for receptions, etc. But I think this home could have been left out without any great loss.