Announcing The First (Sort Of) Garden In A City Open Garden Day: July 28, 2013

Our garden was on a garden tour in 2012 and a couple of years before that. The tour was sponsored by a local chapter of a group called, without irony, The Wild Ones, promoters of native plants in home landscapes. Unfortunately, it looks like that tour isn’t happening this year.

2012-07-14 12.25.26
The Wild Ones garden tour arrives at the Garden In A City, July 14, 2012

That’s too bad, because it was fun. Also, I’ll admit, it provided a certain amount of ego gratification. I’ve made inquiries about being included in the Evanston Garden Walk, but never heard back. That’s just as well, since I don’t think my garden is quite what they are looking for.

2012 Wild Ones garden tour in our garden.
2012 Wild Ones garden tour in our garden.

My little bits of lawn, for example, are a mess. They are an amalgam of white clover, violets, creeping charlie, plantain, and bits of actual grass here and there. (Actually, I don’t mind the clover or violets.) It’s not that I wouldn’t like a nicer lawn, it’s just that lawn is a very low priority. I have my hands full with the beds and borders.

And there are corners here and there that are kind of rough.

Even so, there are a lot of people who have expressed an interest in our garden, what we have planted, and how we keep it more or less under control. I thought it would be fun to have a day when the garden would be thrown open to neighbors, readers of this blog, or anybody else who feels like coming over and poking around.

Garden Tour

I’ll have a handout available with a plant list, and maybe some related information. There’ll be iced tea and lemonade.

The details:

The date is Sunday, July 28. Time will be Noon am to 5 pm. The location is 2000 Cleveland Street, Evanston. And, of course, the event is free.

Have you ever taken part in a garden walk or garden day? Have any suggestions or words of wisdom for me, things I may not have thought of? I ask this because as far as I can tell, what I’m planning seems pretty simple. Any time something seems simple, that usually means there is something pretty major that has not been thought of.

North Center garden Walk

And speaking of garden walks, I am told that the North Center Neighborhood Garden Walk will be this Sunday, June 23rd. It’s a self-guided tour of 50+ home gardens in this community west of Wrigley Field. The tour starts at Bell School, 3730 N. Oakley, where you can pick up your map. Suggested donation is $5, seniors are free.

60 Comments on “Announcing The First (Sort Of) Garden In A City Open Garden Day: July 28, 2013

  1. I love a good tour, and love when you can walk through a garden and feel like you’re part of it and exploring instead of just getting it all in one view. It looks like your visitors are enjoying an explore.
    Sorry, I have no words of wisdom…. just wanted to mention how intimidated I would feel if a busload of strangers stopped by to examine my garden!

  2. Advice: (1) Make a small display with labeled bottles holding individual stems of flowers or interesting foliage. This is a great conversation starter and will save you a world of trouble. (2) Have at least one blooming plant most people won’t know so they think you are a genius. (3) Enjoy yourself and everyone else will have a good time too.

    • I really like the idea of the labelled bottle, and my garden has a fair number of plants that are unusual for suburban gardens. As to 3, that’s what I hope to do, though staying relaxed is sometimes harder than it sounds.

  3. I think what you are doing is nice. I am part of the organization/promotion of garden walks/festivals in our area and have had mine in a few also, but never thought about a ‘one garden’ garden walk/open garden. Like any, promoting it is key. Talk to local garden clubs and the local Master Gardener’s group. You would get plenty of visitors if you sent a notice to them. If you are brave and want many visitors, put up a poster at the area nurseries. It would be nice to see your garden in person but a bit too far for me.

  4. I love our local Portsmouth NH Pocket Garden Tour of small, tucked away gardens. It requires you purchase a ticket and they provide a map of the homes on the tour. At each home, there is a greeter and usually the home owner so they can answer questions. They also have some soft music either piped or a musician playing. It’s always interesting to see before photos and either a list of plants or plant labels. I hope you have a great tour!

    • I’ll have a handout with a plant list. Don’t think I can manage the music part of it. This’ll be free though, so pretty informal.

  5. Great idea! I too have looked for our Zen Garden to be a part of a garden walk- nothing avail in our hood (Norwood Park Chicago). You just gave me inspiration to plan something like this so folks I know can come & check it out! I’d love to see yours (besides peeking over your fence in the alley for the Varied Thrush this past winter), but I’ll prob be hosting our annual garden party for my mom in law who turns 87 this year. Cheers!

    • Well, you know, if I talk the talk, I have to walk the walk. But now I’m getting cold feet … At least someone asked you to put your garden on display.

  6. What a wonderful idea; I wish I were closer! BTW, I think a “lawn” of clover and violets would be perfect. You just have to hope they’ll eventually crowd out the plantain and bits of grass. 🙂

  7. What fun! My goal is honestly to get my garden in shape to be on a tour.
    Advice – A small pitcher of water or lemonade is always appreciated when I’m on a tour.

  8. Hmmmm … you aren’t all that far away. Plus, my husband went to school in Evanston. If we’re free and able, we might just stop in! I would love to see your garden in person. By the way, if you and Judy are ever passing through Wisconsin, let us know and I’ll attempt to tidy things up for a visit (my house and garden are a bit rough around the edges, too–I like it that way.)

    • Hi again: I just posted about the “Lessons Learned” wrap-up. Loved your post about the Morning Glories! Thanks, again, for participating!

    • It would be great to meet you, and I’d love to show you our garden. So your husband is a Northwestern alum? And Judy and I do occasionally drive through Wisconsin en route to visit my brother and our younger son who live in the Twin Cities. Next time we do so I’ll let you know!

  9. Wow! What a nice thing for you to do! I’ve never been part of a garden tour or had an open garden. If I did, I’d be tempted to post a sign saying, ” My weedy garden. Thanks for not laughing.”

  10. How fun and exciting! I would be too nervous to invite anyone to see my garden. But I love going and looking. I wish lived closer! Good luck. I hope the kids across the street set up a lemonade stand! 🙂

    • It would be really great if all of us who know each other through our blogs could have a jet setting tour of all our gardens. Maybe I can convince Bill Gates or somebody like that to par for it. If only I knew Bill Gates ,,,

  11. My designed all native plant garden has been on many garden tours: DuPage County Wild Ones, many local garden clubs, including one that serves wine and hors d’oeuvres during their early evening tour, other local clubs, Northern Kane County Wild Ones (of which I am the founder) many times, usually with refreshments, some home-schooled kids, a summer class of kids, our neighborhood Bungalow and Blossom Garden Walk, and last year, the prestigious Elgin Area AAUW Garden Walk, which charged $10.00 for tickets. I have handouts of plant lists and reasons for native plant gardens, printed on brightly colored paper, copies of my book for sale–Design Your Natural Midwest Garden (available at my website http://www.naturalmidwestgarden.com, good weather, and total joy at what you are doing.

  12. I’d come to see your garden in person if it wasn’t so far away! I love to see real gardens created by and tended by the owners, with problems showing and all. It’s how we learn and get inspiration. Here we get garden tours that have often been staged by professional landscapers or recently planted with a ton of money and help.

    • Clearly all garden bloggers need private jets. I know what you mean about garden tours featuring only checkbook gardening by the owners. I try to avoid those.

  13. Now that would be fun! Too bad I can’t be there. I’m sure everyone will have a great time, but I do remember one fun thing from a garden tour I attended last fall – a coupon for a free plant at a nearby nursery. So if there’s a nursery you frequent, and can arrange it with the nursery, maybe you can get them to participate, either with a coupon or with a drawing from a prize or something. And in return, maybe they’ll promote your tour. Or you can just give away cartloads of divisions from whatever is taking over your yard at the moment.

    • I always have millions of volunteers and I feel guilty about throwing them away. I could pot some up … thanks for the suggestion!

  14. I think if I’d see a bus full of people coming to see my garden, I’ll become a total jerk afterwards other than a little ego gratification! 😉
    I don’t have any good advice to give you, except for offering some good stuff to eat, other than iced tea, like cookies and cakes, that would raise your garden rate to ‘very good’. Bourbon is needed to get to ‘excellent’.
    I won’t be there, alas, but I just took a virtual tour through google maps, I absolutely love the place! (You are so close to lake Michigan!)

  15. Good luck with your open garden Jason. I have never been on a tour and probably never will as there is a complete lack of parking and way too many mosquitoes. It would be nice to get that immediate feedback though.

  16. Your garden looks just wonderful and I think you are very brave to offer it as part of a garden walk for the public. I hope you have good weather and a good turnout for it. I only wish I were close enough to participate!

  17. I wish I could be there! There aren’t any tours like this in my area. I rarely see anyone with a garden, just lawn, lawn, and more lawn matched with a bunch of boring shrubs cut into geometric shapes. Pathetic! Good luck and have fun. Anyone who doesn’t love your garden is a giant turd.

    • Here as well yards that are not primarily lawn and geometrically shaped yew or boxwood are few and far between. I think your analysis of people who do not like my garden is remarkably insightful!

  18. That’s great you are doing. I wish I stayed anywhere close by as your garden looks fabulous and so many things to learn from there. I attended garden-tours; from my experience and experience of people in the tour, it seems like garden become an interesting place and they like the tour if there are lots of interesting plants and flowers and interesting points all around. And, also that it looks clean and nice and tidy (like no mess of jungles or plants or big grass; no one cares about the weed in the lawn).

  19. Forgot to ask you, could you please let me know how I can differentiate between wild viola (violet) plants and wild ginger? Thanks

    • Wild viola has heart shaped leaves. Also, they have small blue or white flowers in May or June. The Wild Ginger that is native to the USA has leaves that are more kidney shaped, larger, and downy. Also it has a little brown flower that is obscured by the leaves. Hope that helps.

  20. I wish you weren’t a 12 hour drive from me–I would so totally be there! I’ve actually never been on a Garden Walk or tour, but I love being taken through the gardens of friends and having them show me every little thing! Good luck!

    • I love seeing other people’s gardens also. Maybe some day I’ll be in Tennessee and give you a call. My son lived in Memphis for a year, though you must be a few hours east.

  21. What fun! Our yard has never been on a tour. Some of my paths are probably too narrow to have a lot of people over. I’ve been on tours, but can’t think of anything specific. Oh, I did think of something. If you have any old swings or chairs that may not be in good shape, put a sign so people won’t sit on those. The last tour I was on, it started raining, and a couple women and I sat on a bench swing. We started rocking, and it broke! One of the gals got some serious bruises on her leg, but I was not hurt. I felt bad the swing broke, though.

  22. Wish I was closer as I would love to see your garden…too bad about Wild ones…we have a chapter here and you can be part of their small tour…we are not ready yet…the weeds are still taking over but I plant to beat them back.

  23. If you can, please label the plants. I went on a garden tour a few years ago and the hosts were so busy that I could not ask about much of anything. Also note any unusual additions to your garden; one urban garden on the tour I was on had a bat house tucked in the gable of the garage that was easy to miss if you did not look up.. I hope you post your plant list online, too. Good luck! Hope you make this an annual event!

  24. A friend of mine and I have a garden “party” every other year or so. We open our garden to invited friends. This is the only tour-like thing I have done. We mix-up what we have for them. One year they really enjoyed me having my garden journals out for them to peruse. If it is hot a tub of water bottles or other drinks. I would come to your open house if I didn’t live so far away. Have fun.

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