Celebrating summer, gardens and dump diversity

July 15, 2012

Taste of Chicago abdicates!
Sheffield Garden Walk now officially “Summer’s Best Festival”!

You heard it here first.

Let’s face it, Taste of Chicago ain’t what it used to be. But the Sheffield Garden Walk and Festival is going strong, celebrating its 44th year of gardens, music, tours, kids’ activities, food, drink and just plain fun It all takes place on Saturday and Sunday, July 21 & 22, at Webster and Sheffield (2200 N and 1000 W) in the City of Chicago. Donation is $7; $10 after 3pm.

And, of course, in honor of the event, former Chicago Gardener of the Year Laury Lewis stops by the WCPT state-of-the-art-and-hopelessly-unworkable studios to talk about the festival–but also to answer gardening questions with me.

Of course, besides the gardens, the highlight of the Sheffield Garden Walk and Festival is the music. Here’s a look at this year’s lineup:


8:00 pm Gomez
6:00 pm The Ike Reilly Assassination
4:00 pm The Nadas
2:30 pm The New Policies
1:15 pm The Congregation
12:15 pm Ellus Bellus

  SUNDAY, July 22

8:00 pm CowboyMouth
6:00 pm Michael McDermott
3:45 pm Mr. Blotto
2:30 pm Vintage Blue
1:15 pm Give Back
12:15 pm School of Rock

Former producer Heather Frey already has her backstage passes for Sunday evening so she can hang out with Cowboy Mouth. And, of course, Laury is bringing a CD to the studio for today’s show so that I can appear at least marginally hip by playing some of the music on the show.

But let’s get to the gardens. There are guided and unguided tours of more than 90 of some of the most beautifully kept yards in the city. The unguided tours go from noon to 5:30 pm on both days. You simply pay your fee, grab a guidebook (complete with maps and festival information), and head out. Or you can be part of the guided tours, which leave at 3:30 pm Saturday and Sunday from the information booth in front of St. Vincent DePaul Church. Those tours not only showcase select gardens but offer information about the sites as well. Due to their popularity, your are encouraged to sign up in advance for the guided tours.

One of the remarkable features of the Sheffield Garden Walk and Festival is the number of people who volunteer their time and energy to make it happen–more than 450 volunteers. Proceeds from the festival provide continued support for neighborhood schools, local institutions, and community projects. In addition, proceeds are allocated to SNA’s Award-Winning Beautification Program, a plan to maintain Sheffield as the Garden District of Chicago.

The Sheffield Neighborhood Association invites you to become a Patron of the Garden Walk and attend the Patrons’ Party on Friday, June 1, 2012 You can RSVP for the Patrons’ Party here.

And, today, the Dearborn Garden Walk celebrates is 54th year!

If you can’t get your fill of garden walks, you can head out at noon today and help celebrate the 54th year of the venerable Dearborn Garden Walk, sponsored by the North Dearborn Association.

This year’s theme is “Musical Gardens,” and guests will be able to tour 20 rear gardens,
enjoy classical musical performances at several locations and learn more about the history and architecture of Dearborn Street through guided walking tours.

The info:

Today, Sunday, July 15th, Noon – 5 pm
$35 (day of event)
Entry at The Latin Middle School (45 W. North Blvd)
All ticket sales are nonrefundable.

Ticket entry includes:

Admission to over 20 distinctive rear gardens
Narrated architectural walking tour of historic Dearborn Street
Live jazz and classical performances in select gardens
Garden vignettes

But wait…there’s one more garden event!

Next Sunday, July 22, you can wander through some pretty exclusive gardens in Lake Forest for five dollars a pop. It’s part of The Garden Conservancy’s Open Days Program, which is a series of private garden tours around the country that begins in spring and runs through fall.

These tours are self-guided and cost $5 per person per garden, which you can pay at the entrance of each garden. Children 12 and under are free. Discount tickets are also available through the website or by calling the toll-free order line: 888-842-2442. More information on The Garden Conservancy FAQ page.

The gardens that are being featured next week are

Camp Rosemary
This garden was designed by Rose Standish Nichols in the 1920s and is made up of wonderful garden rooms partitioned by pines, yews, and boxwood hedges.

The gardens of Fairlawn, including many of the existing trees and the grape arbor, date back to the 1860s. After a fire, a new manor house was built on the site in the 1920s, followed by a division of the estate after World War II.

Gate House Gardens
A sensitive renovation and interpretation of the gate house surround gardens of the A. Watson and Elsa Armour property built in 1917, now owned by Craig Bergmann and Paul Klug.

Suzanne’s Gardens
Situated beside Lake Forest Open Lands, the gardens provide a visual transition from native vegetation to more formal perennial beds. Indigenous plants abound, reflecting the influence of the adjacent woodlands, remnant prairie, and visiting deer.

The Garden at Elawa Farm

Overlooking the beautiful Middlefork Savanna on Lake Forest’s western border, the Garden at Elawa Farm is an integral part of the renovation of historic Elawa Farm. A “work in progress,” the garden is being re-established to reflect its days of glory according to the original 1918 plan commissioned by A. Watson Armour.

You can decide which gardens you want to visit and choose your own order.The tours are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visitors may begin at either: Gate House Gardens, 1065 Acorn Trail, Lake Forest; or The Garden at Elawa Farm, 1401 Middlefork Drive, Lake Forest.

Speaking of tours…this one stinks

And I can’t even take credit for that headline because the Southeast Environmental Task Force, which is sponsoring the event, beat me to it. So did Chicago Tribune staff reporter Bonnie Miller Rubin in 2005.

This is the second of their OFF THE BEATEN PATH ECO-TOURS this year. Believe it or not, they’re eager to show you why the south side was known as the the home of Mt. Trashmore. They want to show you how the years of dumping household, hazardous, and contruction waste have negatively affected the surrounding communities.

It’s also a prime reason why more than a hundred protesters–many from the south side–showed up at the James R. Thompson Center last Tuesday to urge Governor Pat Quinn to veto SB 3766. which would authorize the Leucadia coal gasification plant at 115th Street & Burley Avenue. Please call the governor and tell him not to approve this slap in the face to an area that has already seen too much environmental degradation. His number in Chicago is 312-814-2121.

Meanwhile, if you decide to take this DOWN IN THE DUMPS BUS TOUR, you’ll see a lot more than you bargained for–dumps that have been repurposed and that produce energy as well as natural areas that border them and how they have become important wildlife habitats You’ll learn how Chicago deals with garbage, sewage and waste treatment in general. This unique narrated tour highlights the Southeast Side’s overabundance of treatment facilities – huge landfills, recycling centers, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District wastewater treatment plant and sludge drying fields, as well as several former notorious illegal dumps.

The details:

Saturday, July 28, 2012
10:00 am – 2:00 pm
$40.00 per person, includes lunch

The c oach bus departs from the Chicago Cultural Center at Randolph and Michigan Avenue in downtown Chicago. You are welcome to bring water or snacks. Lunch will be provided at a local establishment and is included in the price. You must pre-register for this tour by using the Paypal feature provided at: setaskforce.blogspot.com

For more details, call 773-646-0436