Looking for something to do this weekend? University of Illinois Extension’s Program Coordinator J. Chowdhury-Woodstrup has unusual advice about an upcoming local event: “Come spend your day in other people’s backyards.”
The U of I Extension Master Gardeners are hosting their annual Garden Walk from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, July 15.
This year’s event highlights seven gardens with locations throughout DeKalb County. Featured gardens include the Christensen-Cowley and Barnes gardens in DeKalb, the Singer garden in Sycamore, the Anderson, Hood and Fett gardens in Kirkland. 2017’s Educational Spotlight Garden is the Walnut Grove Vocational Farm in Kirkland.
Garden walk tickets are $10 apiece and are available during business hours at the DeKalb County Center for Agriculture, 1350 W. Prairie Drive in Sycamore, or the day of the Garden Walk. Other locations to purchase tickets include Blumen Gardens and The Garden Market in Sycamore, Glidden Florist in DeKalb and Lloyd’s Landscaping and Everything Floral in Genoa.
Chowdhury-Woodstrup spoke to MidWeek’s Katrina Milton about the Garden Walk and this year’s featured gardens.
Milton: What is the University of Illinois Extension DeKalb County Master Gardeners’ Garden Walk?
JCW: The Garden Walk showcases different styles throughout DeKalb County. It is a day-long event, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Some people turn it into an annual outing, coming every year. Event attendees can see new plant varieties and see how other gardeners place their plants and design their garden. The Garden Walk can also become a networking event. You can meet people with similar ideas and mindsets. Gardening, by its very nature, can be an isolationist hobby. What the Garden Walk affords is an exchange of ideas and conversation to anyone interested in gardens and gardening.
Milton: Can you tell me more about the featured gardens?
JCW: We continually strive to highlight different types and styles of gardens, and this year is no different. This year, we have seven gardens on the Garden Walk, including a garden in Kirkland that is a certified habitat by The National Wildlife Federation, a garden in DeKalb that has 150 different varieties of daylilies and a garden in Sycamore that has a 7,000-gallon pond with two waterfalls and a stone bridge.
Milton: Will there be a lot of flowers on display?
JCW: There will be flowers, but gardens are not always about flowers. Some gardens focus more on greenery, leaves and plants like hostas. Others have more vegetables and herbs. Each gardener has a vision for their garden. Some gardeners want blooming flowers, others are more concerned with placement and design.
Milton: What is the Garden Walk’s educational spotlight?
JCW: Walnut Grove Vocational Farm in Kirkland is this year’s educational spotlight. The farm provides agricultural and horticultural-based training for people with disabilities. Their U-Pick field will be open from 9 a.m. to noon, and visitors can view the farm’s native prairie that is under construction, their chicken coop, greenhouses and garden beds. Our DeKalb County Master Gardeners will be providing refreshments, cookies and lemonade, in the gazebo.
Milton: Will the Garden Walk be the same next year?
JCW: No two Garden Walks are ever the same. We want to feature the variety that DeKalb County offers. The DeKalb County Master Gardener committee members scout gardens either having heard of them through word-of-mouth or directly contacted by interested gardeners who want their garden showcased. The garden owners must be available and willing in having their garden exhibited and having foot-traffic of around 250 to 300 people.
Milton: Can you tell me about organizing the event?
JCW: It is a year-long process. As soon as one Garden Walk ends, the process begins again almost immediately. This year’s event is July 15. We will start planning next year’s event, probably in August. Some garden owners who want to be featured in the Garden Walk in the future, but want more time to get their gardens “in shape” let us know, and we waitlist them. They want to better their garden first and fulfill their vision before participating in the Garden Walk. And then there are those who can exhibit the next year.
Milton: What would you say to someone who has never been on the Garden Walk?
JCW: I think that all of the plant and garden variety in DeKalb County is fascinating and amazing to see. Come spend your day in other people’s backyards. It’s not something you can do every day. You meet with people who share the same interests as you and learn from them, share ideas. As a community, gardeners are very helpful and knowledgeable. The Garden Walk is just good fun and a nice way to spend your day outside.