The Garden Conservancy’s Open Days Program invites the public to Mettawa Manor, 25779 St. Mary’s Road, Mettawa, on Sunday, July 23, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Open Day is rain or shine, and no reservations are required. Admission is $7 per private person; children 12 & under free. Call 1-888-842-2442, or visit opendaysprogram.org for more information. An additional Chicago Area Open Days takes place on July 30 in West Chicago.
The house and grounds were built in 1927 as a family compound. Donna LaPietra and Bill Kurtis are only the second owners in the manor’s rich history and have been working for the past twenty-three years to refurbish some garden areas and create new ones. The centerpiece is a walled English-style garden with forty-foot perennial borders on either side of a sunken lawn that leads to a spring walk and rose room centered on an old fountain. Outside the east gate is a golden garden and an orchard/meadow bordered by a fenced potager, cutting garden, and circular herb garden. The sixty-five-acre property has two ponds, a fifteen-acre prairie, a parkland of specimen trees, and is surrounded by a newly reclaimed oak-hickory forest.
The most recent additions include a silver garden, a bronze garden, an ornamental lily pool, aqua-theatre, a three-tiered mound, a grass labyrinth with central fire pit, with a tree house overlook, and a shrubbery with island beds. This year’s Open Day will be celebrated with activities and festivities throughout the grounds, such as a club car guided tour through the restored native prairie, refreshments on the terrace that include a sampling of local and sustainable foods, a photographic and video exhibit of the garden through the seasons, plus pointers on better smart phone photos, information on the three bee hives on-site which produce over 100 pounds of honey each year, and separately ticketed house tours (tickets are limited). A beekeeper will show how the bee hives work, and visitors can sample “Bill’s Bees Mettawa Prairie Honey” (bee activities 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.).
Visitors are also encouraged to include these public gardens in their visiting plans:
- The Shakespeare Garden, 2133 Sheridan Road, Evanston – open dawn to dusk; admission free.
- The Chicago Botanic Garden, 1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe – open 8 a.m. to dusk; admission free but parking fees apply.
- Discounted Open Days tickets are available for sale at the membership desk.
All Open Days gardens are featured in the 2017 Open Days Directory; a soft-cover book that includes detailed driving directions and vivid garden descriptions written by their owners, plus a complementary ticket for admission to one private garden. The directory includes garden listings in seventeen states and costs $27.95 including shipping. Visit www.opendaysprogram.org or call the Garden Conservancy toll-free at 1-888-842-2442 to order with a Visa, MasterCard or American Express, or send a check or money order to: the Garden Conservancy, P.O. Box 219, Cold Spring, NY 10516. Discount admission tickets are available as well through advanced mail order.
The Garden Conservancy is a national nonprofit dedicated to saving and sharing outstanding American gardens. Since 1995, the Garden Conservancy’s award-winning Open Days has welcomed more than one million visitors into thousands of inspired private landscapes – from urban rooftops to organic farms, historic estates to innovative suburban lots – in forty-one states. Site-specific Open Days Special Programs – Digging Deeper, Experts in the Garden, and Family Time – invite participants to take a closer look at the garden world. Hundreds of volunteers help this robust annual program showcase regional horticultural and stylistic expressions in a national context, celebrating the rich diversity of American gardens. Get out and get inspired with Open Days!