June is prime time for gardens on the North Shore. The last frost should be well in the rearview mirror and soil temperatures are finally ready to consistently sponsor growth. The community nurseries explode with activity as gardeners get their hands dirty. We see our neighbors and community out in full force, whipping our outdoor living spaces into shape. Now, we have the opportunity to see their fine work up close, on Thursday, June 23.
Every two years, the Junior Garden Club of Lake Forest throws open the gates to several of the most gorgeous estate gardens right here in our backyard for one day. The funds raised by ticket sales from the event go to civic beautification efforts in the city of Lake Forest. In the past, funds raised have gone to support programs like Elawa Farm, Lake Forest Open Lands, and creating Deer Path Middle School’s new vegetable garden, which is planted and maintained by the students.
This year, Junior Garden Club members have their sights set on one special project: The Belvedere Renovation. Redesigning and planting the garden that surrounds the stairs on the bluff of Forest Park Beach has been a focus of the Club for the past two years. “The Belvedere Garden serves many purposes,” says Kim Neill, president of the Junior Garden Club of Lake Forest. “It is our gateway to beautiful Forest Park above, a place to survey the vista of Lake Michigan, and a showcase for the native plants that have been identified as indigenous to the bluff.”
“It’s such an iconic place for Lake Forest, our members are excited to support the design and maintenance,” adds Chrissy Davis, co-chair of the 2016 Garden Walk. “It’s a focal point of Forest Park Beach and we want to make it beautiful.”
The 2016 Garden Walk will be headquartered at 300 N. Green Bay Road in Lake Forest, where attendees can pick up their programs starting at 9 a.m. and discover the locations of the five spectacular gardens featured this year. Each in east Lake Forest, guests may visit the gardens at their leisure in no particular order, returning to 300 N. Green Bay Road for a luncheon at noon. Garden visitation resumes for the rest of the day until 3 p.m.
This year, for the first time, the event will also be host to a garden-themed boutique, featuring vendors of items like jewelry, accessories, hats, and delicious sweets. The boutique will be open throughout the event.
Each Garden Walk, the co-chairs of the event receive a detailed history of the homes and gardens from the owners of each featured property, including the names of the landscape architect and renderings of the landscape plans. Volunteers are placed throughout the gardens to discuss interesting details with guests.
The 2016 Garden Walk will be particularly summer-themed this year, as each of the five featured homes incorporates a swimming pool and hardscape features in addition to their beautiful gardens, ideal for summer relaxation.
The Junior Garden Club of Lake Forest was founded in 1954 as a private group promoting the education of gardening skills for its membership and local interest in conservation and civic beautification. “The nicest part about this group is that it’s multigenerational,” says Katie Ford, co-chair of the 2016 Garden Walk alongside Davis and Mary Pierce. “We have members in their 80s and then we have new members who are in their 30s. We live in such a beautiful place, and we want to help maintain that.”
For more information, find the Junior Garden Club of Lake Forest on Facebook.