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Community Garden Walk Takes Visitors on a Tour of Area's Finest

The walk will be held Sunday, June 29 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Proceeds go to Aunt Martha's Youth Service Center.

The 4th Annual Southland Community Garden Walk, presented by the National Council of Jewish Women, South Cook Section, will take place on Sunday, June 29 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (rain or shine).  

Garden consultants will be available to help visitors enjoy the awe-inspiring gardens featured in Flossmoor, Olympia Fields, and Homewood.

Proceeds will benefit Aunt Martha’s Youth Service Center and Respond Now. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 on that day. Advance tickets may be purchased at Sunnycrest Nursery, 19725 Governors Highway, Flossmoor, or at Art 4 Soul, 18135 Harwood, Homewood. “Day of” tickets will be available at Goldberg  Park, 3301 Flossmoor Road, Flossmoor. 

The Francisco Garden: Olympia Fields

Fifteen years ago the Francisco family began the transformation of their Olympia Fields property. It was littered with mature untrimmed trees, overgrown shrubs, and void of any color or defined spaces. Genevia Francisco set out on a journey to create her own special garden by dividing the large yard into park like spaces offering a place to relax and restore. The focal point of each space consists of evergreens to give structure, a variety of flowing perennials to add texture, and annuals to give color.  Throughout the garden there are water features, flag stone paths, arbors, and bright abundant flowers. 

The backyard has a deck designed specifically to accommodate Leon’s passion for grilling with a path to the main gazebo just off their home. The gazebo is designed with matching brick and columns echoing the materials used at the front entrance porch.

The Hauser Garden: Homewood

Billie and Skip Hauser love entertaining special events during inviting weather all season long. The long stretch of yard with its lawn seating provides an opportunity to see games of bocce ball, croquet golf and baseball. It also serves as a space for the grandchildren to scamper and play. Billie has a special spot in her heart that prompted the incorporation of a 150 year old family millstone in the “Water Feature” as well as the display of her paternal great grandparents “1886 Dinner Bell”. The dinner bell was used to call the farm hands from the fields and could be heard over half a mile away.

In the late fall, Skip brings the ferns and geraniums (the red ones are over 35 years old) inside for the winter.  In late spring he lugs them along with other house plants outside. There Billie divides and propagates the geraniums for display around the patios.  They too, have become flourishing family members.

The Rinella Garden: Flossmoor

This special garden was a gift that the Rinella’s son, Jim, designed for his parents just a little over 5 years ago.  Every year Jim adds new plantings while he continues to maintain the increasing garden beds.  His design of perennials, evergreens, bushes, trees, and colorful annuals provide mystery and enjoyment for his parents throughout the spring, summer and fall months.

Maureen especially likes the “Delphinium Bed” in the early part of the summer.  It is located near a beautiful white pergola.  Stroll through the garden to find the “Dahlia Cutting Garden” that enhances their living space the entire season.  There is an abundance of clematis in many varieties blooming at different times for months on end.

The shade and sunny areas of the yard have perennials and annuals with an incredible variation of companion plantings. Honed by an artist’s eye, Jim’s design flows creating a tapestry of color that gives us new ideas for own gardens. Wandering through the spaces Jim has created allows visitors to experience the beauty of their garden and how it continues to evolve. This is a gift to his parents that truly keeps giving.  Maureen and Sal are proud to share their gift with us.

The Reuben Garden: Flossmoor

Joni Reuben’s love of gardening took seed as a girl helping her father to tend prized vegetables in his “hot house”.  The garden was not only a way to help feed a family of limited means, but also provided fond memories from her childhood.   Today, Joni loves being outdoors planting and composting in her own garden it relaxes her.

Joni and her late husband, Dr. Paul Reuben, bought their home over 45 years ago – a home with gardens designed by a landscape architect that included a sunken patio surrounded by a round tiered garden.  Although, over the years, Joni and Paul replaced almost every tree and bush, they tried to follow the garden’s original plan, emphasizing their love of spring flowering bushes such as rhododendrons, lilacs, peonies and magnolias.  Joni enjoys the season long colors in the sunken garden patio.  It is there that the hydrangeas, roses, bluebeards and red buckeye create an oasis of pleasure.    

The Dobrez Garden: Flossmoor

Delightful and inviting, this charming cottage style garden is bursting with native plants such as: coneflower, rudbeckia, hydrangea, and lilacs.  Situated on Flossmoor Country Club, the garden features beautiful golf course views.  Sometimes people drive right up in their golf carts to take it all in and say “wow”.  The garden also features mums, geraniums, rocket snapdragons, zinnia and “a little bit of this and a little bit of that.”  You will find many nods to Joan Dobrez’s signature color of red, from the red geranium, to the red shed, and to the red gate that welcomes you in from the street.

There are wonderful tall grasses which serve as a wind screen and hug the edges where the property meets the golf course. Around every corner there are delights, including garden art and a traditional hand plow. 

The Stein/Spretnjak Garden: Homewood

A lovely front yard invites you to wander to the driveway gate and walk through into a secret garden.  This magical space is comprised of pots with personality, varieties of hostas, trees, and flowers all blending with color and texture.  In the beginning years of planning Jodi Stein would spend considerable time coordinating flower pots and beds.  Following her creative spirit finally gave her the ability to know any flower can be paired with another.  So, Jodi gave up plans and color schemes to find the beauty of nature. 

Much of her free time is spent relaxing on the deck viewing the ever changing space, considering all the colors, shapes, and textures while watching the sun move through her secret garden.  Jodi is forever in awe.

The Essig Garden: Flossmoor

For Tom and Gay Essig, their garden adventure began reading books and magazines, collecting advice from friends and watching gardening programs and videos.  With an abundance of information and the inspiration of an English garden, they began the designing of their own garden.  Every year a few new perennials and annuals are added, some favorites are Lime Light Hydrangeas, Sweet Autumn Clematis, and a Sweet Summer Love Clematis.

Most of the houseplants come out for the summer along with a collection of their growing “yard art.”  Tom is a bird lover and is passionate about his bird feeders, bird baths, St. Frances Statues and bird houses.  Tom and Gay’s interpretation of an English garden has resulted in a magically beautiful garden.   

For more information visit www.NCJWsouthcook.org, email c_f_spector@sbcglobal.net, or call (708) 798-4209.

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