2016 Members Only Garden Walk

People who join garden clubs do so because of their love of gardening. Our members have gardens of all shapes and sizes, ranging from a container to garden beds around their houses. It doesn’t matter how large a garden is, the only thing that matters is how much joy it brings.

It is with this thought in mind that each year we have a garden walk for our members. For there is one thing that our members enjoy as much as being in their own garden and that is to visit other gardens.  This year we visited the gardens of six of our members and also had a potluck meal at the last garden on the walk.

You’ll see that although all gardens were different, they all had some things in common.

All gardens had a garden shed ~

Sue shed

Sue Swartz


Julia garden shed

Julia Olsta

Cindy shed

Cindy Wicks Raben

Janice shed

Janice Zastrow

Jill better shed

Jill Fox

Patty shed

Patty Loomis

Most gardens had a fairy garden (or two) ~

Cindy fairy


Cindy fairy 2


Julia fairy door


Julia kitten fairy garden


Julia basket fairy


Jill fairy garden













There were birds and other critters tucked in among the plants in many of the gardens ~

Jill bunny



Julia bird in fountain


Patty frog turtle


Patty duck


Patty birds


And, of course, the most common thread that ran through the gardens was a variety of beautiful plants, trees and bushes.

We started the morning at Cindy Wicks Raben’s house ~

Cindy wrote a poem to describe her garden.  Here are some excerpts “Today the world seemed in chaos in the evening hours but I reflected upon my garden. The magic spell is upon me.  I’m glad that I did not wait; for life’s at its best in the morning, as you pass through the garden gate……”

Cindy members

Cindy is welcoming some of our members to her garden







Cindy front flowers

This is a colorful display of flowers in the front of her house











Cindy hydragena

Beautiful hydrangea tucked among some hostas












“…..I have raked the soil and planted the seeds.  Now I’ve joined the army that fights the weeds.  For me no flashing saber and sword, to battle the swiftly marching horde; using soap water in a semi organic environment.  With a valiant heart I fight the foe.  My only weapon is a trusty hoe.”

Cindy hostas

And talk about hostas! These are beautiful and huge! The club’s resident hosta expert, Jane Johnson, identified this variety as Sum and Substance






Cindy vegggie garden

Cindy had a very unique and space saving raised bed for her vegetables.















“………Herbs are throughout my garden.   Rosemary, thyme, dill, oregano, lavender, summer savory, parsley, cilantro and the fragrant scent of mint.  A vegetable garden bearing delicious delectable produce”

Cindy veggie and members

Cindy perennials

A gorgeous perennial border along her sun room



Her last bit of advice, “…Take up the spade with song.  Nurture early on.  Be fervent while you plot.  Chart the spot.  Prune with certainty and care.  Growth stops there.  Patience, patience, time to grow.  Reap what you sow.  Hardly the Garden of Eden?  Thankful for another season.”

Cindy members in yard

Well, Cindy I think everyone thought your garden was a little slice of the “Garden of Eden!”

Our next garden was at the home of Sue Swartz.  Her garden is 27 years old and 100% “designed” and maintained by her and her husband.

Sue front of house

Sue’s house was all decked out for Juy 4th. Colorful windowboxes were on each window.





Sue with members

Sue is talking to some of our members about her garden

Sue left it up to her plants to decide the color scheme and layout of each bed and they have naturally created a red/yellow/orange bed under her kitchen window and a pink/white/purple bed in the back corner.

Sue bee balm

Here is her bed with red monarda and purple cone flowers under her kitchen window.
















Thanks to some of her gardening friends she has added beautiful hotas from Jane Johnson, a gorgeous primrose from Eileen Lucietto and stunning purple irises from Sue Stocks.

Sue bird bath

Sue has a unique birdbath among her hostas

Sue rain chain

Sue made this adorable fountain using a rain chain. So creative!


Sue said her garden needs to withstand heat, lack of water, clay soil and no pesticides.  It is her sanctuary, where she enjoys watching hummingbirds, bees, birds, chipmunks, squirrels and toads, while she eats outside during the summer months.  Breakfast time is the best!

I think we all would agree that despite all those hurdles, Sue’s garden is stunning!

On to Janice Zastrow’s garden…..

Janice and Sandy

Janice is pointing out some plants to Sandy Swenson
















Janice and her husband have lived in this house since the 1970’s.  They planted all the beautiful pine trees along the back of their yard.

Janice big trees

As you can see, the trees tower over our members



















Janice trees

The trees are absolutely gorgeous and I’m sure it reminds Janice and her husband of their summer place in the Upper Pennisula of Michigan























Janice dahlias

Gorgeous red dahlias!

Janice blue flowers

Even though the blue delphinium are almost through blooming, they still were knock outs!

Janice veggies

Her vegetable garden was huge and among the usual veggies she also had raspberry bushes














Janice said her garden is “a loving work in progress.”  We were all feeling the love!

Next garden was at the home of Patty Loomis

Patty and her husband bought their house in 1968 and started from scratch.  They put in sod and a vegetable garden.  They added a flower bed in the back and along the fence.  They planted peonies and more flowers and roses.  It was a great yard for their three daughters to play in.

Patty peggy jane

No, these are not two of her daughters! This is Patty with Jane and Peggy

Patty’s husband died suddenly in 1990 and she’s been doing all the gardening since then.  She has 7 grandchildren and they also played and enjoyed her garden.

Patty grandma

There are now only tomato plants and sometimes green beans in her vegetable garden and it is a “holding area” for some flowers and a few small trees

Patty gets great comfort and pleasure working in her yard.  She doesn’t do much planning and just adds flowers wherever she finds a space.

Patty hydregna

Patty garden members

Some of our members enjoying Patty’s garden

Patty says her house is getting old and so is the little old lady who lives there!  She still enjoys gardening and finds it very peaceful.  It is her little piece of heaven!

Hats off to Patty for her beautiful garden.  We agree that it is a little piece of heaven.

The next was the garden of Jill Fox

Jill talking to members

Jill is welcoming members to her front garden





















Jill calls her garden her “secret garden.”  It is a place to sit, reflect, listen to the birds, and gather with friends and family.  She has plenty of flowers and shrubs for butterflies, hummingbirds, and the birds to enjoy and dine on.

Jill flowers in front



















Jill enjoys an edible garden for jam making and canning with; elderberries, blackberries, gooseberries, blueberries as well as tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and herbs.

Jill members in front

Jill pouches

When you run out of garden space, any handy container will work!

Jill pallet

A pallet is the perfect vertical planting space!

Jill Star Trek

In addition to all the other areas in her garden, this one is truly unique! It is a garden of hostas devoted to Star Trek. She has varieties such as “Enterprise” “Captain Kirk” and “Vulcan”. Who knew?

Jill invited all to enjoy, explore, and sit awhile.  Well I believe all the members enjoyed this garden very much.

Last but not least is the garden of Julia Olsta.  Julia also hosted the potluck.

Julia and her husband have spent the last 29 years learning about the native trees and plants that were directly in back of their property.  They’ve been slowly digging out the invasive interlopers, such as buckthorn, box elder, and garlic mustard.  The native oaks and hickory trees are all over 100 years old.

Julia & Wally

Julia and Wally talking “plants”





















Julia hostas

Julia direction sign

If anyone needed directions to Tucson, her signpost will point the way.

Julia coffee

She also has a cozy spot for a cup of coffee


Julia butterfly sign

Her garden also serves as a Monarch waystation

Julia has black cherry trees and wild native perennials such as trillium, trout lily, Solomon seal and Honewort.   They do a great job of maintaining their little parch of native Illinois woodlands.

After exploring Julia’s garden, we all settled down for the tasty potluck lunch.  Can’t wait until next year!