How do I spend an afternoon off of work? How about touring some fabulous gardens on the North shore of Chicago. Am I obsessed? If you’ve been reading this blog for any number of posts, I can almost hear the resounding “yes” among you. I love getting a chance to see how area trends in landscape design can change even driving an hour away from where I work. The patios are all bluestone, walls are stacked stone mortared in place, and the plantings full of unique and unusual varieties. It’s an inspiring array of reminders to always try something new and shamelessly steal ideas from other designers. Just so you know, we all do it.
This next garden walk and probably my final of the season was planned by the Landscape Design Association and consisted of five homes in and about Evanston, Wilmette, and Glenview, IL. My gracious besty and fellow garden fan, Mary, joined me and put up with all my oohs and awes, picture-taking, and shop talk. As it was a self guided tour, I probably would have been touring alone, so I enjoyed the company and a chance to have one on one quality time that seems to not happen often in adult life.
Of the cool take aways of the day, the best was a grape-vine trellis on the second home we toured. The home, deep in the heart of Northwestern University student housing, had a redesigned backyard full of special touches. The grape vines are harvested and purchased in any length desired. They were twisted around two beautiful pillars anchoring the back porch. Two Sweet Autumn Clematis twine around the trellis covering it completely. Then, during the winter, the vines die away and the grape-vine trellis provides an organic element instead of an exposed mechanical look of more unnatural materials.
Another special touch noted on most of the patios is that they rough up the edges to make the bluestone look old.
The garden walk incorporated some sustainable elements showcased in the walk. One of the last houses on our walk was an explosion of plantings that worked with the grade as the property had one of the lowest points in Glenview.
This prairie style works with the low spot and is planted with plants that can deal with the periodic rains that have created as much as four feet of water on this side of the property.
The above shot shows how the vegetable garden on the left has been incorporated into the beds with perennials and even a few trees. It is a great way to save space and make the vegetable garden a part of the beauty of the landscape.
The chain hanging down to the water feature acts in place of a downspout. It is a more decorative option that flows into the feature to replenish during a rain. I do think a bigger pump in this case would have allowed the water to splash more instead of slowly falling, and prevent the drilled holes in the boulders from being seen. I am digging the moss that has developed on the wet boulders.
I leave this post with a picture of an inviting space worth pause.
There are no fancy curved lines, just a correctly proportioned space for a relaxing evening with friends and family. I enjoyed getting out of the western suburbs for an afternoon designed to get any designer out of a design rut. I can’t wait to use a grape-vine trellis in a new design. Any takers?