The original way to go green
By Anthony Caciopo
Regional News Editor
Gardens have benefitted immensely from above-average precipitation this year, and on a recent Saturday the sun smiled on nature lovers who came to view all the local color.
The “Palos in Bloom” Garden Walk, held June 29 by the Palos Heights Woman’s Club (PHWC), featured six gardens open for tours that day in the Heights and in Palos Park. Each garden was diverse in its attractions, layout and focus.
“I’m wowed, there’s just so much to admire at all these stops,” said Terri Riccio and she headed up another driveway on the six-garden tour. She declined to name a favorite because she hadn’t yet seen them all. Plus, she readily admits that when it comes to gardening, a “green thumb” is not part of her DNA and therefore she can’t help but be impressed.
“Even houseplants I’m given, they don’t last,” she said. “The time, effort and expense these women devote to their gardens is admirable. It can’t be easy to get these kinds of results.”
Garden Walk day began with a continental breakfast in the Orchard Room of the Palos Heights Parks and Recreation Center, 6601 W. 127th Street. Raffle stations were set up that attracted plenty of ticket-buying and tables were bustling with attendees enjoying homemade baked goods, fruit and good conversation.
Stephanie Ross and Margie Gaynor were two of approximately 200 people who bought tickets to the walk. They said they planned to stop at each garden on the tour.
“I decided it would be nice if the two of us did something different,” Ross said. “It’s a great summer thing to do and it’s a nice way to participate in a community event.”
Ross learned of the walk through the St. Alexander parish bulletin. She and Gaynor worked together at the Leo Burnett advertising company and lived in different parts of Chicago before moving to Palos Heights: Ross, in Edgewater and Gaynor on North Dearborn Street.
Their urban lifestyles precluded traditional gardens but Ross worked with what she had.
“Coming from the city I used to do it on my balcony every summer,” she said. “I called it ‘my back 40 inches’ and I did it up every year.”
Among the many club members in constant motion working the breakfast event was Garden Walk committee member Kim Prokes. Smiling and helpful, she cruised the buffet table, making sure things were just right and answering questions.
“I’m multi-tasking, as is everybody,” she said. “I was working in the kitchen and now that we have everything out of the kitchen, I’m helping with serving.
“We all baked something and we were here last night filling up fruit cups, worrying if we were going to have enough. But it turned out that we were fine. It was such a team effort, and I love being a team member.”
Suddenly, Prokes breaks away.
“Silverware is at the table,” she says cheerfully to a guest who had inquired.
And then, to another guest, “Take all you want, there’s plenty!”
Prokes said that she was out of town until soon before the day of the event.
“We were in Arizona and I told my husband ‘We’ve got to get back, I’ve got to be at the garden walk.’ We cut our vacation short so I could be here. He said ‘Kim, I want you to be happy.’ And I’m happy.”
Nancy Mitchell, the chair of the Garden Walk Committee, said she was “beyond pleased” at the turnout to the event.
Rose Zubik, another of the committee members said, “I’m ecstatic. We had a great turnout and I think everybody was so anxious to get to do something on a day that it’s not pouring rain. The raffle sales are going fantastic, the ticket sales were fantastic and we’re very, very pleased.”
With the heat and the humidity of the day starting to build, it was soon time to head out for the garden walk. Five of the six gardens were reached by The Regional on that busy Saturday. The exception was Wildwood Garden on Ford Road in Palos Park, but the owners have a website at www.thisgardencooks.com. The other gardens are each represented in a photo here.
In addition to Mitchell, Zubik and Prokes, other Garden Walk Committee members are Patricia Bailey, Marilyn Herrndobler, Mary Lee Lockwood, Eileen Lunter, Joan Meyers, Pam Pyka, Arlene Sypniewski and Sherry TerMaat.
The event raised $5,123.04 for PHWC charitable efforts, according to a committee member.