Gardens & Tours
Chicago is home to amazing public and private gardens and this year's tour line-up will feature a fantastic group of gardens, covering a wide array of techniques and trends, including public gardens as well as private gardens. Below is a schedule and preview of all the gardens and venues #GWA2018 attendees will visit.
Thursday, August 16 | 12:30PM - 4:30PM
Attendees have the option of participating in the North Side Route or the South Side Route.
North Side Jewels: Historic Home Gardens & Lincoln Park
Wicker Park, a small triangular park, is especially well known for its lush and well-tended gardens, maintained by the volunteers of the Wicker Park Garden Club. Nearby, see four varied private gardens in the Wicker Park Historic District of charming 19th Century houses. A four-block loop will bring you through all the gardens and back to the bus.
Step inside and be transported to another place and time! Take a journey to the Lincoln Park Conservatory where you will find tropical palms and ancient ferns right in the heart of Lincoln Park. Designed both to showcase exotic plants and grow the thousands of plants needed for use in the parks, the Conservatory offers visitors a tropical experience within its four display houses: Palm House, Fern Room, Orchid House and Show House, which is home to the annual flower shows.The garden is surrounded by a dwarf conifer garden. In front, a sweeping formal garden provides a spectacular vista. Across the street is Grandma’s Garden, a heritage perennial garden.
A place to connect with wildlife, Lincoln Park Zoo’s Nature Boardwalk is a dynamic 14-acre prairie holding more than 250 plant species. The garden started with wildflower plugs and seed in 2010, replacing expansive grass lawns. Nature Boardwalk is now a thriving ecosystem, embodying the zoo’s vision to inspire communities to create environments where wildlife will thrive in our urbanizing world.
South Side Saga: Private Gardens and a World's Fair Gem
Hyde Park Private Gardens
In one of Chicago’s most storied historic neighborhoods, near the University of Chicago, we’ll tour an assortment of private gardens. One is a former school where the homeowners tore out a blacktop playground to create a lush a peaceful garden with a rippling stream. Farther south, we’ll see two nearly identical side-by-side Victorian houses where the neighbors have taken very different approaches: One, a landscape architect, has a restrained and elegant garden; the other, a garden magazine editor, goes for the relaxed, cottagey look. We’ll walk around the block to see where a retired bank president grows dozens of varieties of tomatoes in the front yard of a stately row house.
We’ll drive along the Midway Plaisance, site of the original sideshow for the 1893 world’s fair, to Jackson Park, the main fair site. They are part of a park system that had originally been laid out in the 1870s by Frederick Law Olmsted. On the way, we’ll take a look at the University of Chicago campus, an arboretum and botanical garden.
This Japanese garden is a remnant of the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893, one of the formative events in Chicago’s history and the subject of the best-selling book The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson. It sits on Wooded Island, part of the landscape sculpted by Frederick Law Olmsted for the fair. Most of the island is now being planted to support wildlife. Near the Phoenix garden is Skylanding, a spectacular large-scale sculpture by Yoko Ono. Please note: This visit will require walking a distance of approximately two blocks across a pedestrian bridge.
Tucked between busy railroad tracks and six-lane highway, on century-old landfill, is a space planted for wildlife habitat with a gathering space for nature lovers. This tranquil 47th Street sanctuary, with a wetland boardwalk, is part of the Burnham Wildlife Corridor, a series of habitat spaces created by the Chicago Park District along Chicago’s south lakefront to support birds and other wildlife and connect Chicagoans with nature. It’s one example of a larger Midwestern restoration movement that is saving remnants of prairies and native oak woodlands or creating natural areas wherever space can be found for them.