1. Wildlife Habitat
Here in town is a certified Wildlife Habitat not normally open to the public. Two swans live in 3 ponds that span approximately 4 acres. During the year, migrating osprey, bald eagles, cormorants and blue herons stop to fish for bluegill or bass. Read on to learn more about this rare opportunity!
Luther Village is a retirement community in Arlington Heights. Enter on Village Drive and head for a building called Wittenberg Commons. There will be volunteers with yellow vests and light sticks directing traffic and pointing out parking spaces. Those visitors with special needs will be directed to front entrance parking, and the rest will be parking along the street in various spots designated as “bays”. Be prepared to explore several gardens with a beautiful pond as a backdrop!
People will be encouraged to walk up to the front of the building and veer right on a path under an overhead walkway connecting all the buildings. Please notice the large fountain in front. This is the peaceful and pretty Spiritual Enrichment Garden. The traditional planting here is easy care knock out roses and daylilies.
After crossing under the walkway, there is a Village Grill patio on the left where visitors can sign in and obtain a map to prepare for this visit. There will be refreshments served on the patio and tables and chairs for rest and relaxation. In fact, there are many spots along the way to rest and enjoy the views. This patio is surrounded by millennium alliums, hostas and small shrubs. A landscape company takes care of the grounds, and all of the garden beds are tended by a group of 12 to 20 resident volunteers. Three or four of them are Master Gardeners. Rick has been the Director of Operations here for the past 4 1/2 years. He is also a resident of Arlington Heights and an amateur photographer. Rick has taken many amazing shots of the insect and wildlife observed here on the property.
The three 4-acre ponds range from 5 to 20 feet in depth. As they are stocked with bass and blue gill, a fishing derby is held every year for residents and family members to enjoy with 300 to 400 people attending. The pond has been home for the last 3 years to a pair of swans named Victoria and Albert. They have 9 eggs this year which should be hatched by the day of the walk. Look for the cygnets swimming around with their parents. Luther Village has had swans in the pond for 20 years. Fred and Ethel were the previous resident swans. Victoria and Albert have 9 or 10 eggs every year true to their namesakes. There are also many, many birds in this area. In additions to the fishing birds mentioned above, smaller songbirds such as goldfinches, house finches, orioles, and many types of warblers find food here.
Head left past the Village Grill patio, and you will come to a bridge near the butterfly garden which is the pride and joy of the community. There are many species of butterfly such as swallowtails, monarchs, and painted ladies. There are also hummingbirds flitting about and beehouses are located in all the gardens. The entire complex is certified as a Wildlife Habitat, but this area in particular is an official Monarch Waystation. There are 5 different types of milkweeds not to mention penstemon, witch hazel, coreopsis, baptisia, daisy fleabane…the list goes on. Many of the plants have name tags to aid in identification for visitors.
Continue on the path towards a summer house which will be open to visitors. There are more tables and chairs for resting and public restrooms are available in the building. To the left on the other side of the path are raised beds. There are 32 in total…16 on each side of a building called the pump house. This year 60 people applied to the lottery to obtain a raised bed. These beds contain many tomato plants, green beans, eggplants and flowers too. Near the Summer house is the Veteran’s garden. When a veteran passes, the flag of the branch of the miliary in which they served is flown for 5 days as a tribute. Sit and relax on this patio and enjoy the view. The planting here has a red, white and blue flowers by the flag and low care daylilies. Large containers are scattered around the patio.
Further along the path next to another bridge is a cutting garden. A box of scissors and clippers are left out for residents to help themselves to flowers. All they have to supply is the vase. Rick takes flowers to residents who are sick and stuck indoors although he feels guilty cutting the beautiful blooms. There are zinnias, salvia, cosmos, dahlias, marigolds. portulaca, sweet william, iris, and daisies.
The pond area is surrounded by mid-rises each with 120 units. There are 100 hanging baskets on the light poles along the pathways. Visitors are encouraged to stay on the paved path that circles the large ponds. Please do not walk up to the private resident gardens near the buildings. Other than this small request, everyone is free to walk wherever they wish around the pond. Be sure not to miss the second cutting garden along the street as you exit. It is tiered with large knockout roses on the raised section.
Take your time. Enjoy the water cascade near the bridge. Sit, relax and do a little bird watching.
2. A Children’s Garden
This garden in tended by a young couple and their 2 children. Scott and Katie moved into this home in 2013. In spring of 2014, they started creating their garden. The trees, yews and forsythia shrubs were already there, so Katie planned her vision amongst them. Over time, Katie and Scott had two children who help them maintain the garden. Kitt is 2, and he prefers watering and digging in the dirt. Oliver (nicknamed Little Monty Don) is 5 and knows the name of every plant in the yard. If he is outside, visitors may be treated with his knowledge...as long as there are no bees nearby; Oliver does not like stinging insects.
The front of their home faces west. The second story window boxes have nasturtiums of all colors. A huge hollow tree was taken down this spring. Where there once was shade there is now sun until a replacement tree is planted. So far, the hostas are holding up. To the right of the steps Katie has a red and white color palette. Below a red Japanese maple is a red wagon with red and white impatiens. In the ground surrounding the tree, are hostas and lance corporal jumpseed which look like hostas. The jumpseed have some red in the green leaves to go along with the red and white color theme. To the left of the porch are fragrant lily trees which should be blooming during the garden walk.
Along the driveway to the back yard notice all the plants along the fence. Every square inch of space is used in this garden. There are creeping phlox, lavender, clematis and a climbing rose. Katie’s passion is flowers, but Scott is in charge of growing vegetables. Scott’s raised vegetable garden is at the end of the driveway next to the garage door. He also built the compost bin behind the raised bed.
Katie is influenced by English Gardener, Monty Don, American horticulturalist Rachel Lambert Mellon (Bunny Mellon), Tasha Tudor, and the French painter Monet. Her small garden is divided into sections. Close to the house is a porch that was built by Scott and her father. There are a table and chairs where they enjoy eating meals under the shade of a mature maple tree. Katie draws inspiration from garden books. She will display some of her garden books on the table for visitors to enjoy, and their influence on her garden is evident in every photo.
Katie and Scott purchased used Purington Brick Company pavers from Craigslist. Scott created a path that extends through the garden, and is lit by a string of lights overhead. When Katie first moved here, her dream was to have an English cottage garden along this path. She planted cottage style plants and then discovered the whole area was shaded by the maple tree. In true garden fashion, she adjusted her vision and moved those plants to other areas of the yard. The section of the yard under the maple tree is now called a woodland garden. Many plants will not be in bloom during the walk, but the area is planted for all seasons. There are jacobs ladder, astilbe, bleeding heart, tulips, and Virginia bluebells.
Scott put together a raised playhouse for the kids; this is the boys play area although they run through the entire yard. Gnomes are scattered throughout the yard. There is a connection here to last year’s garden walk. Katie and her kids toured 2021’s “Fairies in the garden”, and received a gift of painted rocks from that homeowner’s grandchildren. Throughout the garden you can see hollow branches used as planters. These came from the tree that was cut down in the front yard. Katie and Scott don’t let anything go to waste.
The middle of the yard past the crabapple tree is the cottage garden. It receives morning sun for 6 hours. Here Katie has delphinium, a mock orange shrub, mophead and lacecap hydrangea, columbine, foxglove, Shasta daisies, hardy geraniums, roses and Asiatic lilies. Katie buys bare root roses. They require more patience because they take more time to mature, but they are less expensive and she is able to have unusual varieties like her damask rose which survived the winter. Katie is planting for the future. Next to the garage a flagstone patio with Adirondack chairs is sheltered from the sun under an overhead structure. Notice the sign hanging on the garage window “Welcome to Our Backyard Oasis”. Behind the sign a photo of a beach covers the window. This area incorporates flagstone and stones found around the property. They are put to good use here.
Behind the oasis is the Monet water garden. Katie did not want a pond because of the children, so she opted to bring water in with rain chains and bird baths. There is an emerald green gate that leads to a Japanese foot bridge and a secret path. The gate and arbor use to be covered by a wisteria vine that was just reaching the age to flower when tragedy struck in the form of a rabbit. He ate the wisteria vine near the base. It is coming back, but Katie will have to wait several more years for flowers. Every gardener has been there and can feel her pain.
The hostas beside the Japanese footbridge are decorated with ceramic lilies to simulate waterlilies under a true Japanese footbridge. The emerald green of the bridge and the gate are taken right out of one of her Monet Garden art books. This is Monet’s take on a Japanese garden. The back of the garage is where Scott does his seed starting. Follow this path behind and around the garage to exit the garden.
Katie believes it is very important to have children help in the garden. The boys planted all of the annuals, painted the colorful pots and helped make the circle stepping stones with leaf prints leading to their playhouse. She wants the garden to be a place for them to learn and explore at their own pace. If they find a seed, they plant it in a pot to find out what will grow. When they come across a bug or plant that interests them, they ask questions to learn more about it. Katie feels the garden is a unique place where science and the imagination meet and if you love something, you want to protect it. This garden is truly a family affair.
3. Full Sun Garden at Last!
After their 3 children moved away from home, Sue and Steve downsized to a ranch house on a corner lot in September of 2015. Sue was an experienced gardener, but her previous garden experience was in shade gardening. Their new home was full sun, so Sue became like a kid in a candy store with all the options available to her.
One of their friends was a landscaper and another a garden designer. These two friends joined forces in the summer of 2016 to turn Sue’s vision into reality. Sue’s only criteria were privacy (corner lots do not offer much in the way of privacy, but we here at the garden club love them…the better to scope out a beautiful garden), and an American garden with no particular theme...just beautiful plants. The two friends implemented a design with hardscaping and evergreens and shrubs for structure. Sue then filled in the blanks with sun loving perennials. Best of all they are all still friends after the project was finished!
This home faces south. It is surrounded by 5 mature parkway trees; one of which is an oak. The porch has beautiful pots with shade loving annuals and a huge fern. The porch is surrounded by Japanese Maple, burning bush, a blue spruce and yews. There are red hot pokers to the right of the garage door where the sun hits them just perfectly.
Start the tour to the left of the garage. The garage wall is lined by arctic fox dogwoods, and a grow bag with a tomato plant. The clematis, shrub rose and ground cover are original to the house. If anyone can identify the ground cover, please let Sue know. This past winter Sue sprinkled poppy seeds among the ground cover. At the corner of the garage, notice the miniature Mt. Rushmore. The previous owner had an outdoor train set that ran throughout the garden. This plaque was left behind as an homage to that owner. Steve had to dig up the underground tubing that housed the electronics for the train set. Then he built a wooden deck near the back door, and installed a lovely wall mounted water feature. Not to mention his impressive water barrel system which Sue uses to water the garden!
This garden wraps around the entire backyard, continues out the other side and around the house to the front again. Sue is a busy gardener. Their home is separated from the neighbors by a row of arborvitae. A section of the house previously used for a hot tub is now heated and has become Sue and Steve’s favorite place to sit and enjoy the beautiful view of the garden.
Stroll through the garden and notice the variety of plants. The west side is the butterfly garden decorated with a bird bath, wooden screens and an armillary sphere. There are peonies and red riding hood penstemon, and alliums. Sue and Steve placed plant tags out to help with identification.
Other plants of interest in the garden are serviceberry shrubs, hyssop, blue star amsonia, fothergilla, azalea, and a hosta. Along the arborvitae is a row of lavender plants, a crabapple tree, and a dwarf linden tree. The linden tree was from the previous owner. It was growing in a pot. Most of his plants were grown in pots sunk into the ground to keep them small for the railroad.
There are too many plants to list. This neat and tidy garden truly inspires garden envy!
4. Outside/In lifestyle
This is a special garden that will require a little effort on the part of the visitor. This home is on a cul-de-sac. Only 7 cars can park in the cul-de-sac at one time, so it would be easier to park on Vista Road or Burr Oak Dr. and enjoy a short walk to the house. All the homes are beautiful and the street is tree lined, so the walk should be a pleasant one.
Linda and Dan moved into their home in 1998 and immediately started creating a garden. Linda grew up on a farm in Indiana, so she was not afraid to start digging up the lawn although it shocked Dan a little. Linda takes care of the day-to-day chores, and Dan does much of the pruning. They are very much a team. The house started out as a traditional colonial, but Linda and Dan have given the front a mission style twist. A blue slate sidewalk leads to a covered front entry. In spring, this sidewalk is surrounded by bulbs. There is a red cutleaf Japanese maple to the right of the porch and a large flowering crab to the left. Under the crab tree are many Asiatic lilies.
Start the tour of this garden by walking to the right of the garage past a clematis growing on an arbor. Pass through a fence 20 inches high with a small gate. This fence is just tall enough to contain 2 bulldogs. The garden wraps around the back of the house and comes out on the other side. The home has rooms with large windows because Linda is very much a 4-season gardener. She can see all parts of her yard in all seasons. Even in winter with snow on all the different levels, it is beautiful.
Linda and Dan are great believers of the value of hardscaping. They worked with their hardscaper, Raul, and picked out stonework, boulders, and trees to frame the garden. 5 narrow oak trees and a long row of beautiful columnar hornbeam trees form the backdrop of the garden beds. They also provide privacy from the neighbors. The plants range from spring bulbs, summer perennials, and fall flowering mums and asters. For winter interest, there is a beautiful blue spruce shrub that is 5 years old, and a small orange tinted evergreen shrub that seems to glow in the sun. Linda has 8 tree peonies of various ages scattered throughout the garden. This is a full sun yard. The garden beds throughout the yard contain Shasta daisies, zinnias, phlox, liatris, magnolias, and lilac trees.
Circle around the house and notice how the garden wraps around the front of a basketball court. There is a tri-color beech on each corner and in the middle is a lollipop flowering crab with asters at the base, and a dappled willow. Dan prunes the willow religiously to keep it sized correctly.
Overlooking the basketball court is the family deck. The yard behind the house was sloped, so Linda and Dan terraced it with beautiful flagstone retaining walls that have planting beds tucked into the rocks. They created a deck that is more like an outdoor room. Feel free to climb up to the deck and explore. Linda has planted pots all around, and there is a fire pit on the deck carved from a large stone by Raul. It is connected to a gas line for easy use. The deck is tiled with a terrazzo like tile that has held up very well. The right side of the deck has an overhang that covers a seating area. Retractable screens come down when needed to create a 3-season room that keeps out the bugs.
The planting beds amongst the rocks of the deck contain mums, sedum, creeping thyme, a mini gingko tree and asters. Circle around the deck and exit the garden through another bulldog size gate. This way leads past Linda’s vegetable garden planted next to the house, and ends up back on the driveway at the front of the house.
Linda and Dan’s 2 children no longer live at home. These empty nesters share their house with their two bulldogs Chip and Tyson—hence the 20-inch fences. While Linda’s daughter may not have been enthusiastic about helping in the garden when she was young, she was definitely influenced by it. She now is married, and her first comment to Linda when she purchased her own home was “Mom, I need to fix up my yard!”.
5. A Butterfly Paradise
Is everyone aware the Arlington Heights Library is maintaining a butterfly/pollinator garden? Terri, a Library employee approached Ron, the Library Bookmobile Driver, to see if he would be willing to start a butterfly garden for the library. Ron was known to have an interest in pollinator plants in his own home garden. An interest? Ron keeps a journal of what insects and birds visit his yard, when they visit and which plants they are visiting. He also logs when these various plants emerge in the spring. He is an observer. 3 years ago, Ron and Terri worked on a proposal for a butterfly garden, and went through all the appropriate channels at the library to obtain approval.
The butterfly garden is south of the Main entrance on Dunton below the metal sculpture. This sculpture called “Book of Dreams” was donated by the Friends of the Library. This area between two flowering shrubs is approximately 5 feet deep and was covered in an evergreen ground cover such as English Ivy. The ivy was ripped out by the volunteers, and a butterfly garden was born. This area has several types of milkweeds: butterfly weed, common milkweed, swamp milkweed, and tropical milkweed. The tropical milkweed blooms all year like a zinnia. Ron also grows bee balm, dill, yarrow, phlox, columbine, zinnias and asters in this section. When the other plants are done flowering, zinnias keep the show going until frost. Hummingbirds and insects love the zinnias too which makes them a very versatile plant.
The initial garden was such a success that last year they obtained permission to extend it to the left of the flowering shrubs. In this section, they planted hostas, an unidentified daisy plant, liatris, cuphea, black and blue salvia, guara, cardinal flower, Shasta daisy and many more. Next year they will extend it further left again, so the garden will eventually run the entire length of the building. These new sections are approximately 10 feet deep. Ron is currently observing the far left section to monitor sun patterns and see what types of shrubs are growing there now. The shrubs are original to the building and have been neglected for a period of time.
Today there are 7 Library employees who volunteer to maintain the garden, one of whom is a naturalist. The Friends of the Library fund this project, and Ron’s home garden functions like a nursery. He collects the milkweed pods and plants these seeds in his own yard. When a plant is mature, he moves it to the library. Ron likes to have a couple different generations of plants. Other contributors are Bill Koch from Hawthorn Gardens, (a long time sponsor of the Arl. Hts Garden Club) who offered to let Ron keep some of the more tender plants in his greenhouses over the winter.
Many generous hearts are responsible for this beautiful butterfly garden. This is truly a labor of love. Stop by and observe the various bees and butterflies such as monarchs and painted lady, or enjoy the hummingbirds that frequent the garden.
6. The Designer’s Garden
(There is a connection here to the home on last year’s garden walk called “A Poet’s Garden”. That homeowner was inspired by his neighbor. We’re pleased to now introduce you to his neighbor, Victoria who has written the following:
The story of this garden is the story of the Garden-Makers who became the first occupants of the u-shaped brick ranch in 1953. Coming to a new subdivision from Chicago, they made the place their own, with a play lawn for their three boys, a vegetable and rhubarb patch, some arbs, and a few shade trees. Grandpa gave them an apple tree. One of the boys liberated five Balsam firs from their native soil when returning from a family fishing trip in Northern Wisconsin. Those five trees still rim the northeast corner of the backyard, and their pointed Christmas tree shape (with characteristic fragrance) is visible from the front yard. Supplemental watering helps mimic cooler Northern Wisconsin growing conditions. A small willow tree was planted on the south face of the garage. It grew into a living bonsai, stretching almost entirely across Miner Street. When this landmark was cut down by the Village of Arl. Hts., a huge crowd of neighbors watched, silently. I replaced it with a prostrate pine which was growing on Beverly Lane.
When my partner and I (the boy who had leapt over the little arborvitae planted on each corner) came to be the only residents, in 1988, I designed a series of pathways while looking out my bedroom window at the backyard. Those pathways remain today. Coming from New York City, experiencing the long, cold Midwestern winters, I was prompted to create scenes of year-round interest, and I had loved the pines since my summer days at Long Island beaches, treed with shore pine. I still suggest to design clients that they search their memory for places where they were happy.
The first thirty years formed an essentially naturalistic backyard garden- no lawn, just the forest floor, with tall, inclined Tanyosho pines to rest beneath. I started a redesign in 2018, using pines and various other types of cone-bearing trees (conifers), to provide a harmony of shades of green, changing color with the seasons. The spring flush of new growth is the most lush and beautiful time- May and June are the months when the “candles” (new growth at the tips) start to come out. The elongating candles may be pruned at this time to reduce growth and increase the tree’s density.
The object in staging the collection is the pleasing juxtaposition of forms (shapes) and textures, as well as shades of color. The small fish pond, tucked in within view of both bedroom windows from above, allows for observing the fish without startling them. They provide the brightest colors in the garden.
The patio was redone in 2021, and is now being completed, after the removal of two of the remaining “corner” arbs. The feature trees are dwarf spruces and Japanese white pines. Having had an interest in both Asian philosophy and gardening style since my teens, I have absorbed those influences, along with the mentoring of my friends, Rich and Susie Eyre, founders and retired owners of Foxwillow Pines Nursery. I learned that a conifer exists to solve every design situation. The style at my personal residence has been called austere, and I welcome that comparison.
Trees come and go from my front yard, both design lab and nursery. I removed most in 2015, due to sewer excavation, but replanted with mature specimens, so it now seems well-established. Almost every tree, including the very tall ones throughout the yard, has been selected and planted by me. My neighbors have been kind enough to allow me to extend my design influence to their yards, as well.
Educational and inspirational signage completes the picture. Only a few vista points allow a view into my private sanctuary, whose sustaining metaphor is, “Intimacy and Enclosure.” Come, take the path less traveled by, just for the day.