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Stroll through seven serene spaces at annual garden walk

The University of Illinois Extension Master Gardeners seventh annual Garden Walk and Plant Sale will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 12, rain or shine. Seven gardens have been chosen for this year’s event. The plant sale will include a Garden Boutique and a Master Gardener Helpdesk.

The featured gardens are all in the DeKalb-Sycamore-Kirkland area. They are the gardens of Pam and Steve Dively of Sycamore, Pat and Steve Faivre of Sycamore, Janet and Steve Miller of Kirkland, Sheryl Nakonechny of DeKalb, Cherie and Dave Sanderson of Sycamore, Carol and Dan Wilson of DeKalb, and the Mayor’s Garden in DeKalb.

Tickets for the Garden Walk cost $10 in advance or $12 the day of the event. There is no admission charge for the plant sale, which will be held at the DeKalb County Center for Agriculture (Farm Bureau building), 1350 W. Prairie Drive in Sycamore.

Tickets are available at the University of Illinois Extension Office, Blumen Gardens, DeKalb Florist, and the Garden Market in Sycamore. Proceeds support University of Illinois Extension programs.

For more information, call the Extension office at 815-758-8194.

Following is a brief description of each garden on the walk.

Miller garden

Steve and Janet Miller of Kirkland have been in their present home only a little over three years but they arrived as experienced gardeners.

They have a country garden, with a forested area covering several acres which provides lots of shade. In an open area Steve has laid out a homemade golf course. There is a dry creek with a bridge, several birdhouses and a rustic arbor. The forested area covers several acres and includes walnut, hickory, ash, oak and basswood and is carpeted with native plants.

In the side yard is a working chicken coop. Most of the gardens surrounding the house are perennials.

Sanderson garden

Steve and Cherie Sanderson of Sycamore began to garden more than 25 years ago when they had to decide what to do with a dead spot in the lawn left from an old propane tank. They filled that dead spot with a few annual flower seeds and the rest is history.

The Sanderson gardens are located in a rural setting in Mayfield Township, northwest of Sycamore. The design of the landscape over the years has been to develop areas of the property to allow for entertaining, rest and relaxation, and enjoy the endless views of the countryside.

The main focal point of the garden is a small garden shed which is used year round. There are both sun and shade perennial beds, accented with bright-colored potted annuals. Hostas provide great texture to the shade gardens and potted hostas are located throughout the property. A potted hosta that can’t be missed is “Sun and Substance.”

Country life can dish out some great views, but it also can be relentless on wind exposure. Plants are chosen to withstand hot, dry and windy conditions. Garden art and accents have to be sturdy and strong. Most of the garden furniture has been made with wind issues in mind. Benches, tables and chairs are all made out of heavy-duty lumber. Many garden art pieces come from the farm. They include antique farm gates, cement field tiles and wagon wheels.

Dively garden

Steve and Pam Dively of Sycamore have been gardening for more than 30 years, but a mere 20 at their present location. Their garden is a constant work in progress, always changing.

Steve has a degree in horticulture with emphasis on turf management. He designed the layout when they moved in and over the years has added perennials and grasses to the basic layout. They once had vegetable gardens but now that they are empty nesters, they mix in various herbs, carrots, peppers, beets, pole beans and tomatoes with everything else, which adds color throughout the season, as well as provides good eating.

The garden is cottage style, with a combination of sun and shade. The shade area is populated with hostas, as well as shade annuals added for color. There are water features, ornamental grasses, birdhouses and feeders, and a mounding perennial garden in the sun in front of the house.

Pam’s favorite addition in the past few years is a number of fairy gardens, some peeking out from the landscaping and some in containers.

The Divelys have many memories over the years of the changes that occurred to make the garden what it is today. The most memorable was several years ago when Steve decided to kill the grass completely and reseed. Due to a heat spell and drought, the yard looked like “chopped wheat” for longer than they expected. It was the attraction of the neighborhood.

Faivre garden

Pat Faivre of Sycamore has been gardening all her life, while she and her husband Steve have been working on their current Somonauk Street, Sycamore, location for only 5 years. The Faivres’ garden consists of neatly arranged native prairie plants, herbs, shade plants and vegetables. Additionally, there are several trees and woodland spring wildflowers originating from Steve’s grandmother’s garden. The natives found in the garden were originally planned and planted by Blumen Gardens.

Visitors will find many structures made with bricks from the St. Albans Chapel formerly located on the site of the Faivre home. They saved the bricks they found while excavating for their home 5 years ago. On the back patio they have mounted one of the bells from the St. Albans complex. Other features of the garden include three rain barrels and a large compost pile.

As a board-certified acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist, Pat Faivre has been collecting specimens of herbs that she uses in her work. Visitors will be given a guide to the medicinal herbs – both traditional Chinese herbs and Western native herbs – planted in their gariden.

Wilson garden

Dan and Carol Wilson of DeKalb have been gardening for 30 years – 20 of those at their present home. Their garden is casual, cottage style and is designed to be attractive to the grandchildren as well as enjoyable for the whole family.

One of the highlights is a pond circled by a miniature railway. The garden is colorful with flowers, but there is plenty of shade, too. There are curving stone paths around the perimeter of the fenced yard and berms everywhere.

The Wilsons are particularly fond of a number of antiques from both of their parents’ yards.

Nakonechny garden

Sheryl Nakonechny of DeKalb has been gardening for 20 years, the last seven in her present garden located on a DeKalb city lot surrounded by a white picket fence and framed by day lilies. Sheryl refers to her garden as “eclectic,” featuring perennials, a shade garden with a variety of hostas, and a variety of trees.

With her motto being, “You can always move it,” Sheryl says her garden is constantly evolving. A large elm, hawthorn and gingko trees provide shade for hostas ranging in size from miniature to elephant. Japanese maples are used as accents. Smaller sun gardens feature coneflowers, roses, beardtongue, sage and more. A path on the side of the home leads the visitor through rose arbors and a variety of hydrangea.

Iron decorative features include a unique “baby bed for hydrangea,” and a brick patio provides a seating area off the back of the home.

Mayor’s Community Garden

Dan Kenney, executive director of DeKalb County Community Gardens, refers to the Mayor’s Community Garden on the corner of South Fifth and Franklin streets as an edible landscape and children’s garden. Started late in the summer of 2012, the Mayor’s Community Garden features arbors created from tree limbs and small tree trunks, raised vegetable beds, as well as tepee-shaped arbors providing seating for young children. One of the arbors has benches so that visitors may sit and enjoy the garden.

Once a vacant lot owned by the city of DeKalb, the corner has been transformed by DeKalb County Community Gardens into an edible park. An herb bed provides lavender, rosemary, mint, oregano and chives. Greens include kale and lettuce mixtures. The gardens include an asparagus bed, as well as gooseberry and service berry. A walnut tree provides walnuts, and DCCG is hoping to tap the maple trees on the property and use the sap. Students from the DeKalb County Youth Service Bureau have designed and built a pizza garden in the children’s area. By involving youth, adults and seniors, the lot has become a gathering place and focal point for the neighborhood.

In 2013, DeKalb County Community Gardens was visited by judges for America in Bloom, an international trade association, and was chosen as the best and most “dynamic” community garden project in North America by the judges who toured more than 28 cities in the U.S. and Canada.

Kenney’s fondest memories of the Mayor’s Community Garden include the early spring 2013 day when both the outgoing and newly elected mayors of DeKalb came together with about 30 volunteers to dedicate the garden, and the many volunteers who have helped to design and build the garden.

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