The Historical Society of Forest Park crowned the winner of its inaugural House and Garden Walk on July 19, naming John Sahli and Rick Wagner’s home on the 100 block of Elgin as “Best in Show” among the seven houses featured.
The nearly 110 attendees who walked the homes chose Sahli and Wagner’s house as tops. Wagner said he believes the pair’s collection of more than 500 colored coleus plants pushed their garden over the edge. Coleus plants can include small leaves with ruffled ends or large leaves with bold margins, and feature colors that span the rainbow, green to violet to red.
“I’ve been hooked on them all my life, my grandpa had them in his garden,” Wagner said, adding: “I feel elated.”
Sahli said he had never thought about planting coleus’ before he met Wagner, but now he’s stopped counting how many are in his backyard. He said he’s proud of his garden –“planting the coleus’ has been a labor of love,” he said — and that this will be the first award the duo’s space has ever received. Jessica Combe Luciano, founder of Creativita, presented the two with a handcrafted cement plaque acknowledging their first-place finish, and local entrepreneur Marty Sorice donated food and drinks to the celebration.
“Other than family and a few friends no one’s ever been to our house,” Wagner said. “It’s been great to be able to share it with the community.”
Houses featured were located across the north and south sides of town, and included bird feeders, in-home elevators, monarch butterfly nests and much more.
“You all know everyone has an amazing house,” said Chris Everett, vice president of the Historical Society, who spearheaded the event.
She said this year’s walk raised nearly $3,000 for the group, which they plan to invest in raising awareness about the Historical Society and organizing other events, like the Rat Pack of Roosevelt Road pub crawl coming up on September 14. Everett aims to make the House and Garden Walk an annual event, and said she’s already gotten enough submissions to fill up next year’s stroll. She said there will be at least a three-year break between houses featured from year to year.
“If you haven’t been to all these houses, I promise you need to see them,” she said to the about 30 attendees of the awards ceremony.
“Come over anytime,” Wagner invited the crowd.
This article has been updated to reflect that Chris Everett is the vice president of the Historical Society.