CONGRATS: Hailey Rodden (left) and Donna Kruse, the 2021 Historical Society Garden Walk “Best in Show” winners. | Courtesy Alexis Ellers

With peach trees bearing their summer fruit, snap dragons proudly flashing their soft summer color and tomatoes ripening, the Historical Society Garden Walk took place over the weekend featuring 8 gorgeous gardens in the village. The walk, maturing in its own rite, in its fourth year, attracted 300 neighbors near and far to the intimate spaces created throughout the village.

The legacy of the Troost monument company family homes along Troost Avenue and the century old stone patio with fireplace took the attendees back in time. Redefining the uses of a small garden space with the height of vertical plantings and horticultural curiosities with ecologically sustainable natives, even a rare Kankakee mallow provided the bookends of the tours on the south and north ends of town. The Marengo row of homes included a detailed garden experience tour with a hot tub under the canopy of peach and pear trees. Water features, nooks for reading, entertaining and sipping were created in the spaces unexpectedly.

The honor of best in show was selected from the attendees who narrowly selected the cottage style garden of the most elder of the tour. Donna Kruse – her garden was featured in the 1990’s tour — has been an avid gardener at that corner for 50 years. Although originally declining the invitation to be on the walk, because “as I get older it is hard to keep up, I am 87 years old, it’s hard to bend down for those weeds.” She changed her mind when her granddaughter, Halley Rodden offered to help with the garden to have it showcased for the weekend. Together they worked to add new colors and depth to the long-established garden. This garden not only attracts native insects, birds and butterflies, it also attracts a new generation of neighbors from homes and apartments in the area who come to enjoy the comforts of the corner cottage and the fellowship that the space.

With over 25 volunteers the walk was arranged by Kristen Lyons, board member of the historical society and is the most significant fundraiser of the year for the group. The interconnections between the distinctive personal styles, passions and spaces created a layer of beauty and inspiration to the guests and showcased the charm that is uniquely Forest Park.