Fresh ideas growing in five Lisle gardens
Fresh new ideas grow at the Lisle Woman's Club annual Garden Gait Walk. Five amazing gardens will inspire and energize visitors, while supporting the club's scholarship and philanthropic work.
The event begins with a craft and vendors fair from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, June 12, at the Museums at Lisle Station Park, 921 School St., Lisle. There are also raffle baskets with gift cards. Self-guided private garden tours are from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Allow a minimum of 30 minutes to view each garden. Details are at LisleGardenGait.net.
Tickets cost $17 at the door but are $15 if purchased by June 11 at local businesses. Garden tour maps come with a Garden Gait ticket, but here is a sneak preview.
Linda and George Skulavik
Visiting the lush garden of Linda and George Skulavik, it is difficult to believe that when the family had their house built 40 years ago, they were the first house in their area. Now in the middle of suburbia, their garden is an inviting oasis. All the substantial trees were planted as seedlings by Linda's father, who shared his gardening know-how with his daughter.
Linda carefully positions all her stunning plants and decorative pieces to delight visitors. Try to find the 4-foot metal bicycle, a small tea service set for the grandchildren, or a former metal arbor that now serves as two eye-catching trellises.
A collection of bird houses serve both decorative and practical uses, and recently drew a visit from a Baltimore oriole. Tomato plants growing in large pots are positioned among the flowers. A special pocketbook plant is featured near the climbing green beans and cucumbers.
Throughout the yard, 15 clematis bloom. The couple is so selective that each spring they travel to Michigan for the perfect hanging baskets. In addition to the rear patio, the family enjoys a second charming patio room complete with window holes trimmed with shutters and flower boxes.
"Enjoy what you are doing," Linda advises new gardeners. "Create something that makes you happy."
Diane Tuscher-Ancede and Alvaro Ancede
Diane Tuscher-Ancede's love for growing things encouraged her to study and became a University of Illinois Extension Office Master Gardener.
With a house situated on almost three acres of land with an estimated 75 trees, Diane's interests in gardening started simply with a single chive plant from her neighbor. Now her flourishing garden has numerous similar stories. There are healthy patches of Solomon Seal, Gooseneck Loosestrife and Joe-Pye weed, along with lemon balm, irises, allium, lilies of the valley and an estimated 50 kinds of hostas that flow in color tones from deep blue green to neon yellow greens.
The original owner of the property told the couple that a number of the trees on the property were from a local bank that gave customers a free tree with a deposit.
Among Diane's plant favorites are the Alabama Crimson Trumpet Honeysuckle that attracts hummingbirds, and a very large Sum and Substance hosta. Alliums with large flower heads are scattered throughout the garden thanks to visiting critters.
A once-neglected one-horse stable is now a charming space for entertaining. Decorative lights trim arbors and several chandeliers sway from trees.
Diane offers this insight to her success: "I dig a hole and put in some dried leaves and hope that the decomposing and air helps the roots to get going."
Vasi and Fannie Stambolis
When Vasi and Fannie Stambolis had their house built in 1994 on a small hill, they also had professionals build terraces to accommodate the property's incline. The multiple levels that overflow with interesting plant materials are accessible by both brick walks and flagstone paths that meander through the area. Although the basics of the garden were designed by landscape specialists, the couple are both active gardeners.
There is no grass. A charming man-made cascading creek and pond is trimmed with bleeding hearts, ferns and astilbe. An interesting patch of purple irises anchored near the pond were yellow for many years, but this year chose to return to their original purple color.
"I cannot explain why the color returned," Fannie said, "but it did. I had a large area of daisies in the front that after 20 years did not return, and a patch of dianthus that is supposed to be an annual but keeps returning year after year."
Endless summer hydrangeas are prolific and a fringe tree offers a lovely smell when it blooms.
Fannie's advice to gardeners: "If a plant does not like its location, it will not come back, so move it to a more favorable location and it will reward you."
Kim and Cheryl Schlytter
In the 39 years Kim and Cheryl Schlytter have owned their home, the gardeners enhanced the original farm property into a green garden lush with deep pinks, purples, fuchsia and mahogany in a variety of different leaf shapes and plant textures.
Starting in the front yard, the Lisle couple built a tall fence at the far corner of their house to hide the garden hose. Upon the wall, Boston ivy grows and three colorful hanging pots showcase the garden's color scheme. When a tall linden tree that shaded the area fell, the couple reassessed their plants and changed most to sun-loving varieties.
Both side yards of the house have distinctive looks. Kim built the rustic wood ramp and flower boxes that gently accommodate the walk from the backyard to a lovely enclosed side deck. Take a peek inside to find a treasured Christmas cactus spending the summer outdoors.
The bark-covered path in the other side yard passes an artistic wood trellis where clematis grow. A blue stone patio is set off with brick trim and a rock garden. Twice these hands-on gardeners have called in professional help when needed. They advise others "to interview a number of companies and carefully choose the one who enhances your ideas with a beautiful plan."
Chuck and Cindy Badtke
There were two trees and huge overgrown evergreens when Chuck and Cindy Badtke purchased their home on a half-acre lot 30 years ago. Today, the garden is a Certified Wildlife Habitat of the National Wildlife Federation and the couple affectionately calls it Wheelbarrow Hill Garden.
Cindy grew up in a gardening family. Her father was a natural gardener long before it was commonplace. Many of the garden's peonies and hostas came from her parents' yard.
When a huge maple went down in the front yard, Plan B included planting a Wedgewood blue lilac bush, large purple alliums and Annabelle hydrangeas along with a special wood wheelbarrow Chuck built. A self-seed perennial that tolerates heat and shade, Corydalis lutea, or yellow corydalis, is one of Cindy's favorite. Another is a small accent baby ginkgo tree called Chase Manhattan.
Commanding the rear yard is a multilevel deck that visitors often refer to as a tree house. The storage shed is a little red barn complete with a colorful painted quilt square and two covered compost piles. For a retro farm look, center stage is a 20-foot-tall windmill.
A row of raspberry bushes and an arbor subtly point to the vegetable garden entrance.
"Do not take on more than you can handle," Cindy advises new gardeners. "Start with what you love, vegetables or flowers, and start small."
• Joan Broz writes about Lisle. Her column appears monthly in Neighbor.
If you goWhat: Lisle Woman's Club Garden Gait garden walk
Why: Proceeds support scholarships and philanthropic programs
When: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, June 12; craft and vendor fair from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Where: Five houses in Lisle, map comes with tickets; craft fair at Museums at Lisle Station Park, 921 School St., Lisle
Cost: $17 at the craft fair, $15 in advance from local businesses