Wicker Park Garden Club members teach and inspire for next season's gardens


Dining Area designed and created by Paula Collins

While the 10,000 square feet of award winning ornamental gardens in Wicker Park rest under a blanket of snow, Wicker Park Garden Club’s members are active and teaching the Landscape Design Workshop to students who come to the workshop with the intention of creating great gardens for their homes, parks, churches, vacant lots and businesses. 


Students and teachers all engaged in creating spaces

Forty-six students, five landscape designers and fifteen teaching assistants from thirty-two zip codes have committed to attend the workshop this winter in the Wicker Park Field House for seven Saturday mornings from January 11 to February 22 from 10 a.m. to noon. 


The class has been offered for six years; the Wicker Park gardeners enjoy reaching out to eager landscape design enthusiasts from all over the region and working with them to create new and exciting landscapes for Chicagoland as they create long lasting connections with those individuals and their communities. 


This is an exciting, vibrant, and productive yearly event for all involved - a forum to learn, create and develop skills for design and instruction. In addition, it provides a source of funding to maintain the gardens in Wicker Park. Furthermore, many former students have become teaching assistants; others have gone back to their communities and become teachers to inspire others to create.


This year many of the students are designing various styles of home gardens and parkways for themselves or others, while several students are creating designs for their communities. 

One student is working on creating two memorial gardens. Teams of students from the neighborhoods of West Humboldt Park, Hyde Park, Garfield Park, the South Loop and Logan Square are working to create designs for vacant lots, schools, and parks.


Doug Wood and Bill Morrisett Grass Area

Their goals include areas for food production, for the use of ornamental plants – restful areas, visual art installation, performance, education and farmer’s markets.  They would like to see their designs realized and become inspirational to others in their communities to create EVEN MORE green, sustainable and viable community focal points to revitalize their community spirits. Jens Jensen would praise their work as they fulfill their and his goals of realizing Chicago as The City in the Garden.

Instructors & Topics Addressed

  • Ellen ModerhackChoosing and Laying Out the Features of that You Want in Your Landscape  MODE Landscape Design
  • Sam MartsArchitectural Influences on Design ChoicesSam Marts Architects & Planners
  • Shawn Weidner, ASLA  - Hardscape Options, Roof Top Designs, Small Space Gardens Project Manager - Hoerr Schaudt Landscape Architects
  • Julie SiegelUsing Four Season Interest to Guide Composition and Design - J. Siegel Designs, Inc
  • Gary Lehman, RLA, ASLA Designing Urban & Green LandscapesGStudio
  • Doug Wood – Series Coordinator, Drawing a Site Plan, Plant Palettes, Key Historic Figures and Their Design Principles, Soil, Pruning and other Maintenance TechniquesWicker Park Garden Club
  • Bill MorrisettObtaining Vacant Lots for Community Gardens -  Design, Funding, Volunteers
  • And  15 Experienced Gardeners and Designers– Assist Students Weekly – Jim Angrabright, Denise Browning, Paula Collins, Diane Mason, Sara Dudnik, Susan Fontana, Donna Forsberg, Natalie Konieczko, Linnea Levy, Mary Tamminga, Richard Tilley, Betsy Tandy, Peggy Thoma, Kelly Wisdom and Leslie Zimmerman (alphabetically)

Doug Wood


Betsy Tandy

In the seven week class, students can learn to design a sustainable landscape that fits their interest and then go home with a designed plan, time table (one to five years) for completion and an estimated affordable budget required to complete their designs.

Students are taught by professional designers and fifteen experienced gardeners. The series includes the study of the elements of design that addresses the architecture of the home, hardscape options that work with their architecture, sustainable practices (creating great soil, healthy plant culture, and water conservation) and the result of studying numerous plant palettes for all light and soil conditions. 


Design drawings in various techniques

Students are asked to define what they’d like to see in their landscape and work each week to gain the knowledge to realize their goals using sound design and sustainable principles. Most importantly, they are asked to approach the designs systematically, objectively and create many options that "could" work. 


Jim Angrabright's bamboo fence


Susan Hill's Garden--former student

The in-class exercises tend to free the student from trying to make the perfect design the first time. They learn that the process is not short and that there is not just one option that could work.


Richard Tilley's entertainment area


Linnea Levy uses large roses for historic home landscape

Each week the class includes one or two lectures about various design principles: the topics are listed below. Following the lectures, class members, teaching assistants and the instructors "play" with the principles presented that day. All members of the class discuss photos of chosen designs and analyze the elements of each design, based on the topic of the day. 


Designed and created by Susan Fontana for a client

Students give their opinions on how and why the designs are successful based on these criteria. They then are asked to draw in-class designs, based on the principles focused on that day and to include various criteria given to them.

Students are then asked to address their home projects using the same principles and come back the next week with their results to show to the instructors and other students at the beginning of the class for critique.


Denise Browning's Rose Culture

The Class is designed and funded by Wicker Park Garden Club and registration fees, with partial financial support from Chicago Park District Community Gardens in the Parks and in collaboration with the Chicago Park District, Wicker Park Advisory Council, MODE Landscape Design, Sam Marts Architects & Planners, Sean Weidner, ASLA, J. Siegel Designs, Inc, GStudio and the 15 Teaching Assistants listed above.



A place well chosen.

The garden looks amazing, like a perfect place for some landscape designers to share and show some of their experience. I can't imagine a better spot for this type of initiative. Well done, I approve. Regards from a professional at http://www.gardenersserviceslondon.co.uk/

Wicker Park Garden Club members teach and inspire for next

Having read this I thought it was extremely informative. I appreciate you finding the time and effort to put this informative article together. I once again find myself spending a lot of time both reading and commenting. But so what, it was still worthwhile!

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