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Gardening is about enjoying the smell of things growing in the soil, getting dirty without feeling guilty, and generally taking the time to soak up a little peace and serenity. ~ Lindley Karstens,

Bee Balm

About the Northtown Garden Society (NGS)

The Northtown Garden Society, established in 1982, provides gardening education and community service to the West Rogers Park (West Ridge) area on the far north side of Chicago. Meetings are held monthly, usually on the first Thursday of the month at the Warren Park Field House, 6601 N. Western Avenue. Refer to the Calendar for more information about meetings and other activities.

Coming Attractions Daffodil

Thursday, July 21, 2016, 6:30 PM, Warren Park Field House grounds

Mad Hatter Garden Tea Party

Join us for a picnic to celebrate summer. And, show off your creativity by wearing a hat of your design. Dinner provided by NGS. Members are asked to bring a dessert, fruit salad or a vase of flowers for table decor. Open to NGS members and spouses/partners only. RSVP via Contact NGS on left.

Saturday, August 6, 2016, 11:30 AM

Tour of Back of the Yards Studio/Gardens of Artist Ronald Kulla

Don't miss this unique opportunity to visit an Urban Oasis and to enjoy a delicious lunch prepared by this master gardener. You may want to visit the Farmers Market across the street before lunch. We will meet at Roland's place for lunch at 11:30am. 4522 S McDowell, Chicago 60609 (45th and Ashland). Open to members and guests only.

The cost is $15.00 per person. RSVP (via Contact NGS on left) is required.

NGS News 2016

Waters gardenCommunity Outreach

by Eva Mannaberg

Photo: Waters School Garden by N. Wieting

Our Community Outreach Program for 2016 has granted scholarships to 4 children to attend Warren Park Day camp. In 2015, 2 children received the scholarship and in 2014, one child was granted the scholarship.
Three local schools, Armstrong, Boone and Waters, have received $300.00 each in order to further their school gardening projects. Armstrong will build a conifer garden, Boone will grow vegetables in raised beds and Waters will use the grant to continue its Sustainable Garden Project.

Waters SchoolBoone School

Armstrong SchoolPictured above left: Waters School - Principal Titia Crespo and Pete Leki

Above right: Boone School - (L to R) Jean Francione, Principal Jacklyn Delaney, Eva Mannaberg (NGS) and Jami Mandolini

Left: Armstrong School - (L to R) Theresa Isaacson, Eva Mannaberg (NGS) and Principal Otis Dunson

Photos by Natalie Peterson

NGS Volunteers Honored

The NGS members who gave of their time in 2015 were honored at a dinner in January. Without their help, we would not be able to care for our gardens in the parks, offer educational programs or host fund-raisers. Their work is greatly appreciated.

News for Master Gardeners

The Chicago Botanic Garden recognizes NGS as a community garden organization. Our gardens in Indian Boundary and Warren Parks have been added to a list of approved sites for master gardeners to work towards their required volunteer time.

Educational programs sponsored by NGS also qualify for required Master Gardener education hours.

Garden Clubs of Illinois Membership

Northtown Garden Society is a member of the Garden Clubs of Illinois. Membership in this organization provides service and education opportunities and a reduced rate for liability insurance as well as a reduction in the membership fee for the Chicago Botanic Garden. NGS members who are interested in joining GCI should contact any NGS board member.

2016 Programs and Community Service Activities

Sunday, July 10, 1:00 PM to 6:00 PM

West Ridge Garden Walk

Stay tuned for photos of this wonderful walk of 28 gardens and the post-walk party.

Wednesday, June 22, 5:30 PM

A visit to Waters School to see the gardens with Pete Leki.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

From Pen to Print: Local Gardens in the News

Once again, our very knowledgeable guest speaker, Nina Koziol, delighted us by taking us on a photograhic tour of beautiful and sometimes quirky Chicago-area gardens featured in the Chicago Tribune and Chicagoland Gardening.

To learn more about Ms. Koziol and view photos of her gardens, visit her web site, www.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Spring Plant and Garden Decor Sale

We held a very successful Plant and Garden Decor sale to raise funds for our Community Service programs which include 3 scholarships for Warren Park summer day camp and donations to 3 area school (Boone, Armstrong and Waters) gardening programs.

We wish to thank Eva Mannaberg for organizing the event and all of the volunteers who helped with the sale.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Cooking with Herbs

Alice Revelski, a garden club member, gave a demonstration on using Spring culinary herbs from her garden. She made fennel soup and passed a variety of herbs around to smell and taste.

Pete LekiThursday, April 7, 2016

A Sustainable Schoolyard in Chicago

Pete Leki, award-winning environmental activist, gardener and Ecology Programs Coordinator at Waters Elementary School spoke about the process of converting an asphalt parking lot/play area to native plant and community gardens. To see a video of Mr. Leki discussing his work at Waters School, click here.

Photo of Mr. Leki by N. Wieting

Thursday, March 10, 2016

The Art of Bonsai

Chris Baker, curator of bonsai at the Chicago Botanic Garden where he maintains approximately 175 bonsai trees, spoke about creating the various styles of bonsai and maintaining your creations.

Mr. Baker has been studying and working on bonsai for more than 13 years. He spent six months in 2012 studying bonsai with third-generation bonsai master Tohru Suzuki at the Daijuen Nursery in Okazaki, Japan. He was an intern and volunteer at the United States National Arboretum's National Bonsai and Penjing Museum in Washington, D.C. He has been the curator of Bonsai at the Chicago Botanic Garden since 2012.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Garden Travelogue

To remind us of gardening weather, we traveled to warmer, sunnier times through photographs of the Anderson Japanese Gardens in Rockford Illinois, the Garfield Park Conservatory, and Roland Kulla's Urban Farm presented by Felicia Kaplan.

Farther afield, we photo-toured the John Denver Sanctuary in Aspen, CO, the Dumbarton Oaks Gardens in Washington, DC and the Biltmore Estate Gardens in Asheville, NC. presented by Ginny Davis.

2015 Programs and Community Service Activities

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Annual Holiday Party

A favorite event for NGS members and their spouses was, once again, a roaring success. Thanks to Eva Mannaberg and her committee for putting on another fun evening.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

The History of Botanical Illustrations, the Scientist as an Artistic Observer.

Our guest speaker, Kimberly Pancoast, is a Botanical Illustrator from Lill Street studios. After reviewing the evolution of botanical illustration over the centuries, Ms.Pancoast discussed her work in incorporating live botanic materials into her art work and her studies of using controlled light and humidity and their impact on plant health.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

This month we featured a Plant and Plant-Related White Elephant Exchange.
NGS members brought books, garden furniture, unused tools and other garden objects as well as plants, seeds, and house plants to exchange.

A Question and Answer Time followed the exchange providing an opportunity to share our knowledge and experience.

Davidson 2015Thursday, September 3, 2015

Chicago Area Insects and Your Garden

Lloyd Davidson, Ph.D., professor and photographer from Northwestern University, delighted us with his presentation of landscape photographs in a variety of venues, as well as his insect and other invertebrate photos.

Dr. Davidson has an M.A. in paleontology and a PhD in cell biology and travels extensively with his wife around the world. They focus on wilderness areas and the plants and animals that reside within.

Dr. Davidson's photographs are shown in this report and can be viewed at Bugguide (under Lloyd Davidson) and LloydsWorld.SmugMug (look in the Ryerson set).

Davidson Davidson

Saturday, August 22, 2015Kulla Gardens

A Visit to the Kulla Gardens

On occasion, urban landscape artist, Roland Kulla, opens his gardens and prepares potluck meals for guests.

Taking advantage of this opportunity, a group of NGS members visited his gardens and enjoyed a fine meal. Here is what Mr. Kulla has to say about his gardens:

I've got three city lots of garden, about a quarter acre. There are different "rooms". There's a perennial garden, a small prairie installation with native grasses and forbs, an herb garden, a veggie "cloister" surrounded by trellised wine grapes, some larger farm beds, and a small orchard. With all the rain, things are rather lush.

Kulla GardenKulla Garden

Kulla Gardens

Picnic 2015Thursday, August 6, 2015

NGS Picnic at Warren Park

The good cooks of NGS provided salads and desserts for a catered picnic held on the lawn of the Warren Park Field House. In addition to social time, Eva Mannaberg planned a game with prizes which was enjoyed by all.

Picnic 2015 Picnic 2015

Picnic 2015 Picnic 2015

Picnic 2015

Friday, July 17, 2015Lurie garden 2015

Tour of Lurie Gardens, Millenium Park, Chicago

On a very hot day, a group of intrepid NGS members and guests enjoyed a tour of the Lurie Gardens learning about its contruction and native plant design. It is hard to believe that this is a rooftop garden. It is a true Chicago treasure.

Lurie Garden Lurie garden

Lurie GardenLurie Garden

TG CrewFriday, July 3, 2015

Triangle Garden Cleanup

Pictured left to right: Holly Gallegos, Ginny Davis and Natalie Peterson

With all of the rain in June, the weeds enjoyed a major comeback in the Triangle Garden at Indian Boundary Park so 3 NGS members, Ginny Davis, Holly Gallegos and Natalie Peterson, devoted a few hours to pulling weeds and pruning. The garden is looking quite lush and attracts many compliments from neighbors out for a stroll in the park. We would like to thank the 3 people mentioned above plus Marilyn Shipley for volunteering to water the garden throughout the summer.

TG 2015 TG 2015

Garden PartyThursday, June 25, 2015

Midsummer Garden Party

Once again. Lee Holohan opened her charming garden to all of us for a party. Everyone brought an appetizer or dessert and drinks and we all enjoyed catching up with each other's news.


Garden party Garden Party

Garden Party


TG 2015Friday, May 8, 2015 and Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Triangle Garden Cleanup and Sign Installation

NGS volunteers, Ginny Davis, Natalie Peterson and Holly Gallegos, weeded and pruned the Triangle Garden at Indian Boundary Park making it look quite spiffy.

TG SignA few days later, Judy Ishii and CPD employees installed a concrete mosaic sign created by Ginny Davis in the garden to give it a proper sign.


Nina KoziolThursday May 7, 2015

Cottage Garden Designs for the Midwest

Pictured left: Nina Koziol and Ginny Davis

Speaker, Nina Koziol, enthralled all of us with her photos and ideas for creating a cottage garden in the Chicago area. Her presentation incorporated photos and seedpacket illustrations from cottage gardens in the Victorian era into photos from cottage gardens as they exist today. We learned that the plantings and designs have not really changed that much over the years.

Ms. Koziol emphasized that cottage garden design incorporates annuals into perennial and natural plantings to provide color and interest throughout the summer. It's also OK to plant a few vegetables with your flowers.

To learn more about Ms. Koziol and view photos of her gardens, visit her web site, www.

CF ViewCF View

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Nature and Garden-themed Arts and Crafts Fair and Plant Sale Fundraiser.

Our first Arts and Crafts Fair/Plant Sale fundraiser was an overwhelming success by all measures. We had 46 artisans participating who were quite complimentary in the organization and execution of the event. Most of the artisans indicated that the quality of the work for sale was quite professional and that they would like to be invited back if we hold another fair.

CF RafflePlant sale 2015

In addition to the fair, we held a successful plant sale and raffle of artisan-participant donated items.

The money raised by this event will help pay for 2 children to attend the Warren Park Summer Day camp and pay for pizza for the Children's Day Care "Prom". Other areas of expenditures to support our community gardening and educational programs are being explored.

There are so many people to thank for the success of this event so here goes:

The Organizing Committee comprised of Eva Mannaberg, who was in charge of the plant sale, Shelly Greenberg, who was in charge of the raffle, and Judy Ishii, Lee Holohan and Ginny Davis who were in charge of Arts and Crafts Fair.

Our NGS volunteers who donated their time on Friday or Saturday: Dalia Benz, Dorothy Bird, Michael Burns, Alice Dunlap-Kraft, Chris Harvey, Audrey Hurwitz, Felicia Kaplan, Ellen Lebedz, Walter Mannaberg, Sheila Mayol, Mary Oellrich, Natalie Peterson, Lucy Radycki, Bob Radycki, Pat Schoepfel, Nancy Seyfried, Marilyn Shipley, Marge Trahan, and Ivah Urbanski.

Our NGS members who donated items for raffle or equipment: Frank Glapa, Linda Winke, and Julie Rand.

All of the NGS members who distributed postcards, flyers or e-mail messages to advertise the event.

We are quite thankful to the Chicago Park District and, especially, the Warren Park manager, Dianalynn Schilz, and her staff for all of their help in planning and room setup.

PS VolunteersCF Organizers

Above left: Marge Trahan, Eva Mannaberg, Michael Burns

Above right: Ginny Davis, Judy Ishii, Lee Holohan

CF RaffleCF Volunteers

Above left: Shelly Greenberg and raffle draw volunteer

Above right: Natalie Peterson, Marilyn Shipley, and Sheila Mayol

Thursday, April 2, 2015Rosehill Nature center

Rosehill Nature Center Update

Speaker: Tim Czarnecki, 40th Ward Chief of Staff

by Ginny Morin

Photo copied from Alderman O'Conner's web site.

In April, Tim Czarnecki, Alderman Patrick O'Connor's 40th Ward chief of staff addressed members of the NGS to provide an update about the new West Ridge Nature Preserve project at Western and Peterson on the Park District land bought from the Rosehill Cemetery. He said that the pond in the 20.5 acre park was dredged to make a better habitat for the fish the pond will be stocked with. Board walks and crushed gravel pathways are being constructed and hundreds of invasive trees and shrubs have been removed. Much of the landscaping was well underway with plantings to begin in May.
Czarnecki said concrete footings to support the boardwalk around parts of the pond have been poured and a crushed-gravel path will be installed to weave through the park. The water tower, which feeds the cemetery's irrigation system, will receive a new coat of paint. The park's advisory council has plans to eventually install a "nature play lot" for children where they can learn about the park's plants and wildlife, which includes deer, coyotes and birds.

A video on Alderman O'Connor's web site shows the park and the progress made so far. Thank you to Mr. Czarnecki for your informative progress report on the West Ridge Nature Preserve.

Monarch caterpillerMonarch Butterfly

Photos: left, Monarch Caterpiller; right, Monarch Butterfly. Photo credit: Ginny Davis

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Siting for Rain Gardens-Attracting Butterflies

Speaker: Julia Bunn, landscape designer from the Spirited Gardener, Inc.

by Ginny Morin

In March, the NGS listened to a lively presentation by Julia Bunn, a landscape designer with the Spirited Gardener, Inc. She gave a slide presentation which showed her designs of private gardens for residences, condominium association properties. She focused on rain gardens and discussed visually pleasing methods of changing wet and muddy areas into well designed areas by draining water into places where you want it. The results were spectacular. She also discussed plants that attract butterflies and harmonious growing methods using herbs, vegetables, native plants, perennials, shrubs and trees.
Thank you, Julia, for the informative and fascinating presentation.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Travelogue to Gardens in Spain and Ireland

Thank you to Lucy and Bob Radycki who shared photos from a recent trip to Spain and to Alice Dunlap-Kraft who shared photos of her walking trip through Ireland.

Spain FiestaPatios Spain

Pictured above; L - Fiesta time in Spain; R- Patio Walk in Cordoba

Pictured below: L - Delphinium at Castle Glenarm Garden in Northern Ireland; R - Common Spotted Orchid in Northern Ireland meadow


Updated 7/13/16 GD