Beautifying & Sustaining West Chicago
A great source of vitality and garden wisdom for the community comes from the West Chicago Garden Club, whose purpose is to increase interest in gardening through sharing ideas and knowledge, promoting and participating in community beautification and protecting and promoting a clean environment in which to live. For a minimal fee of $15 annually, which goes back into programming, this active Club provides monthly presentations by garden experts, workshops, and field trips.
Each year, the West Chicago Garden Club holds a sale of plants from member gardens. The sale itself has grown in popularity over the last 18 years with avid gardeners throughout the Chicagoland area for good reason. The wide selection of perennials offered for sale, most being dug from member gardens, are well acclimated to the growing conditions found in the Western Suburbs and are vigorous additions to existing gardens.
Also for sale are a variety of annuals, including flowers and vegetables, mostly grown from seed lovingly nurtured by Club members. These have been prepared early in the year, with seeds planted 8 to 10 weeks prior to the sale.
But the hard labor begins in early spring when perennials in member gardens begin erupting from their winter sleep. That is when the “digging squad” goes into action, removing/thinning plants from their gardens and those of members who can’t dig themselves. This process of thinning actually helps the remaining plants, preventing overcrowding and depletion of needed nutrients and water, as well as increasing air circulation between plants.
Once the plants are dug, the potting begins. Typically, about 15 members work in assembly-line fashion at scheduled “potting” parties, and the newly potted plants are kept in three locations where they are watered and nurtured by members. About a week prior to the sale, all the plants are labeled and priced.
Members place yard signs in strategic locations around town to promote the event the week before the sale, and the Friday before the sale, they arrive on Galena Street to supervise the mega-tent that is professionally erected for the sale. In-tent signage is mounted and several hours are then spent transporting all the plants to the tent that evening.
The day of event requires staffing by volunteer Club members who answer questions of the large crowds who flock to the tent, offer garden-related advice, serve as cashiers and monitor the holding area. After a long day of sales, which typically results in a sell-out of all plant material prior to Blooming Fest’s 3:00 p.m. closing, Club members clean up and go home.
While the anatomy of its plant sale involves a long and arduous process, WCGC members approach it with passion and zest as they realize their Club’s guiding principle of “growing gardeners”. The Club welcomes all levels of gardeners, from absolute beginners to Master Gardeners, and the plant sale allows it to keep the dues low so that everyone in the community, as well as in surrounding towns, interested in gardening can join.
For more information about the West Chicago Garden Club, visit its website at www.westchicagogardenclub.org.