Urban Chicago

dfourer(z5 Chicago)December 5, 2004

Last year someone asked for neighbors in Chicago and quickly got 100 replies. So I'm repeating it. I'm in Rogers Park, which is the north lakeshore area of Chicago. I'd be happy to show my garden to a visitor--though it's winter now. Even better I'd like to see yours. I have a new terrarium with lights this winter and I'm loving it.

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I'm probably pretty close to you, though a few blocks north of the Chicago border. Do you garden in the same sandy stuff that I do?

    Bookmark   December 9, 2004 at 9:32AM
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Kerstin_Linnea(Z5, chicago)

I am on the northwest side, between albany park and jeff park.
I have a pitiful site but my plants to well anyways somehow..
Anybody know any coming plantswaps?

    Bookmark   December 12, 2004 at 8:30PM
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dfourer(z5 Chicago)

Pardon my ignorance, where is Albany park and jeff park? I tried to look them up on mapquest and got nothing. What's a street intersection?

There is a good plant swap here in June. (Near Clark and Devon streets)

All the plant "societies" are in the suburbs from what I can tell.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   December 13, 2004 at 12:27PM
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I'm in Rogers Park too! No plant societies but we do have a Garden Walk each year, flakey as it is. My garden was on the walk one year and I was disappointed in the feedback from the mostly non-gardening visitors (apartment dwellers, I guess). Although my garden was awash in roses and seven foot tall delphiniums, a forest of blue, many visitors told me I just had to go look at a certain condo driveway to see how it's done. The condo driveway turned out to be gas station landscaping---one long straight row of yellow marigolds behind one long straight row of red salvias. My last garden walk. Hey, we do have great soil here! Our yard is a small part of what was a celery farm in the early 1800s before R.P. was incorporated into Chicago. Thanks for mentioning the Clark and Devon plantswap. I'm glad to hear of it. Can't believe it's been happening right under my nose. How do I get more info?

    Bookmark   December 19, 2004 at 12:51PM
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dfourer(z5 Chicago)


I'll try to get some info on the Rogers Park plant swap. There must be an e-mail list--I'm not on it but I should be.

I went on the garden walk two years ago and enjoyed it very much. Soon my garden may be ready to join. One problem is that I live in a house with several friends, and one who happens to own the house painted the outside with lepard spots. My belief is that this was at least partially intended as an affront to some neighbors, maybe unconciously, maybe deliberately. So I continue with the gardening and thoroughly enjoy it but feel a little sheepish about inviting the whole town over. Of course in the back yard you don't see the paint job.

When we moved in, the yard was barren. Now there is a shady "woodland garden" taking shape in the far back, sunny perrenials in beds all around, vegetable garden, and a large lawn.

My interests are not with any particular plant, but old-fashioned flowers, wildflowers, robust perrenials that give the impression of an energetic, natural scene. The yard badly needed shrubs and ornamental trees, and I've gotten a few. In some places compromises from having several roommates led to confusion or just not planting anything. We are a house five gay men living together.

I landscaped a house for my friends / neighbors down the street. I'd like to do more of that in the spring. They had a barren yard too. I planted a variety of shrubs, easy things to maintain. I had fun and they love it.

-----David Fourer

    Bookmark   December 19, 2004 at 8:24PM
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pitimpinai(z6 Chicago)

Albany Park is just south west of Rogers Park, around Lawrence/Kedzie/Foster. Jefferson Park is around the Kennedy and Cicero/Milwaukee/Foster/Austin/Central.

I am in Jefferson Park and love to walk around in the garden talking to my plants and worms and birds, especially robins & cardinals. I have a tiny garden, but a church turned temple let me loose in its garden so now I have a second garden that is about 2/3 city block plus another garden behind the house that also belongs to the temple.

Come by sometime. I also like to share my plants. I gave away several carloads of perennials this year. I still have a lot of perennials to divide next spring.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2004 at 8:24PM
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Apparently I'm taking the wrong shortcuts when I'm driving through Rogers Park (avoiding the horrors of Clark Street traffic). I would have noticed (and sort of appreciated) a leopard-print house!

    Bookmark   December 27, 2004 at 9:38AM
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pitimpinai(z6 Chicago)

I would love to see a leopard-print house too..LOL

I still have several perennials to divide/remove in April/May. Please come by. I will give you those plants. I hate to throw them out.

I planted too many white flowers. They don't stand out in arrangements, because the inside of the temple/church is white, so I am replacing those with bright colored flowers.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2004 at 12:24PM
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dfourer(z5 Chicago)

Pitimpinai and Stinky Pink,

Thank you for the offer of plants. I will give you some things in return. Can you use purple iris--Bearded and Siberian iris? One of my favorites flowers is Bleeding Heart and I might have enough to give away those too.

The leopard house is at 1623 W. Estes, if you want to see it. I'm home a lot so you can ring the bell if you like and ask for David. As I said before, I will make contact in early spring. Happy new year.

See link below for my winter garden. I've added more plants since I took the photo.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   December 27, 2004 at 1:04PM
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pitimpinai(z6 Chicago)


Pretty terrarium. Is it totally shut off and self-contained?

OR do you have a frogm in there?

(I always dream of a frog.....)

If it will make you feel better, we can work something out about plant swapping. Remember to contact me around April.

I might drive by your place and check it out....LOL.

Thanks for the invitation.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2004 at 4:21PM
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Kerstin_Linnea(Z5, chicago)

-somehow my computer failed to notify me on the postings here!..
I am glad I went back (to post another q..)

-pitimanii describes it pretty much exactly, I am fairly new to chicago and although I have the general concept , I still struggle with the numbers of things.
My description would be west on foster towards I-90, turn at gompers park. that's right , look for gompers park and the forestpreserves...
I am familliar with the leopard lurking..
somewhere in anderssonville? no? I spend a lot of time overthere and
I would love to stop by for a gardenvisit
-I have a sneaky feeling that a lot of people have spotted me hanging over their fences and talking to my self.. hahaha! *embarassed*
My apologies everybody! This is what happens..

I have to say I am super jeaolus of your borrowed church lot
How lucky you are ! (I think its real cool to be the flower "deliverer" to the church.)
Do you ever need any help?
I am farmraised (:-) and many times resent the concrete around me, I take any excuse to be outside and gardening is one of the few outlets I have), we are currently searching for a house in this area and this would be a great way for me to get a insider's feel to it.

I wonder what it entails to organize a plantswap? I guess it is a rather large affair?
permits for the park? hmm, any ideas anyone ?

-Sum sumarum: I have had a couple of rough moments of language related misunderstandings, I would want to keep everything on plainest level possible. -not trying to insult anyone,
My 'jealousy' is nothing but well intended and simply a way of expressing congratulary excitement. -..It is awesome..
Gulp, I am getting entangled here..

"jealous" is many times good in swedish, and I , many times, find myself speaking swedish to you all, but in english....
Certain things just don't translate well and I am still learning- the hard way.

- fniss, I am soo sorry,Do I make any sense at all to you guys?.
I must be giddy with the energy of 2005 already.
I am supposed to have a very powerful year ahead of me , hubby too.
well, I am ready..
Happy new year to all,

    Bookmark   January 1, 2005 at 12:21PM
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3 days before Christmas, we moved from the Twin Cities back to Chicago. Due to it being this time of year, I couldn't bring my gardens with me (as I did on our prior move which happened in spring). We're still searching for a house, but I think I might be starting from scratch with gardens this year. I'm glad to read about the Clark/Devon plant swap. Although I have nothing to swap, I'd love to know if other readers know of other swaps and if so, could you post the info. Could you let me know if the Chicagoland Gardening magazine is worth a subscription? I've developed some favorite perennial nurseries in MN and, if needed, I can always order from them, but I will be trying to use local nurseries first. I hated saying goodbye to my MN gardens, but it's kind of fun to be starting with a blank slate. I'll take any other new to Chicago gardening suggestions people have to offer. Thanks, Kitty

    Bookmark   January 5, 2005 at 2:23PM
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dfourer(z5 Chicago)

Kitty and others,

My friend who knows about the plant swap will be back in town soon and I'll post the information as soon as I get it. It's not till May anyway.

When you get a house, I'd be happy to help out with plants and offer my two cents worth of ideas. It's very exciting to get a new yard. Us locals can surely offer some ideas about the climate, soil, and things.

When I move here there were hastas by the hundred and nothing else. I pulled out and gave away a lot of hastas!

    Bookmark   January 5, 2005 at 5:33PM
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Kitty et al--I think Chicagoland Gardening is a fine magazine--I enjoyed it for the year I subscribed then let it lapse. I still pick it up now and then. Not always real thick, but some good articles nonetheless. If you said what part of Chicago/Chicago area you're looking to settle in, I missed it, but you should find some good nurseries within easy driving distance pretty much wherever you end up. And maybe Minnesota is the same way, but you can end up with highly variable soil conditions depending on where you choose to live. Most of the away-from-the-lake suburbs seem to be mostly clay, along the lake (and ancient beach ridges) it's sandy, and there are some folks even in the center of the city who claim to live on good, black agriculture-friendly soil. Not that you're going to choose your new home according to soil conditions, I suppose. On the plus side, maybe you'll be able to grow a few things that you couldn't in Minnesota. Some areas in and around Chicago can get you into a few zone 6 plants. Happy house-hunting!

    Bookmark   January 6, 2005 at 4:51PM
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Although I live in Lombard now, I used to live on Estes (1348 1/2 if I remember correctly), sorry I missed such a colorful house!

I lived in Lincoln Square (Western/Lawrence/Lincoln) in a rented house for 10 years before moving here 7/2003. I brought as many of my plants as I could but had to leave many behind, including some HUGE Baby Blanket roses that I still want to kidnap one of these days (hey, they're MINE, lol).

I know we have a BIG plant swap here in DuPage Co. this spring, the one last year was awesome with a very large turnout of people from all over the Chicagoland area. Personally I think it would be worth the drive and to anyone interested, I know the gal who organizes it if you would like some info on it.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2005 at 11:39AM
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We're looking in Oak Park/Forest Park Riverside and I am struggling psychologically with having had to give up a 50x150 ft lot, let alone all the plants. Thanks for the comment, stinkypink, about Chicagoland Gardening magazine. I'd love to know about DuPage and any other plant swaps, too. Although MN was colder than cold (like it is now), there is a huge network of garden clubs, charity plant sales, swaps. If that exists in Chicago, I haven't found it yet. The good thing, though, with living in a more established city, with smaller lots, is that my husband isn't going to have as much grass to cut! I've warned him that I'll be removing some of it, regardless of what house we find! Thanks everyone.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2005 at 5:29PM
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I don't know if you've actually started looking, but if you're looking at one of the suburbs you listed, you may be able to get a lot at least as big as your old place, especially if you decide it's a high priority. Fifty feet is not an unusual lot width for an inner ring suburb--it's about what I've got. I've seen more of Riverside than I have of Forest Park, and Oak Park is a lot like where I live--a real mix of housing styles and lot sizes. Good luck!

    Bookmark   January 20, 2005 at 10:34PM
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ahughes798(z5 IL)

I lived in Chicago up until 2 years ago, Division and Ashland. I rented a garden plot every year at Division and Wood. The Frankie Machine Garden...one block south of Division on Wood. I will have to check out the leopard print house....I'd love to do something like that out here. I miss a lot of things about living in the city...ethnic food being one of them.

I moved to Wauconda. Lots of nature, still semi-rural, lots of State Parks and Forest Preserves. I went to the dupage county swap last year out at Blackwell..it was awesome, and I got and brought some good stuff.

When I moved, one of the first things I did was start digging up the front lawn and putting in gardens. Lo and behold, my neighbors liked it! I give them seeds and plants alot. Surprising since I use mostly native plants and lots of people think of them as weeds. I do plant a row or two of marigolds because DH likes them. My back yard is all native plants. I have some gooseneck loostrife to get rid of, because it's not native. Also some baby cardinal flowers, and various other natives.

Let me know about the Devon plant swap, too. I still consider myself a Chicagoan. And I'd be happy to unburden myself of some gardening choices that don't fit my plan. April

    Bookmark   January 22, 2005 at 5:36PM
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How does one find out about the DuPage plant swap that you mentioned, ahughes798?

    Bookmark   January 27, 2005 at 8:37AM
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veronicastrum(z5 IL)


I put a link to Jeanne's home page below. She organized the fall swap and is tetatively planning one for May 21st. Send her an email and you'll get more details. I couldn't make the fall one but it sounded like fun. Also, check out the Oak Park conservatory when you get there. It sounds like they have a very involved grup of gardeners. Sometimes you just have to turn up the right pots to find out where we are hiding!


Here is a link that might be useful: Her home page

    Bookmark   January 28, 2005 at 2:45PM
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dfourer(z5 Chicago)

Rogers Park Spring Plant Swap !!!

I finally got the information.

It's informally held every year on the first Saturday in June,
At Sullivan High School Parking lot,
6631 N Bosworth Ave, Chicago, IL (not affiliated with the school)
Starting about 9:00 a.m.
You don't want to be late, because the plants get swapped amazingly fast, and then there is nothing left.

You can contact my friend Karl and tell him you expect to go. He may be able to update us by e-mail when it gets close. In accordance with GardenWeb instructions, I'm going to forward your e-mails to Karl to prevent him from getting spam.
You can also contact me a few weeks in advance and I will verify the time and date. My e-mail I'm willing to post: dfourer**A:T**comcast.net

Here's how it works: save some cheep nursery pots or boxes or whatever, dig up your over-crowded or unwanted plants the night before and load in the car, drive to the school parking lot Saturday morning (on time).

Hope to see some of you there,
David Fourer

    Bookmark   January 30, 2005 at 9:20PM
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motria(z6 Chicago)

Hi everyone. I'm up in Jefferson Park, too. No sand here.. just a ton of clay!

pitimpinai - where is this church/temple of yours located? Sounds interesting. I'm lucky to have a relative's yard for my over-flow. He doesn't care what it looks like, so I give him whatever I've decided I don't like anymore. :-)

    Bookmark   January 31, 2005 at 12:19AM
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Hi David,
What are the mechanics of the swap? Is it a free-for-all, where people just come and swoop up plants by the armload? Is there some sort of parity system, i.e. vouchers? Or do people just sort of individually sidle up to each other and say things like, "I'll trade you my 'Chocolate Ruffles' heuchera for your 'Maraschino' hosta"?

    Bookmark   January 31, 2005 at 11:45AM
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lilaclily - please post info on the dupage swap when you can get it. I am sure that all would be interested. I know I would like to get rid of some stuff. I am in fox valley area.
Is it at Blackwell forest preserve in Wheaton? I know that one year there was one there.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2005 at 1:20PM
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dfourer(z5 Chicago)

re: Rogers Park Plant Swap (see post above)

The method is, as you said, "people just sort of individually sidle up to each other and say things like, 'I'll trade you my 'Chocolate Ruffles' heuchera for your 'Maraschino' hosta'?"

    Bookmark   January 31, 2005 at 7:34PM
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pitimpinai(z6 Chicago)


The temple is on Gunnison & Merrimec. Can't miss it.

It was a church before a Buddhist group bought it. I have been gardening there for two years now....trying to expand the flower beds a foot at a time under their nose....LOL. Right now it is covered with snow. Come by any time, maybe in spring. I am planning to replace whatever we didn't get to use with something else. Just ordered 150 lilies & 23 Dahlias. Some of the existing perennials have to go to make room for them....and some other stuffs that caught my fancy :-)


    Bookmark   January 31, 2005 at 9:51PM
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motria(z6 Chicago)

pitimpinai - thanks for the info. i'll be sure to check in with you in the spring.. i'd be glad to take some of those extra plants off your hands. ;-)

    Bookmark   February 7, 2005 at 12:06AM
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Wow, a plant swap and a whole bunch of gardeners right in my back yard. I would love to get some info on the swap, and would love to exchange garden visits with others nearby - I am in south Evanston just north of the border and have a small, but full garden of perennials needing division.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2005 at 7:54PM
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edibles(z5 Chicago, IL)

Hmmm.. I'm relatively new to gardening and to this forum but I am from Chicago too and I'd like to know more about local gardeners and events in chicago. My mom has always liked flowers but I'm looking into growing edible plants. My eyes hurt from staring at these forums too long today. Any advice on when/where I should start would be great. Is it too early to think about growing seeds for this spring? Does anyone know any good local stores?

    Bookmark   February 27, 2005 at 10:10PM
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Well, we moved in 10 days ago and I gave myself a challenge - get rid of the moving boxes and THEN you can start on the yard. Yesterday the shovel, HD bags and I went at it. There are more dandelions and creeping charlie in this yard than one could imagine! I started digging out weeds and grass for where 1 garden will reside - must finish that area today. We're getting a concrete patio broken up and taken away this week and that will be part of garden #2. This house came complete with a whopping 10 hostas - don't know the types yet, 5 tulips and 6 daffodils. I've got a long way to go! Fortunately, our realtor's neighbor started me out with some vintage lilies earlier this week. I've noted the details on the local plant swaps and will definitely be attending. We've also got to make a trip back to the Twin Cities the first weekend of May and there is a GREAT school plant sale up there that weekend, so I'll be shopping there, too. As much as I'm searching and asking around, it just doesn't seem that there are as many charity plant swaps/sales here in Chicago as there are in the Mpls/St. Paul area. When one is starting virtually from scratch and in an old house that needs some restoring, balancing the budget is a huge consideration. But, back to digging weeds I go! At least i'm outdoors!!!

    Bookmark   April 10, 2005 at 9:32AM
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TCG0626(z5 IL)

Good Morning,

Yet another Rogers Parker checking in. Moved here in July 2004 and so this spring spending time getting lawn and garden in shape. Certainly interested in plant swaps and seeing what others in the neighborhood have done. Big project now is to scape the front...there's nothing there. Soil sure is 'sandy' up here!


    Bookmark   April 10, 2005 at 9:41AM
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As I read about TCG's sand, I was thinking about the clay pit I discovered today. Any suggestions for disposing of clay in these parts?

    Bookmark   April 10, 2005 at 8:43PM
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kenpaul(z5 IL)

i would rather have the sandy soil that they have along the lake.

i do not like this soil in Niles. too much clay. when it's wet, it's slimy and when it's dry, it's hard as a rock.

give me sandy soil.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2005 at 11:59AM
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I like having the sandy lakefront soil too, but I think a little clay would make my tomatoes taste better.

Is the Rogers Park still on? For those of you on the far north, Evanston is having its garden club plant sale May 21 & 22 on Central just off of Greenbay Road. There can be a real mix of stuff in any given year--people's divisions, school revenue-raiser tomatoes, commercially grown annuals etc., with prices similarly varied. I've gotten some nice stuff and also rue-the-day spreaders (anyone want a six-foot-tall running rudbeckia??)

    Bookmark   April 18, 2005 at 1:31PM
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Hi All,

We are planning a spring swap in DuPage County on May 21 at Blackwell Forest Preserve. It was a lot of fun last year. We had approximately 60 swappers.

Please email me if you are interested.


    Bookmark   April 18, 2005 at 1:36PM
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dfourer(z5 Chicago)

The plant swap is Saturday, April 30th this year. Thats this Saturday.
At Sullivan High School Parking lot,
6631 N Bosworth Ave, Chicago, IL (not affiliated with the school)
Starting 10:00 a.m. I'm told.
You don't want to be late, because the plants get swapped amazingly fast, and then there is nothing left.

My phone is 773-465-9329

    Bookmark   April 28, 2005 at 8:03PM
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