Annual Evanston Garden Fair continues to grow

Pearl Wu

Gardening along the North Shore is like a trip to Las Vegas.

“It’s a gamble to garden a plant that hasn’t faced a Chicago winter,” said Marjorie Mizes, a Wilmette resident who attended the 53rd Annual Evanston Garden Fair on Sunday.

Mizes, who describes herself as a “hardcore gardener,” said about half of her garden comes from plants she bought at previous fairs. This year, Mizes said she was especially excited about the native Evanston plants on sale.

“The native plants are established plants that have faced Chicago winters,” she said.

Bad weather isn’t just a concern for gardeners — it’s also one for garden fair organizers.

“Once we had to survive a tornado coming through the park,” said Mary Adelaide Hake of the Lincolnwood Garden Club. “All the tents stayed up, though.”

But visitors saw no signs of twisters while perusing perennials this Saturday and Sunday at Independence Park, which is located on Central Street and Stewart Avenue.

This year, six local garden clubs — the Four Seasons Garden Club, Green Gardeners, Highland Garden Club, Lincolnwood Garden Club, the Travelers Garden Club and the Evanston Environmental Association — contributed to the event. The clubs set up tents and sold club members’ homegrown plants, native Evanston plants, perennials and annuals.

The fair also featured Garden Critters & Sprinklers, a family owned business that sells metal homemade garden ornaments of salamanders, frogs and praying mantises. A pot- painters’ table entertained children as parents shopped.

Many filled car trunks and red Radio Flyer wagons with plants and flowers.

“We expect to sell all our plants,” said Lois Wall, a member of the Highland Garden Club since 1975.

The Travelers Garden Club also sold its signature sloppy joes. All proceeds from the fair’s sales go toward the beautification of Evanston.

Marcia Freeman, a Green Gardeners member, said the fair helps bring the city’s community together.

“It’s a part of Evanston,” Freeman said. “People walk their little red wagons over to get their plants.”

Freeman said she has watched the fair evolve and has contributed to the fair over the years.

“We’re just all glad to be here, to be part of it,” Freeman said. “We’re here because we want to be here.”

Alice Conner, a Travelers Garden Club member, attributes the fair’s continuity to the determination of the garden clubs to keep the fair going.

“Nothing stops us,” Conner said.