For you garden lovers like me, I’m betting that a gorgeous, exceptional new book on our favorite topic is cause for celebration! Just published, Gardens of the North Shore of Chicago, is a three year body of work by Ben Lenhardt Jr., Chairman Emeritus of the Garden Conservancy. It is this respected organization that is the recipient of all proceeds from the book’s sales.
Ben’s own garden (below), with its mixed terrace borders that give way to ravine and knot gardens in the background, well sets the scene for the quality and breadth of this first book on gardens of the North Shore area.
The inviting text is taken to another level when paired with the exquisite photographs of noted landscape photographer, Scott Shigley. You will be thrilled at the large images that let you take in the many glorious garden details, inspiring horticultural material and landscaping ideas.
Gardens of the North Shore of Chicago is a long overdue book, focusing on the garden mecca of Chicago’s North Shore (the eight contiguous suburbs–i.e. Lake Forest, Winnetka and Wilmette) that all share the Lake Michigan shoreline and the extra plus of close proximity to this mid west cosmopolitan city. Four Garden chapters…Classic, Contemporary, Country, and Naturalistic…cover the creativity and diversity of this part of our country.
While many gardens of the North Shore were created at the end of the nineteenth/early twentieth century, most in the book have been installed in just the last forty years. Fortuitously, some of the original estate houses have survived to provide a sense of place and context for the new designs.
Clinola is a worthy case in point where the owners concept of “doing right by the house and landscape,” prompted a restoration and refurbishment that followed the footprints of the original 1927 garden landscape by Ferruccio Vitale. To direct this exciting project, Charles Stick was selected for his landscape talents.
A new eighteenth-century style French manor house also draws inspiration from the past horticultural ethos of these original suburbs introduced to this area.
Their gardens, designed by Deborah Nevins, are unique in the focus on principles of universal accessibility; this priority was carried out with smooth, broad paths, no steps and numerous seating areas.
With both national and international designers at the helm, one of the clearest messages from this book is strength of garden design. My image selections play up this point, for I wholeheartedly believe that success will always be eluding a garden without “good bones.”
All of the entries in Gardens of the North Shore of Chicago share excellence in design and horticulture. Their common theme? “The keen interest the owners have in their paradises,” as Ben observes. And the driving reason that he believes these owners have each created a “garden with soul.” Importantly, the last chapter in the book is devoted to the world class Chicago Botanic Garden, which deserves much credit for design inspiration and the high quality of these private gardens.
It has been such a pleasure to share a sampling of these exemplary twenty-five gardens with you. Please join me in wishing my friend and author, Ben Lenhardt Jr., warm congratulations. Now you can zip over to Amazon to purchase one for yourself (and those on your holiday gift list).
All photos credit, Scott Shigley Photography.