Volunteer to Help at the Spring Fair
Every spring, the Garden Fair committee depends upon the volunteer efforts of dozens of enthusiastic workers, to help set up and run the fair. Many of the current Garden Fair committee members started as volunteers, and we quickly learned it was a fantastic way to learn all about gardening in our particular area!
During the Fair setup (always the Thursday after Mother's Day), we need hard-working volunteers to help unload the trucks (if you have a strong back), and then price and sort the plants (helpful if you have good knees). On Friday morning when the Garden Fair chair blows the opening whistle, we usually need extra help to keep the plants organized, to help guide customers, and especially to help with tallying and Will-Call for plant pickup. Talliers, cashiers, and floor assistants are needed throughout the two days of the sale.
volunteer at the Garden Fair, sign up at
or leave a message with George at 773-288-3716.
We have been involved for years in establishing and caring for the parkway garden at 53rd and Lake Park (across from Hyde Park Bank), and the garden on the south border of Spruce Park (54th and Blackstone), as well as being involved as sponsors and donors and workers in the formal garden in Nichols Park (north end) and the wildflower meadow at 54th Street on the west side of Nichols. Past efforts included planting hundreds of daffodils on the 55th Street berm.
The formal garden has always been a special case. When new land was added to Nichols Park more than a decade ago, a neighborhood survey showed that people wanted a formal perennial garden there. The Park District was willing to install such a garden provided the public, the community, would plan, buy plants, plant them, and care for it. Garden Fair members were involved from the first planning of this garden, working with a wonderful Park District designer, Maria Whiteman, to create a formal layout of a fountain surrounded by four cornerpieces and the straight beds in between. It's what is called a four-square garden--a square plan divided by walkways, with an important centerpiece.
The Garden Fair has strengthened our historical involvement in Nichols Park by expanding our responsibility for the planning, buying of plants, and planting of the formal beds. We can't think of a better use of flower money than in making the formal garden more and more beautiful. The Park District (by means of an outside contract) will be responsible for weeding, trash pick-up, major pruning, and supplying trees or large shrubs when needed. But it is important that this be a community effort, in keeping with the original deal with the Park District, not just a "Garden Fair" effort.
Therefore we need local gardeners who would like to join a Nichols Park Formal Garden committee, who will work on planning, shopping, planting and transplanting, and supervising others. And we need people who are just willing to dig holes, plant bulbs, and generally follow instructions. It should be exciting: we will be planting more beds, including a half-moon knot garden at the western end, and revamping our ten-year-old beds around the fountain. If you are interested, call Bam at (773) 288-7054.
In the smaller gardens, we will be planting plants from the Fair, providing ongoing care through the summer, and planting bulbs in the fall. If you live near one of them or have come to love either, please call: for Spruce Park, George at (773) 955-4455; for Nichols Park, Lesley at (773) 947-8313.
The wildflower meadow in Nichols is special in many ways. Occasional "meadow burns" help keep down weeds and promote the growth of the wild prairie plants (the Park District handles the burn). Volunteers are needed for planting and weeding, and later deadheading. It's a fascinating place to watch the natural growth and succession of blooms and the slow appearance of wildlife. We had a garter snake last year!