West Cook Wild Ones’ annual garden walk, “Birds, Bees & Butterflies: A Native Garden Walk” returns July 22 from 1 to 5 p.m. This year, for the first time, the featured gardens and gardeners hail from Riverside and Berwyn, Illinois.
The walk will feature 11 gardens, and homeowners and gardeners will be on hand to answer participants’ questions about plant names, favorite plants and other aspect of their native gardens.
Laura Hartwell Berlin, who co-chairs the West Cook Wild Ones Garden Walk Committee with Adrian Ayres Fisher, says that in previous years, the walk has been focused on Oak Park and River Forest, and calls this year’s move to the south and west an exciting one.
A few Berwyn gardens have been featured in the past, but Berlin says Riverside is “all new” to the tour.
“Members of the Wild Ones community from Riverside came to us,” she said. “Riverside is such a lovely community. It’s especially meaningful to Adrian because she is the site steward for the National Grove Woods, a Cook County Forest Preserve that is adjacent to Berwyn and Riverside.”
Fisher says that expanding the walk to other suburbs makes sense, given the growing membership of West Cook Wild Ones. There are more than 250 members throughout the western suburbs, and the membership spans as far north as Evanston and east into Chicago.
Fisher notes that interest in native gardening picked up during the pandemic when people had more time to focus on their gardens, but the growth has continued in recent years.
“It’s kind of remarkable,” she said. “This year, we sold