The 29th Annual Oak Park & River Forest Garden Walk is back on Sunday, June 25. Sponsored by the Friends of the Oak Park Conservatory (FOPCON) and the Garden Club of Oak Park and River Forest, the walk will feature eight Oak Park and River Forest gardens, as well as one community garden.

Torrence O’Haire and Drew Davis share their Oak Park garden on the walk. The pair have affectionately nicknamed their garden “The Continental,” because the Continental Divide slopes across their backyard.

After moving into the home two years ago, they removed a failing mulberry tree and got to work to create an urban oasis. Antique roses commingle in the yard with a culinary garden that is rife with antique and heirloom varieties of apples, herbs, mushrooms and tomatoes. 

Birds and bugs have made themselves at home, and the owners say their kitchen and freezer are filled year-round with the fruits of their labors.

On Superior Street, homeowners Ana Boyer and Chad Davis have a home with an interesting past. Their residence began life as a barn and was relocated from Forest Avenue in 1890. In 1910, it was converted into a squash court, garage and hen house. Another conversion followed in 1921, when the building became a single-family home.

When they purchased the home in 2016, the garden was overgrown and filled with weeds. The entire yard is shaded by an ancient bur oak tree, so the couple set about creating the ultimate shade garden. They formed a rounded path throughout the yard from 400 brick pavers they found buried at the base of their fence.

Chad Davis (above) and Ana Boyer transformed an overgrown yard into the ultimate shade garden featuring a path made from 400 brick pavers found on the property. | Sara Janz

“Ana is an artist and has a good eye,” Sue Boyer, co-chair of the Garden Walk and no relation to Ana. “It’s a great example of a shade garden.”

On Clarence Avenue, Susan and Richard Katz’s home and garden were a blank slate when they moved in 40 years ago. Slowly and deliberately, they set about realizing their dream of surrounding the home with an inviting garden,

When their daughter Rachel was in third grade, she brought home a seedling tree in a plastic bag on Arbor Day. That tree is now a towering white pine in their garden. The Katzes say their garden is a Japanese style garden, designed with the intent that visitors move slowly through the space in peace and tranquility.

Boyer says the walk also includes a garden on Clinton Avenue, where the home was once a two-flat. The owners converted it back into a single-family home. Now that they are empty nesters, they’ve turned the second floor into a B&B space and have created a unique patio in their garden.

A house in River Forest has a spacious garden with a large front yard devoted to planned plantings and an area set aside for the owners’ grandchildren, and on Elizabeth Court, the owner was inspired by his late wife to create a formal Zen garden. 

Boyer states that all of the gardeners have put enormous effort and time into tending their yards.

“All of these people are just very hardworking gardeners,” Boyer said.

The garden of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church is the public garden on this year’s walk. During a 2018 renovation following a fire, much of the church’s garden areas and grass were destroyed. Members came together to reimagine the gardens.

Two Eagle Scout projects focused on remediation. One placed a French drain on the north side of the church and incorporated water-loving native plants. The other laid the front lawn with sod. Dig Right In designed and planted a tiered garden at the main entrance. Deep Roots, a church neighbor, provided mulch and dirt.

A Memorial Garden is a place to inter the ashes of members and friends. In all, more than 100 volunteers came together to create the garden.

The Garden Club and FOPCON are always on the lookout for gardens to feature on the annual walk and often need to start looking for the next year’s features when gardens are at their peak, just after the walk for the current year wraps up.

Boyer says that this year’s walk participants will be able to nominate future gardens while on the walk.

“We are always looking for suggestions from the community,” Boyer said. “They end up being great. We hear so much through word of mouth.”

Before you go

The Oak Park & River Forest Garden Walk takes place on Sunday, June 25 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets are $18 in advance and $23 after 5 p.m. on June 24. 

Tickets can be ordered online at or Children 12 and under are free, but no strollers are permitted in the gardens.

The day of the walk, tickets will be available for purchase by cash, check or credit card, and advanced ticket purchasers can pick up their garden guides at two locations: the Oak Park Conservatory at 615 Garfield St. and the Cheney Mansion at 220 N. Euclid Ave.

Day-of tickets can be purchased and garden guides picked up between 9:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. on June 25.

Restrooms will be available at both pickup sites. The walk will not be cancelled due to inclement weather.

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