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2012 OPRF Garden Walk


Taking a stroll along Harrison Street in the Oak Park Harrison Arts District offers a remarkable treasure of creativity. Artists of varied media live, work, and craft these treasures. One artist, Mark Finger, creates gardens, and his artistic treasures are along the public parkways in the District, and in the private spaces he calls home. For more than 20 years, Mark has left his ‘mark’ on the green spaces around him. Fortunately, his private gardens will be open to the public on Sunday, July 1, 2012, from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. as stops on the 19th Annual OPRF Garden Walk.

Concealed behind apartment buildings, Mark’s hidden gardens explode with color from extraordinary plant arrangements that are framed by massive bamboo and evergreens. Expertly placed garden structures, some sporting a variety of roses, provide additional focal points. A lilac from his parents, beech trees, and several boxwoods enclose the spaces as well, creating intimate garden rooms. Containers of annuals highlight the patio areas. Mark’s creative gardening touches are also evident in some of public parkway areas along Harrison Street.

Another public garden on this year’s OPRF Garden Walk is the much-awaited space opened in 2011 at the Oak Park Conservatory. The Rubinstein Memorial Garden was designed around a patio area that houses a fountain and sculpture. A plant wall is set among the perennials and trees that reflect the energy of this enclosed garden.

Behind a massive stone wall in River Forest a serene, private garden beckons with charming garden artifacts and interesting Midwest native perennials. A courtyard planted with several varieties of succulents, hydrangea, and a crimson Japanese maple is reached by a brick and flagstone curved pathway. The pathway then leads to the rear garden and deck, where creatively planted containers and artistically placed antiques and artifacts enhance the plant areas. Weeping evergreens add interesting focal points.

Not to be outdone by the hidden gems on the Garden Walk is an angular modern garden that offsets a traditional bungalow. Geometrical stones and bricks augment a trellis covered in wisteria, while a ‘midnight garden’ beckons at sundown. The ‘urban size’ of this garden does not limit the creative use of contemporary plant beds or entertainment space.

If adult entertainment space ideas are needed, then a large brick colonial offers two deck areas, a fireplace, and a patio covered in wisteria. A large children’s play area is creatively used to give the entire yard a family-friendly environment. The house also sports many large, diverse perennial beds that are well designed and well maintained.

Other well-designed entertainment spaces, vegetable containers and gardens, and an English perennial project are included in an impressive selection of gardens. Also, in conjunction with the Harrison Street Arts District, two raffle prizes have been donated to enhance the 2012 Garden Walk. These prizes are: 1) a Summer Arts Camp Certificate in the Harrison Arts District and 2) a basket of Merchant Gift Certificates. (Raffle tickets, $5 each or 5 for $20, will be sold on the day of the Garden Walk.)

Tickets for the OPRF Garden Walk are $15 in advance, or $18 on the day of the Walk. Ticket vendor locations for ticket sales are:

Oak Park Visitors’ Bureau, 1010 W. Lake Street, Oak Park, (708) 848-1500
The Magic Tree Book Store, 141 N. Oak Park Ave., Oak Park, (708) 848-0770
Westgate Flower and Plant Shop, 841 S. Oak Park Ave, Oak Park, (708) 386-0072
Good Earth Greenhouse, 7900 W. Madison St., River Forest, (708) 366-9500
Carriage Flower Shop, 124 N. Marion St., Oak Park, (708) 383-4862
Oak Park Conservatory, 615 Garfield St., Oak Park, (708) 386-4700
Buzz Café, 905 S. Lombard Ave., Oak Park, (708) 524-2899

Tickets can also be purchased online with PayPal at, or by mail by sending a check payable to: GCOPRF, P. O. Box 5633, River Forest, IL 60305

The Garden Walk is a self-guided tour that begins at the Oak Park Conservatory (615 Garfield St., Oak Park). Beginning at 9:30 a.m., tickets can be purchased or exchanged for the Garden Guide, which is required for entry to the gardens on the Walk.
The Garden Walk is a jointly sponsored educational fundraiser for The Garden Club of Oak Park and River Forest, and FOPCON (Friends of the Oak Park Conservatory).

For more information, 708-386-4700 or

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