Dearborn Garden Walk

A Beloved Gold Coast Tradition

Peg Callard (3)

North Dearborn Association  President Peg Callard.

When the North Dearborn Association was founded in 1954, the Gold Coast’s west section was quite different than today. And much credit for restoring beauty to this once grand neighborhood can be attributed to the NDA and its annual Dearborn Garden Walk.

The Garden Walk was begun in the 1950s to inspire property owners to clear away backyard debris and replace existing rubble with greenery, flowering plants and charming garden furniture. The immensely successful result is showcased one Sunday a year when hidden gardens are revealed to supporters of the walk.  The gardens are typically small, but exquisite, patches tucked beside or in back of their owners’ houses — many are innovative, some are traditionally sedate and others wittily augmented for the day. All are delightful.

Although Chicago was drenched by early thunderstorms last Sunday, clouds had cleared away by noon and the area was dry and sunny for the Garden Walk. Among those holding positive thoughts throughout the morning were Board President Peg Callard and Co-chairs Margo Sanida and Mimi Winter. Below are images from a delightful afternoon, followed by pictures of Margo and a few others who were responsible for the success of this year’s Dearborn Garden Walk.

Real Fake Wedding Couple

A favorite vignette this year was The Pleasure of Your Company, a faux wedding at the rear of 1235 North Dearborn. Visitors to the site participated in the ceremony by filling the air with festive bubbles and toasting the couple with lemonade. The convincing scene moved one “guest” to shed real tears.

Barbara the Poodle

The depiction of Bastille Day in this Beekman Place vignette was complete when Barbra, an authentic French poodle, scampered into the space.

Lemonade giirls (2)

  Charlotte and Caroline Hawwa are not only future entrepreneurs, who identified thirsty Garden Walk participants as likely customers, but they are also budding fund raisers who will donate their lemonade stand proceeds to PAWS.

Lemonade Girls (1)

  Caroline was in charge of distributing lemonade and Charlotte managed the bottled water.

Formal LaSalle Garden

Among the afternoon’s delights were a large traditional garden . . .

(ever) green garden

a peaceful fountain with a mermaid . . .

Zen Garden (1)a bit of Zen . . .

Beware of Attack Turtle

and a touch of wit.

Blue Door Kitchen & Garden

The new garden beside Chef Art Smith’s Elm Street Blue Door Kitchen & Garden had opened the day before the Garden Walk, providing an appropriate spot for a late lunch between garden visits.

Stanley Smith(2)

Decked Out with Pearls, a vignette behind a circa 1880 house on West Burton Place, was created by Oak Street Design and sponsored by Fifth Third Bank. Sunday morning’s vigorous thunderstorms left “decked out” mannequins by designer Stanley Smith,  above,  virtually unscathed.

Garden Door from Bali

The Burton Place garden was entered through a magnificent door from Bali.


Another convenient outdoor resting spot was the patio behind Orso’s Restaurant on Wells Street.

Chris & magot Sanida

North Dearborn Association Director Chris Ryan and  Garden Walk Co- chair Margo Sanida are pictured at the afternoon’s headquarters in the Latin  Middle School.  Fellow  Co-chair Mimi Winter was  helping those who needed assistance in navigating through the Walk.

Marlena & lady

NDA Secretary Marlena Egan  and Director Sandee Geringer in Lincoln Park.

Lady & Chuck Sanida.edited

NDA Director Chris Wilson and  Treasurer Chuck Sanida.  


Photo Credit:

Kay Whitfield