BY JUDY CARMACK BROSS
From harvest to table no one quite has his finger on the pulse of the change of seasons more than designer Todd Schwebel, so we asked him to open his photo roll for an insider’s peek at some of his favorite fall moments.
A sumptuous mix of home grown hydrangeas and winter berries greet all passerby at Todd’s and announce fall is here!
Todd explains that Indian Corn is de rigeuer on your front door for a proper old-fashioned fall look.
Grown from seed, these grand French marigolds make a big splash in an artisanal vase Schwebel found in Genoa, Italy on a family trip.
No tree turns a more brilliant fall yellow than the ancient Gingko or Maidenhair Tree. The one that towers over the boxwood parterre at Todd’s arrived on a truck with a special over-weight permit as it’s root ball weighed 9 tons!
Al fresco dining is all the rage, and here’s a holiday setting that will inspire even the most sophisticated guests. High-low mix master Schwebel deploys heirloom 19th century coin silver & engraved glass with Edwardian Spode China all set on an uber-hip 1970’s vintage tablecloth he sourced on eBay.
Wielding his grandfather’s vintage Swiss-made shovel, Schwebel enjoys getting his hands dirty on his many house and garden projects.
Giving back runs deep in Todd‘s veins. As a community service project he designed this contemplation garden for historic St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright disciple Barry Byrne in 1919. As a focal point he had the eternal Mother and Child carved from solid marble and placed it against the brilliant scarlet-colored Virginia creeper in this new garden.
More colorful garden texture that rivals a Missoni knit at St. Thomas the Apostle.
The towering “Shawnee Brave“ bald cyprus tree was selected to match the orange terra cotta tiles sheathing the Schwebel House on historic High Street in Peoria.
Jens Jensen popularized the Council Ring in the early 20th century. Todd designed this one from glacial boulders mined from his family’s quarry and sited it to memorialize the historic 17th century meeting spot of the French and Indians high on the bluff over-looking the ancient City of Peoria and the Illinois River where the lambs ear have happily naturalized.
This copse of native burr oaks commands a country lane at Hoffer Oaks in Tazewell County.
You can see for miles and miles at harvest time over the Springfield Prairie outside of Metamora in Woodford County.
The Metamora Courthouse has presided over town square since 1845 in Woodford County. It is only one of two courthouses standing where Abraham Lincoln practiced law before he was elected President.
Illinois grain feeds the world and the agricultural industry has fueled Illinois’ economy for 200 years. Todd’s great-grandfather Ed Hoffer was an early member of this Woodford County institution, busy even on a Sunday during harvest.
Todd can’t resist a good pumpkin patch! This is one of his favorites at American Plant in Bethesda, Maryland.
Pumpkins and gourds give a simple seasonal touch to this elegant front porch in Chevy Chase, Maryland. Todd had the bench custom-made in the federal taste a la Thomas Jefferson.
At another of Todd’s projects in Chevy Chase, this 18th century Italian carved limestone lion keeps watch over a very grand garden.
Monkshood or Aconitum is the last perennial to bloom before frost. Todd thinks it’s blue is the perfect counter point to fall’s many oranges.
Even with global warming we in Chicago cannot grow the glamorous fall-blooming camellia. It is the queen of the fall garden, however, in many of Todd’s east coast garden projects where he brings them in from a speciality grower in North Carolina.
And for the real garden aficionado readers of Classic Chicago, when is the last time you’ve seen a potted pomegranate? Undoubtedly the last time you were at the Chevy Chase Club, of course.
Holly snipped from garden-grown trees is the perfect holiday foil for gourds.
This American heritage breed Narragansett Tom Turkey was snapped by Todd’s mother, Marjorie, at the historic Smith Farm in Tazewell County. The Smith’s have been country neighbor’s to Marjorie’s family since well before the Civil War.
We wish all healthy, festive and joyful holidays no matter where and how you may be celebrating this year!