Idea Gardens

The Idea Gardens in Naperville evolved over a five-year period of time, expanding into an area housing over 100 types of plants, thanks to the vision of Ron Ory.

“Last year I think I tallied up over 400 hours out here between the vegetables and the Idea Gardens,” said Master Naturalist Ron Ory.

The gardens serve as an inspiration for first time growers or experienced gardeners to try new things in their own backyard.

“People are probably a little bit scared about transforming their own yard,” adds Ory. “I say, start small and start with a limited number of plants, and start with plants you know are going to grow here in this area. That’s the benefit of the native plants.”

And those are showcased in the aptly named, Native Garden, which keeps it local with plants naturally found in Illinois, like wildflowers and shrubs.

The Rain Garden offers solutions for those heavy water fall seasons with landscaping to help prevent flooding. And the Sensory Garden hits all five senses, with colorful annuals to see, fruits and veggies to taste, herbs to smell, plants to touch and a grass garden for sound.

This visual display offers endless possibilities with information on each type of plant and its growing requirements. Plus, it gives gardeners a chance to see what plants look like and how they may be used at home.

Master Gardener Jan Gricus said, “the little bluestem grass that I saw out here is something I wanted to make sure that I put in at home too. The swamp milkweed is wonderful here, so I have some of that at home too. You can learn a lot just by being out here and looking around.”

The Idea Gardens is a culmination of hard work and patience, resulting in a year-round display of Mother Nature’s finest.

“I’ve gotten a lot of help from a lot of people, Scouts, the garden club, Naperville Community Gardeners, but it is kind of my baby and I enjoy working out here and seeing things grow,” said Ory. “As I’ve told others, I’ve still got the attitude of a four or five year old to say ‘that sunflower I planted is now 12 feet tall’ and ‘look what I did’, and so I’m quite proud of what a collective group of folks has been able to do out here.”

A recent addition to the gardens provides information on the plants as well as QR codes with virtual resources for gardeners.

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