Mark your calendar for our 27th Annual Garden Walk

When: Saturday, June 17, 2023, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Where: Champaign & Urbana

Celebrating its 27th year, the Champaign County Master Gardeners Garden Walk continues to be one of the area’s most anticipated summer events. With six private and two public gardens to tour, this year’s event, entitled Inspirational Gardens: Old, New, Reimagined, promises to enthuse garden lovers, young and old.

Proceeds from ticket sales benefit Champaign County Master Gardener-sponsored community projects, including gardens at both the Champaign County Juvenile Detention Center and Crisis Nursery, the Idea Garden, Senior Grow Boxes, and Ying Ying’s Garden.  Tickets are $10 and free for children ten and under. Advance tickets are sold at Country Arbors Nursery in Urbana, Prairie Gardens in Champaign, or by calling the University of Illinois Extension office at UI 217-333-7672.

Online "will call" sales are available, but tickets may also be purchased at Country Arbors Nursery (1742 CR 1400 N, Urbana, IL 61802) and Prairie Gardens (3000 W Springfield Ave, Champaign, IL 61822). 

Learn About the Gardens On This Year's Walk

Find out about the features of all of the gardens on our walk.

My Secret Garden

From the front yard, there seems to be no secrets in this garden; so many spectacular flowering plants are on display. As a graphic designer, this gardener, plans her garden with color, textures, and layers in mind. But there are two different gardens in this space. The front garden is for the neighborhood and is designed for curb appeal. The back garden is her secret, only seen when she chooses to share it. Fortunately, she and her husband agreed to share it with us this year, to our delight!

Must See: Garden Shed and pond in the backyard

Mobility: Back yard access through the driveway; please respect front lawn access restrictions

The Finish Line

For a garden that looks so well planned, our homeowner states that she’s never had an all-encompassing vision. It’s always been her belief that “a garden should morph and change with needs and nature”. The only thing that is unchanged in this landscape is the home. Everything else seems to have changed in the past 30 years, and especially since this home was last on Garden Walk in 2013. Nature has certainly changed this landscape through disease, removing multiple large shade trees in both the front and backyard, and making it difficult to plant replacements. Careful choices of disease-resistant shrubs and the use of smaller trees in large pots has given this garden the vertical interest needed after that loss. When a plant is damaged or dies, a decision needs to be made. Sometimes the space needs to be filled, but other times not filling that space is the right choice.

Must See: Huge “Golden Mop” False Cypress; slide show featuring their garden over time

Mobility: No Major Issues

The Urban Oasis

When this garden project began 17 years ago on almost an acre of weed-filled compacted land, this homeowner had no experience with gardening and no idea what she was getting into. After only seven years, this gardener was asked to be on Garden Walk in 2013. And now they’re back with a garden that has become even more captivating and enchanting. A favorite book from childhood, “The Secret Garden“ helped inspire her to create a garden experience that surprises and delights those who stumble upon this oasis in the heart of the city.

Must See: Short-grassed low-maintenance lawn adjacent to the living area. Immense privacy.

Mobility: Pathways consist of finely ground stone and softer narrow surfaces of mulch.

Down the Garden Path

You work with what you’re given, you make the best of what you have. That’s whether it is a shady yard or a $0.25 hydrangea. That is what has been done in this beautiful garden that has been on Garden Walk previously in 2015. However, it likely doesn’t look the same. At one time, the homeowner’s desire was to have a big grassy yard with a small flower bed. But more shade equals less lawn, and less lawn equals more garden space. So sometimes less is more!

Must See: Oak leaf hydrangeas, the water feature she built in her back yard

Mobility: Uneven city sidewalks in front. Gravel paths throughout. One step up/down in patio area

My Garden Paradise

This homeowner started out with three terra-cotta pots of red geraniums on the front deck. Surrounding her back deck with hostas was the next step. And after getting bit with the gardening bug, she has never looked back! These modest beginnings have produced an enchanting garden over the past 35 years, populated by many different items, including plants. This gardener adores garden art and it is spread throughout her garden. You will find a wide variety of garden decor, from bird baths and fairy houses to quaint statues and even a purple bicycle. Many are recycled from thrift stores and flea markets. Some, like the hosta leaf shaped butterfly baths that are scattered about are creations of her own, made after seeing something similar on one of her inspirational visits to the Internet.

Must See: Miniature hosta garden near fountain; tin container bird houses

Mobility: Uneven walking surfaces throughout the different garden areas. Very narrow flagstone pathway around large tree on the west side of the house.

Garden of the Towering Redwood

This is a fine example of a mature garden. The homeowner moved here in 1990; this garden was featured once before on the CCMG Garden Walk in 2007. He works on this yard with a vision that has never changed but has evolved gradually. He breaks his yard down into three main spaces; a large side yard that runs along the driveway and the back of the property, a small side yard, which he calls his entertainment yard, and the shade garden, which takes up much of his front yard. Although mature, these gardens remain works in progress, with recent changes incorporating new elements into more established parts. 

Must See: The towering Redwood, of course!

Mobility: Some stone and gravel pathways, grass in back and mulch paths in front

The Prosperity Gardens

In this urban area, just north of downtown Champaign, there are many open spaces yet to be put to use. However, Prosperity Gardens has begun to use a portion of this space as an urban farm. This program of the City of Champaign Township, directed by Nicole Musumeci, is an inspiration to all who happen upon it. What began with two small lots on North First street has grown to encompass this larger one acre area, which currently holds 85 raised beds that were put into production for organic vegetable farming last year.

The Idea Garden

The Idea Garden, located on the University of Illinois Arboretum in Urbana at 2000 S. Lincoln Ave., is 18,000 square feet of planted space. Volunteers work more than 4,500 hours each year in the garden to provide a source of inspiration, relaxation, and continuing education for our community and its visitors. Since 1997, the Idea Garden has been maintained as an educational tool to demonstrate garden design and maintenance ideas, to encourage novice and experienced gardeners to experiment with new plants and techniques, and as a site for public workshops.

Hosted by: The Champaign County Master Gardeners