The Chicago Bungalow Association has announced the winners of its fifth annual garden contest, with winners spread across the city’s extensive bungalow belt.
The association received 113 entries, which it trimmed down to 10 finalists in each of three categories — front garden, rear/side garden and window/planter garden — with popular vote determining the winners.
Chatham resident Emma Coleman was voted to have the best front garden, which Coleman says is in memory of her father, who was a landscaper. She revived her topiary shrubs by treating and trimming them herself and added flowers rescued from nurseries to add color.
“I like to save plants, so I’ll go into a nursery, and I’ll get the plants that look like they need the most help,” said Coleman, who’s lived in her Chatham bungalow for seven years, in a video interview. “And I’ll bring them back to life.”
Albany Park residents Tony and Cindy Weyers won the rear/side garden category.
When they moved into their home nearly seven years ago, the backyard only had a patio and crabapple tree. The Weyers added to the garden over the years including a koi pond, deck and pergola.
“We tried a vegetable garden, then we realized after butterflies and birds started coming that we were more interested in having visitors to our yard,” said Tony Weyers. “So, we’ve kind of transformed that into our pollinator garden.”
During the pandemic, the Weyers began raising monarch butterflies on their back porch and releasing them into the backyard.
West Lawn residents Mitzi and Gilberto Cantu won the window/planter box category. When they moved into the foreclosed home six years ago, it had broken concrete stairs and walkways and no front garden.
The home now showcases large wooden planter boxes designed by Mitzi and built by Gilberto, as well as large potted plants alongside the rebuilt front steps.
“What we actually love about it is just the sense of being part of the community,” said Gilberto Cantu. “When we moved in, most of the block didn’t have flowers, but now we’re seeing flowers popping off everywhere.”
Each of the three winners received a $500 cash prize, an award plaque handcrafted by Craeft LLC, a $50 gift certificate from City Grange garden centers, a one-hour consultation from Prairie Godmothers and an original garden-themed artwork by recycled newspaper collage artist Catherine Elizabeth.
Five randomly selected entrants received a free rain barrel.
For the second year, the CBA donated $25 to South and West side community gardens for every eligible contest entry received. In 2021, that translated into a total of $3,000 donated to six community gardens.
To see more photos of the winning gardens and runner ups, visit the Chicago Bungalow Association’s website.