With more people gardening than ever, organizers of the Chicago Excellence in Gardening Awards are keen to see what the city's green thumbs have been getting up to in area yards, parkways, patios, school lots and other green spaces.
Submissions are being accepted through July 1 for the 2022 awards, which will be judged in-person again after going virtual in 2020 and 2021.
“The past two years have seen an explosion in the number of American gardeners,” Mike Nowak, awards founder, said in a statement. “That’s true in Chicago as well, and we’re eager to see what new and experienced gardeners can teach us about what they’ve learned during the pandemic. Gardening is more important than ever, not only to address food insecurity but even as a personal way of tackling species loss and climate change.”
The contest is open to all Chicago residents and entry is free. Categories include residential, school, organization, community garden and urban farm, with sub-categories for ornamental, vegetable, container and specialty gardens. The application form calls for two photos, which can be from the 2021 growing season, and asks entrants to share their garden's story.
Judges will pay on-site visits to get a firsthand look at plantings. “They will be looking for a garden that is well-planned, well-maintained, artistic, creative, and connected to the community,” Nowak said. “But they will especially be looking for signs that the garden is environmentally sound — that it treats the earth gently, features native plants wherever possible, and caters to birds and wildlife.”
Award recipients will be announced in late summer. Though no prize money is involved, honorees will receive display signs and bragging rights.