The front garden of this huge apartment building on our street ( circa 1913 ) was planted by a Botanist about 5 years ago. With no lawn or evergreen shrubs the landscape was very barren in the winter.
The Botanist knew plants, I grant you, and filled the landscape with $75,000 of perennials, most of which were spreaders. With no one taking care of the garden on a regular basis you can guess how quickly it turned into an overgrown unkempt yard.
Now the building has been sold and is going condo. The new owners are ripping out all the shrubs and perennials and told the neighbors they could take anything they wanted. As word spread I saw trucks with several workers pull up and dig out huge shrubs, hostas 4 feet in diameter , small trees and perennials. Homeowners also came out and dug plants for their own gardens.
I secured a beautiful blue hosta with white fragrant flowers and some Japanese knotweed for myself.
I met the new owners and inquired about their development plans for the building .They said they were going to bulldoze all the trees and install a new landscape with sod, fountains, small trees and flowers. I pointed out a beautiful weeping Fagus Sylvatica 'Dawyck's Purple " ( Purple leaf beech ) and a Newport Plum that should be saved from the bulldozer.
I also gave them a little oral history of the neighborhood. One of my neighbors who was born and raised on the street said that when the building was opened to the public in 1913 it was a big society event . Now it's beautiful facade will be restored to its former glory thanks to our soon-to-be designated historic Chicago landmark .