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Geneva City Hall's Native Prairie Garden Is Truly Groundbreaking

The garden artistry outside Geneva's City Hall showcases the prairie environment of Geneva and the state of Illinois.

In the year of the Geneva City Hall centennial, how appropriate is it for volunteers to surround the historic building with a prairie garden that showcases Geneva's contemporary style as well as its horticultural legacy?

At Monday's City Council meeting, Community Development Director Ellen Divita and Mayor Kevin Burns paid tribute to the people who made the prairie garden come together through donations of time, creative talent and resources.

The garden in Geneva is similar to the Lurie Garden in Millennium Park, the 2.5 acre parcel in Chicago's Loop that cost $13.2 million and has a $10 million endowment for maintenance and upkeep.

But unlike the Lurie Garden, Geneva's garden is likely to save money.

"This will hopefully reduce some of the maintenance by reducing the amount of turf introducing something that is perennial and long lasting," said Jay Womack, who chairs the city's Natural Resources Committee and who donated his expertise to design the garden.

The garden also showcases the plant combinations and plant communities that will be made available to the general public through independent garden centers in spring 2013, said Trish Beckjord of Midwest Ground Cover, one of several sponsors of the Geneva project.

More than 900 plants were donated, due to the generosity of the Geneva Lions Club, Midwest Groundcovers, Midwest Trading, Northwind Perennial Farm, WRD Environmental, Inc., and the city's Natural Resources Committee.

"We really want to honor that environment by bringing back some of the legacy of the native prairie gardens that used to blanket this entire state," Womack said.

Roy Diblik, co-owner of Northwind Perennial Farm in Lake Geneva, WI, said the planting provides not only a practical use and sense of community, but also can be considered a work of art.

"The idea is to have diversity in the planting, kind of have an Impressionistic feeling, similar to a Monet or Renoir painting," he said.

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