Friday Tours

The 2019 Perennial Plant Association National Symposium in conjunction with All-America Selections and National Garden Bureau has two great tour options on Friday, August 2!


Michigan Marvels Tour, sponsored by Walters Gardens*

photo of Walters Gardens, credit: Andrew Jager

Friday, August 2

6:15 AM - 8:15 PM

$219 Member Rate / $329 Non-Member

The Michigan Marvels Tour, sponsored by Walters Gardens, will visit Midwest Groundcovers, Walters Gardens, Chris Hansen’s private garden, the Martin garden, The Walters Gardens field production, and Sawyer Home & Garden.

Midwest Groundcovers

In 2019, Midwest Groundcovers will celebrate its 50th anniversary of providing quality plants to the Chicagoland area and beyond. Its main headquarters in St. Charles, IL, Midwest purchased 300 acres in Fennville, MI in 1986. Just a few miles from the lake, this location allowed us to take advantage of the slightly warmer zone than our Illinois locations, as well as the good soil for field production. Growing began there in 1995, and there are currently 120 acres in use between a 15,000 square foot greenhouse, growing shelters and field production.

This facility produces over 6 million units annually, including a portion of our 3” groundcover varieties and close to 350 varieties of perennials and ornamental grasses in #1’s and #3’s. The nursery produces approximately 65% of its own liner material, grown from cuttings, field divisions and seed.

Midwest prides itself on its dedication to water reclamation and conservation, not just in Michigan, but at all of our production facilities. Sites are graded to move water from growing areas into retention ponds, and growing shelters are built on aggregate bases to allow water to move into drain tiles and flow back into the system. Water can then be pumped from these ponds and used for irrigation.

All of the material grown in Michigan is transferred to St. Charles for sales. In 2017, Midwest began to implement Lean Flow in our pulling and transfer processes. This allowed us to increase our transfer efficiency by over 25% in the first year alone.

  • Growing over 350 varieties of perennials and groundcover
  • 120 acres in production, including growing shelters, field production and a 15,000 sq ft
  • Over 6 million units produced annually – 3”, 1 gallon, and 3 gallon
  • Company-wide dedication to water reclamation and conservation – rainfall and irrigation water
    collected and re-used.
  • Use of Lean Flow for order pulling and transferring material to St. Charles distribution hub

 Walters Gardens

  • Expansive perennial display gardens, including new variety and Proven Winners® showcase beds
  • Over 550,000 square feet of greenhouse, including DeCloet Acclimation Range (finished 2017) featuring Visser booms/Damatex control system and Ikeuchi dry fog system.
  • Around 1,500 acres of field production, rotating between perennial and nutritional cover crops
  • One of the largest facilities for processing Bare Root perennials in North America

Walters Gardens, Inc. is the proud supplier of Proven Winners® Perennials and longtime member and supporter of the Perennial Plant Association. Here you’ll see how over 1,000 varieties of new and classic perennials are produced on a grand scale. Come get a glimpse of how our operation works with our extensive greenhouses, field production, bare root processing, hybridizing, and trials department. If you haven’t visited us lately, we’ve made some updates to our greenhouses, including a new DeCloet Acclimation Range (finished 2017) featuring Visser booms running on the Damatex control system. We’ve been doing field production since we started in 1946 and our wide selection bare root product makes us unique in the perennial world. We have over 1,500 acres of field production, rotating between perennial and nutritional cover crops.

Hansen Private Garden

Set in Zeeland, Michigan in a quaint neighborhood overlooking a lake, Chris Hansen's jaw-dropping garden is full of his own Sunsparkler sedums and Chick Charms® brand of sempervivum as well as other perennials that prefer hot, dry conditions. Gorgeous rock gardens are perfectly punctuated with unique plants from succulents to conifers. Garden decor invites child-like wonder and almost ever rock cranny is filled with some sort of tiny plant. A sitting area with a fire pit overlooks the small lake that the property sits on to round out the inviting appeal of this suburban oasis.

Martin Private Garden 

Susan Martin’s garden is a testament to what one person can accomplish on an average sized suburban lot. Under a canopy of mature white pines, red oaks and sugar maples near the shore of Lake Michigan in zone 6a, Susan cultivates hundreds of varieties of shade loving perennials, shrubs, small trees and groundcovers. Though the native soil is pure beach sand, years of enriching it with shredded leaves and other natural materials has transformed it into rich, acidic loam. 


More than 50 decorative containers filled with colorful annuals are changed out annually with new color themes. Designing unique container recipes is where Susan’s creativity shines. This year, she is sharing her talents by offering her custom designed containers through the local farmer’s market.   


Susan’s garden is as much a trial garden and teaching space as it is a planned landscape. She hosts small tours through the seasons and encourages neighbors to stop by and learn how to garden in their unique lakeshore conditions. Susan tests new varieties every year to learn what will grow in shade and reports her findings through her numerous presentations, writings and social media channels throughout the year. Follow her progress on Facebook @Gardener Sue’s News.


 Sawyer Home & Garden Center

Sawyer Home & Garden Center goes beyond your typical Garden Center and offers fresh produce, gourmet foods, unique gifts, fine spirits, home décor, jewelry and apparel. This is a great spot to stock up on souvenirs! Attendees will also enjoy browsing their selections of annuals, succulents, pre-potted containers and urns as well as their tree, shrub and rose nursery.

South by Southwest Design Tour* - SOLD OUT

photo of Grigus Private Garden, credit: Kyle Lambert


Friday, August 2

7:00 AM - 5:30 PM

$149 Member Rate / $229 Non-Member

The South by Southwest Design Tour will visit the Koziol, Griggs, Adelmann, O’Brien, Boyce, and Donovan private gardens as well as the Morton Arboretum.

 Koziol Private Garden

This one-acre garden features expansive beds and borders in sun and shade filled with annuals, perennials and flowering shrubs designed to attract hummingbirds all summer, along with songbirds, butterflies and other nectar feeders. A large vegetable garden and raised beds are filled with edibles and cut flowers. The garden was featured in a 10-page spread in Country Gardens magazine in 2017. See more at


 Grigus Private Garden


Chicagoland Gardening magazine featured this delightful two-acre garden, a mini-arboretum filled with large ornamental and native trees. In the past 25 years, the owners have planted flowering shrubs and perennials that rub elbows with annuals in a series of beds and borders. The owners’ turtles and a bevy of frogs make their home in the water feature, which attracts a variety of wildlife.


 Adelmann Private Garden


Sweeping borders in sun and shade surround the stone house, built in 1842.  A woodland border features a bevy of native wildflowers and perennials. Around the stone milk house, a cottage-style garden boasts annuals, perennials and native grasses—prairie dropseed and little bluestem— along with baptisia, salvia, bergenia, heuchera, Russian sage, Joe Pye weed and amsonia. The garden is home to the largest and oldest Austrian pine in the state. 

Morton Arboretum

Situated on the rolling Valparaiso moraine and bisected by the East Branch of the DuPage River in the Chicago suburb of Lisle, The Morton Arboretum ranks among the leading arboreta of the world. Established in 1922 by Mr. Joy Morton, founder of the Morton Salt Company and son of J. Sterling Morton (founder of Arbor Day), the Arboretum encompasses 1,700 acres, including 500 acres of plant collections and gardens; and 900 acres of woodlands, prairie, meadows, lakes and streams.
The Morton Arboretum's living collections are one of the most comprehensive collections of woody plants in North America. On the grounds are 220,000 specimens in the collections and 4,500 different types of trees, shrubs and other plants native to 40 countries, which serve as vital resources for scientific study. Plant collections are categorized by horticultural, geographic, scientific, special habitat (modified soils/sites), evaluation groups, and endangered plants.

Since the Arboretum’s inception, practical, scientific research has been a cornerstone activity, focusing on how to grow healthier trees and to champion healthy tree communities all over the world so the planet can thrive. The Arboretum’s tree breeding program has introduced disease-resistant trees including the AccoladeTM elm (Ulmus davidiana var. japonica 'Morton’), State StreetTM Miyabe’s maple (Acer miyabei 'Morton’) and the Exclamation!TM London planetree (Platanus acerifolia 'Morton Circle’).
The Arboretum’s free Plant Clinic helps homeowners, gardeners and landscape professionals throughout the Chicago region and the world grow healthy, attractive, well-chosen plants. Trained staff and volunteers are available in person, by phone, or by e-mail to help with tree and plant selection, identifying and coping with pests and diseases, and other concerns.

Conservation is a cornerstone of the Arboretum. The Arboretum’s world-renowned 100-acre Schulenberg Prairie is one of the oldest reconstructed prairies in the U.S., while the Arboretum is leading and assisting efforts to prevent extinction and secure the world’s threatened tree species through its Global Tree Conservation Program.

 O’Brien Private Garden

Kellie O’Brien credits growing up on a farm for instilling a love of plants that led to her garden design business (English Gardens) and a passion for creating beautiful residential landscapes. She likes to use a wide variety of plants and says each one not only makes sense with the style of her home, but each one also has a special purpose: it may be a new, innovative variety of annual for height and amazing color, dwarf conifers for small spaces and or evergreens for winter interest. She has hosted many fundraisers in the garden to support the school for girls that her family founded in Africa’s Tanzania. This school not only teaches basic education, but also boasts one of the most lush gardens in the area, thanks to her passion and teaching locals how and what to grow in their arid climate.  

 Donovan Private Garden

This delightful garden surrounds a Victorian painted lady and sits on several suburban lots. The owner, an avid plantswoman, was first inspired by English gardens, but her own sophisticated style shows in the elegant layout and plant combinations. Artfully combined annuals, perennials, herbs, and ornamental trees and shrubs, a formal water feature, containers and structures make this a stunning, inspirational site. 

 *Tours must have a minimum number of participants pre-registered in order to be held.

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