The Riverside Garden Club will hold its biennial Garden Walk on Sunday, showcasing eight of the most notable home-grown gardens in the village.

Joan Wiaduck, the co-chairperson of the club’s Garden Walk committee, said this is the 12th year the club has organized the walk, and that she and the rest of the committee have spent the two years since the last event
scouting for gardens for this year. She said they received over
20 garden nominations from residents and visited each
one last summer until they had narrowed it down to just a handful.

As for criteria, Wiaduck said they looked at not only the appearance of the garden, but also how it was created. All of the gardens on the walk were designed and grown by homeowners, not professional landscape companies. Wiaduck said encouraging people to grow their own gardens is one of the main goals of the club.

“These are not done by professional gardeners,” she said. “The homeowners are the ones who did the work, and that’s what we advocate. The ones that really stand out are the ones who did it themselves.”

This requirement is related to the main purpose of the walk, which is to give other Riverside residents ideas about what they can do in their own yards. Wiaduck said homeowners are generally on-hand during the walk to explain to visitors how they created their gardens and to share any gardening tips they might have, such as which plants work well in Riverside soil.

To that end, Wiaduck said they also try to create a diverse group of gardens on the walk, with various sizes and styles to show people the variety of options they have open to them.

“We try to get a nice variety,” she said. “You can have small gardens, container gardens, large gardens, anything. There’s a garden there for everybody.”

The diversity is apparent in looking at just two of the gardens on this year’s walk. Nick and Becky Devaris’ backyard garden, located at 173 Gage Road, has been highlighted because of its accessory structures?”its gazebo, porch and deck?”rather than its landscape. In contrast, Bob and Corinne Ardisana’s garden, at 329 Nuttall Road, features two ponds full of fish and frogs, various plants and even a house for their pet duck, and was chosen for its variety of plants and wildlife.

Nick Devaris built all of the many structures in their backyard himself, from the back porch and deck to the enclosed gazebo where he now escapes to watch TV, listen to music or sleep away an afternoon.

Becky Devaris was the gardener of the family, surrounding Nick’s handiwork with various perennials and hanging flower baskets from every corner. Nick joined her when he “ran out of things to build,” and more recently they’ve also recruited their 4-year-old granddaughter, Jolene, to pick up leaves and water plants when she visits.

The Devarises are not members of the Garden Club?”which is not a prerequisite for being a part of the walk?”and said they are a little anxious about the idea of having visitors scrutinize their work this weekend.

The theme they’ve chosen for their garden is “The 1940’s: The War Years,” and Becky will be decorating the garden with things that may have been in gardens during
that time, such as old board games, and playing music from that era.

“I’m a big WWII nut, so I wanted to show what people would be doing when they were in their backyard,” she said. “I want it to accentuate the area, not overwhelm it.”

For the Ardisanas, who are also new to this event, their theme revolves around their garden’s main inhabitant, Tabatha the Duck. Rescued by the family two years ago, she has since been given her own outdoor house and white picket fence, both hand-built by Bob Ardisana. She shares the yard with the koi, goldfish and frogs that live in the two ponds, also built by Bob over the past 12 years.

As for plantlife, the ponds are surrounded by perennials, some taken out of the forest preserve and left to grow wild on their own. There are also flower boxes featuring brightly colored flowers, and even a vegetable garden.

Like the Devarises, the Ardisana garden has also become a family affair, with Bob, Corinne and their three daughters?”Ryanne, Rhiannon and Racquel?”all helping to take care of the animals and plants. For most of the time, they’ve been learning as they go.

“I just sort of felt my way through it,” Bob said of his pond building efforts. “We didn’t have any plan or scheme, we just knew what look we liked.”

In addition to the Devaris and Ardisana gardens, other sites along the walk include Melinda Lehman and Jim Cybul’s European cottage-style garden, which was named the best overall garden in The Chicago Tribune’s Glorious Garden Contest last year, as well as St. Mary’s rectory and children’s gardens.

Wiaduck said she expects about 500 people to attend the event this year. Tickets are $15 each, and can be purchased in advance at Pringle’s Flowers (23 E. Burlington St.), Century 21 Village Realty (52 E. Burlington St.) or First Service Realty (90 Bloomingbank Road) or at any of the gardens along the walk (266 Lionel Road, 173 Gage Road, 97 Herrick Road, 126 Herrick Road, 61 N. Herbert Road, 329 Nuttall Road, 139 Southcote Road and 155 Southcote Road) which will be taking place between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.