northbrook garden club

THE HERITAGE PEONY PROJECT - The Beginning

PRESERVATION

image5

 In partnership with the Northbrook Historical Society & the Northbrook Park District, the NGC is working to preserve heritage peonies transplanted by Edward "Bud" Smith from the original Northbrook Gardens.  His grandfather, William F. Christman Sr., managed the Northbrook Gardens from 1928 to 1945 on the former Sky Harbor Airport site  

HISTORY

image6

After Northbrook Gardens closed due to the expansion of Sky Harbor, Mr. Christman went to work developing peonies with Brother Charles Rekamp at Techny's Mission Gardens. Brother Charles is  well known for developing conifers, such as the Techny Arborvitae, and several varieties of daylillies. 

NORTHBROOK GARDENS

image7

This painting of the Northbrook Gardens was commissioned in memory of William F. Christman Jr., who was a member of the Northbrook High School Class of 1942. It is the only known color image of the Gardens in bloom.  The hanger in the background is part of the former Sky Harbor Airport. 

SOURCE: Northbrook Historical Society

Field Work Before & After

image8

The preservation project began with field work - LOTS of field work - that began  at the end of May 2019. The peonies were hidden in an overgrown field.  Little did we know the colorful, extravagant blooms and varieties that awaited us. 

Volunteers in the Field

image9

These are just a few of the NGC members & volunteers that started with hand weeding, trimming, and lopping of small trees in order to locate, mark and identify more than 150 peony plants.  

Paeonia & Spring

image10

Double whites began blooming at the original Christman farm house.  These plants sent up buds at the end of May and held their long lasting blooms well into late June.  They survived spring rainstorms and high winds. 

Donation of Glass Slides

image11

 Throughout his career, Mr. Christman took photos of peonies which were developed on glass slides. His grandson, Bud Smith, donated 400 glass slides to the Chicago Botanic Garden for restoration and preservation in their archives. Mr. & Mrs. Smith and several members of NGC gathered to view the delicate slides.

Cultivars captured on glass slides

image12


Left: Asa Gray, Double Pink, Midseason


Right: Apple Blossom, Single Pink, Midseason

Cultivars captured on glass slides

image13


Left: Baroness Schroeder, Double Whites, Midseason


Right: Auguste Dessert, Double Pink, Midseason

Interested in the next step and the upcoming "Big Dig"?

Contact us