NEAR WEST SIDE — After rain, snow, and disease ravaged Skinner Park’s rose garden, the Skinner Park Advisory Council decided to step in.
Over the past four years, the western half of the garden along the 1400 block of West Monroe Street has started to sink, preventing proper drainage and damaging plants, advisory council President May Toy said.
In addition, the garden’s roses were destroyed by rosette disease, a crippling virus that only affects rose bushes.
Toy said the council has reached out multiple times to the Chicago Park District regarding the drainage issues, but with not much response. So instead, on Saturday, she and more than 350 volunteers — many students from Rush University — will be cleaning up the beds to make way for new plants.
A fundraiser would still be needed to buy new plants and flowers for the garden. Toy said she hopes some of that fundraising will come from community dollars gathered by the new Friends of Skinner Park-Loomis Street Gardens, an initiative made possible by a nearly $5,000 grant awarded by the National Environmental Education Foundation and funded by Toyota.
Through the Friends of Skinner Park, Toy wants to encourage neighbors and local businesses to commit to an annual membership fee that would go towards fixing and beautifying the two garden spaces. A gazebo for hosting summer concerts has also been in the works and Toy said she hopes funding for that can be secured by next spring.
Toy said this kind of upkeep is necessary as the garden space events have become more popular over the past several years.
“We really want these events to be free. We feel that we want everybody in the park to be welcome,” said Toy, who lives three blocks away from the park.
Anyone interested in helping Saturday should show up to garden anytime between 1:30-5:30 p.m.