Take a tour of Pullman’s greenest and most colorful plazas on the annual Historic Park Walk

Pullman – A garden club in the Far South Side neighborhood is bringing back a favorite tradition after a two-year epidemic hiatus.

The Pullman Garden Historic Club hosts Garden Walk: The Bees and the Birds from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Tickets cost $12 in advance or $15 at the door. For the first time since 2019, community members can enjoy self-guided and guided tours of the neighborhood’s private and public parks.

Plant lovers will learn about how the people who live in Pullman tend the green spaces in their yards and around the neighborhood. People can buy plants, T-shirts, garden collectibles, and more from the Pullman Garden Historic Club or art made by local artists from Pullman Art Space Lofts.

“We have eight or nine gardens, and each has some features, maybe has a pond or something a little different,” said Susan James, vice president of Pullman Garden Historical Club. “And of course all of our gardens are small…so what we pride ourselves on is all the creativity people can show in a small space. They are still very nice, and people are having fun with them.”

Neighbors can also visit a yard during the tour where the neighborhood beekeeper raises bees.

The Pullman Garden Club has between 50 and 60 members who brainstorm about what gardens to do in the community. The group has organized the Garden Walk since the early 1990s, usually holding it on the last Saturday in June, but skipped the event in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic.

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At the annual Historic Garden Walk, members of the community can tour private and public parks and green spaces.

James said it was difficult to get the members back into the fold at the Historic Pullman Garden Club because the majority of the participants are older. James said others have moved on to new hobbies or haven’t had the same amount of time they did before to commit to the club.

“These are small homes…and tend to attract singles, seniors and retirees,” James said. “We are getting older, and some of us are…so we are always looking for some youngsters to get involved.…It is a challenge to keep things going.”

James said that getting young people into their work is not a new challenge for the Pullman Garden Historic Club. Previously, James and other members of the Garden Club have partnered with local schools, including Gwendolyn Brooks College Preparatory Academy High School and University of Chicago Law School. Young volunteers from the Pullman Methodist Soap Factory also helped club members pull weeds, plant flowers, and maintain lawns and other leafy plants.

With school groups and others interested in the Pullman community making regular trips for tours, members of the Pullman Garden Historical Club have taken it upon themselves to beautify the neighborhood’s green spaces, including Arcade Park and Pullman Park.

“Whenever we reach out or make a call, we can use some help, it’s great,” James said. “If you attend a whole group of young people, you can get a job done in one afternoon.”

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Front yard outside a house in Pullman.

James said the park’s outing attracted people who used to live in Pullman as well as those who had never lived in the neighborhood and were curious about its history.

James said it’s always been interesting to see how former neighbors are surprised at how the area has changed since they moved out of Pullman as children.

“The main thing they will say is that my grandfather was a porter in Pullman, or he worked in the factory, or my uncle was a waiter at the hotel when the hotel was the restaurant.” They’ll have these stories about how they used to come here for brunch…” James said.

James said she hopes people will remember Pullman Garden Walks’ past and come to support this year’s edition.

“We always have a little bit of stress about it,” James said. “But of course, the main reason we do that is to try to bring the community together and share ideas with each other and kind of solidify those bonds. So whether people come in or not, it’s still a great event.

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Front yards like these will be available for a tour during the annual Historic Garden Walk: The Bees and the Birds on June 25.
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The Pullman Garden Historic Club is hosting its annual park walk this year for the first time since before the pandemic.

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