Garden Study Club member helps sale grow its impact

Keen to acclimatize to her new Golfview Hills surroundings after moving from Chicago, Eleanor Nadbielny signed up for a local garden tour.

"It seemed like almost all the ladies on the tour were from the Garden (Study) Club, and they didn't know who I was," related Nadbielny, who had unwittingly made herself a club recruitment target.

"I've been a member ever since," she said.

That was 10 years ago, and for most of that time Nadbielny has held an officer's post in the Hinsdale-based group, including terms as president and treasurer. She currently serves as co-chair of fundraising, which means she's closely involved in the Garden Study Club's annual plant sale coming up this Saturday, May 7, outside the Hinsdale History Museum (see Page 22 for details).

Last year during the pandemic, the sale relocated to the museum from its longstanding location in the Grant Square parking lot.

"It worked out very well - it could have been because we were still one the few clubs having a plant sale," Nadbielny said with a laugh.

The sale has a loyal following, she noted, thanks to reasonable prices and quality assurance, since the merchandise comes from members' own planting beds.

"The plants are tested for this climate," she stressed. "The ladies at the sale are all available to give advice and answer questions."

Growing up in New Jersey, Nadbielny recalled her father always keeping a vegetable garden and her grandmother sweetening visits with a bowl of homegrown raspberries. But horticulture did not establish roots in Nadbielny's heart as a youth.

"I didn't enjoy gardening," she said. "It was dirty, and I was a girl who didn't like to get her hands dirty."

Business school brought her to Chicago in 1981, and a career in the banking industry kept her here. Living in an urban high-rise stirred a desire to be closer to nature. When she married, she and her husband agreed to return to his home turf west of the city where they could enjoy a greener landscape. Having little need for typical newlyweds' registry items, the couple instead requested garden center gift certificates.

"I was able to get a flowering crabapple, which blooms right around the time of our anniversary in early May.

"We try to always have something blooming," Nadbielny continued, ticking off her yard's seasonal sequence of floral color. "You're standing in the kitchen, you look out the window and you get to see pretty things."

She especially looks forward to her Sweet Autumn Clematis after most of summer's blossoms have faded.

"It looks like a snowdrift. It's just like a whole white blanket of flowers come late August or September," Nadbielny said. "I try to have stuff that birds and bees like, too."

She also makes decorative garden art flowers out of recycled materials, which adorn her yard.

"My husband has a limit on how many we can have in our yard," she quipped.

She'll be happy to talk to visitors about her creations at the plant sale, proceeds from which support the club's community beautification efforts, like planting trees along the BNSF railway and maintaining the history museum's garden.

"We hope to sell all the plants," Nadbielny said.

- story by Ken Knutson,

photo by Jim Slonoff

Author Bio

Ken Knutson is associate editor of The Hinsdalean