Danada Visitor Gardens
Discussions and interest in creating a formal garden at Danada began when the preserve was first acquired. Dan and Ada Rice, the once proud owners of the Danada Farm, had meticulously cared for their estate grounds and stables with the help of a large staff, that included gardeners, horse groomers, equestrian trainers and other support staff. The Rice’s had an affinity for landscaping as well. Each spring their house was a splash of color with mums, peonies, roses and other flowers. The estate had a formal allee, large swimming pool, flower planters, fountain, and several patios and terraces on the west side of the house for entertaining. There was a formal courtyard located at the front of the home, which included ornamental fencing, stone columns and juniper hedges. In keeping with the previous landscape, the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County has always maintained formal floral displays in the allee to provide photo opportunities for those who reserve the house or atrium for wedding events.
In 2006, the Office of Planning began in-house design on the new gardens. Important goals of the project were to promote sustainability by restoring the natural landscape character of the site, utilize low maintenance and renewable materials and create a native plant demonstration garden, while utilizing best management practices for stormwater management throughout the gardens.
Conceptual Plans were finalized during the summer of 2006 and final construction plans were submitted for permitting in 2008. Site preparation activities occurred using District in-house crews during the fall of 2008, and the project was released for bidding during the spring of 2009. A construction contract was awarded to PHN Construction of Wheaton, IL, in June of 2009.
The Danada Visitor Gardens project will enhance the grounds around the Danada House, promoting sustainability, which is highlighted by the permeable paver roadway and parking area; permeable synthetic turf in the west garden; recycled composite fencing; rain water harvesting cistern; rain gardens; and a planted green retaining wall. In addition, woodland, wetland and prairie areas will be improved and include interpretive signage and benches for wildlife viewing. Other elements of the project include brick paving, decking, lighting, fountain and water features, garden arbor and pergola, signage, benches and many new garden areas. The unifying theme of the gardens focuses on Danada’s rich equestrian history.
The District allocated 1.4 million dollars for the preserve improvements, including $800,000 from Bond Referendum Funds and another $600,000 through six different Capital Improvement Projects in the Construction and Development Fund. The Friends of Danada made a generous contribution for several site amenities. In addition, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources awarded the District a $400,000 OSLAD Grant for the project. Total project costs amount to 1.8 million dollars for construction improvements.
Construction is currently underway and is anticipated to be fully complete by June 1, 2010.