The expansive and beautiful gardens belonging to Jim and Theresa Flamini will once again be the site of their annual fundraising event to benefit the family’s Flamini Foundation whose mission is “based on the belief that sick children and their families should be blessed with all of the happiness that we can offer.”
In previous years, the Flaminis have hosted their garden event during the day (last year Ronald McDonald made an appearance), but this year’s event, "Wishing you Well" takes visitors through the magnificent grounds at the family home on Golden Pond in St. John in the evening.
“We have over 20 vendors lined up who will be attending as well as Dan Patrevito, a musician and artist who will not only perform but also display his artwork,” said Theresa Flamini who grew the foundation into a powerhouse nonprofit after one Christmas when the family decided not to buy each other presents but instead bought gifts for every child hospitalized over the holidays at Comer Children’s Hospital at the University of Chicago.
This “Flamini Family Tradition” now is a year round provider of gifts and has expanded with presents being delivered to children’s hospitals and necessary articles such as toiletries like toothpaste, shampoo and deodorant as well as books, games and, sometimes, even home cooked meals to organizations providing affordable overnight stays to the families of hospitalized youngsters. The proceeds from last year’s garden event went towards fulfilling the wish list of 10 hospitals including the recently opened Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago with items such as a puppet theater, giant dollhouse, train table and craft items.
For garden lovers, the lush landscaping surrounding the Flamini home is a wonderland of delight. Outdoor areas are designed as vignettes of stones, arts and rare plants including many tropicals are part of the elaborate design and stunning visual of textures, colors, patterns, layers and heights.
“This year, like every year, we plant hundreds and hundreds of annuals and change the garden containers so there are different flowers and plants,” said Flamini.
The grounds also have over a thousand perennials planted as well as such tropical plants such as the rapid palms surrounding three three waterfalls, bougainvilleas, hibiscus and mandevillas. Also showcased in the garden are Golden Dewdrop Lilac with their fragrant white or pale blue flowers and orange-yellow berries, vividly colored Gingko trees and Japanese Maple trees, which are known for their attractive leaves and colors as well as masses of brilliantly hued roses, pergolas, garden art, stone work and terracing.
The title for this year’s event comes from the wishing well made and donated by Ed and Gloria Cote of Whiting who Flamini describes as big supporters of the foundation.
“We will place a table with note cards next to the wishing well,” said Flamini, noting that Hallmark gave her a discount on the cards. “Guests can write a note of joy to a family staying at the Ronald McDonald Houses in the Chicago land area. Mardelle Gundlach, the director of the house near Comer Children’s Hospital, will distribute the cards to the Ronald McDonald Houses for us."
Vendors at the event included the Green Goddess, a full service personal chef who caters parties and events, will be on hand to sell her homemade goodies such as biscotti. Alsip Gardens will again have plants for sale as well as solar lighting and Aged2Perfection will be offering wines and specialty beers for tastings with bottles available for sale. Other vendor wares include jewelry, kitchen supplies, girl’s bows and lawn décor.
“At the end of the evening we will have Luminary Launch to honor loved ones that have passed and special people in our lives that are ill,” said Flamini. “The gardens look so pretty at night.”