This year’s quilt garden supports McHenry-based Home of the Sparrow, a group that helps homeless women and children.

Countryside Flower Shop Plants a Pattern of Success

For more than 15 years, this Crystal Lake nursery has done its part to give back to the community, with a colorful display. Take a look at this year’s “garden quilt” and how it’s impacting a nonprofit group.

This year’s quilt garden supports McHenry-based Home of the Sparrow, a group that helps homeless women and children.
This year’s quilt garden supports McHenry-based Home of the Sparrow, a group that helps homeless women and children.

Since it opened in 1960, Countryside Flower Shop, Nursery and Garden Center, 5301 E. Terra Cotta Ave., in Crystal Lake, has been giving back to its community. Four years ago the colorful nursery devised a new way to help local nonprofit organizations.

A new “quilt garden,” planted in the nursery’s side yard, depicts a select organization’s logo, using a variety of colorful flowers. The display changes each year and is planted around the end of June, remaining on display through fall.

“The hardest part is getting the pattern down,” says Marcy Cronin, marketing director. “Trying to get that shape is difficult. In 2013, we made the pattern a patriotic tribute. At that show, veterans were honored with Quilts of Valor.”

This year’s featured nonprofit is Home of the Sparrow, a McHenry-based organization that provides support to homeless women and children in northern Illinois. Each year, Home of the Sparrow serves 800 people through its transitional shelter, affordable housing, outreach and prevention program, case management, supportive services and six thrift stores.

This year’s quilt garden is made from a combination of petunias and alyssum, arranged in the shape of a white sparrow set against a purple backdrop.

The garden helps to raise funds for the featured nonprofit during Countryside’s annual quilt show, which has happened for 16 years, typically on the third weekend of September. On Sunday that weekend, members of the local Sunburst Corvette Club put their prized cars on display around the quilt garden. There is no charge to view the Corvettes.

“You can purchase tickets to vote for your favorite car; both the favorite car and a winning ticket will win a fall planter,” says Cronin. Proceeds from ticket sales benefit Home of the Sparrow.

“Events like this bring much-needed community awareness for Home of the Sparrow and the programs and services that we provide,” says Debbie DeGraw, the group’s vice president of marketing and development. “Budgets are tight and every penny counts. Fundraising like this makes a difference.”

The annual quilt show draws area quilters who display more than 100 of their works around the Countryside greenhouses.

“People bring quilts that maybe they’ve had tucked away in a closet or cedar chest for years,” says Cronin. “It’s a chance for them to show off their hard work. They treat them as treasures.”

The idea for the Quilt Garden was hatched in 2011, when many quilt shops, fabric stores, quilters, farms and businesses joined with the McHenry County Historical Society to host the Northern Illinois Quilt Fest. The event drew visitors into shop hops, self-guided tours of area barn quilts, and stores and businesses that displayed handmade quilts. Countryside participated by designing a barn quilt and a matching 36-foot square garden – the same plot where this year’s quilt is displayed.

Already looking toward next year’s show, Countryside has designated the Alexander Leigh Center for Autism as its next subject.

“It’s an opportunity to come out and look at some beautiful works of art and help a worthwhile organization at the same time,” says Cronin.