Spirited Gardeners Stewardship: A Philosophy of Cultivating Harmony

As Spirited Gardeners, we believe gardens are more than just plots of land; they are vibrant canvases where nature, humanity, and spirit intertwine. Our philosophy is rooted in cultivating harmonious relationships – between ourselves and the earth, between homeowner and gardener, and within the delicate dance of our local ecology.

We envision gardens as little havens of nature's best hope, where we nurture not just plants, but vibrant ecosystems teeming with life. We champion native species, the building blocks of healthy habitats, and encourage responsible practices.

Our guiding principles go beyond mere service; we are stewards of the natural world, fostering gratitude and appreciation for the gift of life. We begin with a collaborative conversation, listening intently to your vision and gently guiding you towards practices that nurture your garden's soul and align with the needs of the larger ecosystem.

We think of each client as a walk down a path and not just product and services. We believe in relationships, not transactions. Our gardeners are not simply hired hands; they are skilled partners, each with their own unique talents and knowledge. We cultivate open communication and clear expectations to ensure harmony and mutual respect.

Ultimately, Spirited Gardeners Stewardship is about cultivating a deeper connection to the spirit of nature. It's about maintaining gardens that are not just beautiful, but also resilient, sustainable, and alive with the hum of pollinators and the whisper of wind through leaves. It's about tending to the earth with love, and in doing so, tending to the well-being of ourselves and our communities.

Join us in this journey with spirited stewardship. Let's maintain gardens that bloom not just with flowers, but with hope, connection, and a shared reverence for the magic of life.

History of The Spirited Gardener

Julia BunnOwner of Spirited Gardener, Inc., Julia Bunn, is passionate about affirming the benefits of sustainable landscaping. After over 15 years of building landscapes that often include rain gardens in the Chicago area, her company has grown but still focuses on consultations, design, install and project management. Julia truly enjoys teaching others how to responsibly manage their properties while creating beautiful gardens that can be enjoyed by homeowners and our native wildlife and manage rainwater beautifully.

While working with Moore Landscapes on the City of Chicago Park District's Annual Floral Contract as a Landscape Designer, Julia expanded her abilities to work with AutoCAD drawings and large-scale annual installations. Now she is bringing those skills back to her company that focuses on encouraging clients to seek a 70% regionally relevant plant palette in their landscapes to increase healthier pollinator and bird populations, and a truly living landscape. She seeks to assist clients in understanding why minimal chemical and pesticide usage in the home landscape is so important to minimizing damage to the environments she builds with clients.

The Spirited Gardener keeps up to date with resilient design concepts through participation in classes and talks with West Cook Wild Ones, Ecological Landscape Alliance and participating in field studies like 2018 Woodlands Field Seminars that the Conservation Design Forum held based on Flora of the Chicago Region: A Floristic and Ecological Synthesis.  This was lead by Gerould Wilhelm co-author of the book. Additionally she has taken Plant ID Training with The Pizzo Group, and attends the ILCA's Annual Impact Conference: Building Sustainable Landscapes each year at the Chicago Botanic Gardens, which adopted the now defunct MELA's mission (Midwest Ecological Landscaping Alliance - Member from 2008 -2015).

In February 2023, Julia presented live at the regional Wild Things Conference on Bringing the Savanna Home refining a talk she did online for West Cook Wild Ones with a similar title in 2022.

An active member of ELA (Ecological Landscape Alliance), Julia has published an ELA article called Deluge and Drought: A Landscape Designed for Rainwater Mangement which documented the ongoing LEED Platinum Project she has participated in this year.

In 2006 she became a member of the LDA (Landscape Design Association) serving as President in 2015 (Now a defunct organization - closing in 2018 to become a part of the Illinois Contractor's Association)), and as an active participant in professional development programs as well as presenter on Eco-functional Designs at the groups Design Workshops.  Through this group she participated in workshops with Rick Darke (The Living Landscape: Designing for beauty and biodiversity in the home garden) and Darrel Morrison (Landscape Architect, and distinguished native landscape designer and educator and long time Wild Ones Honorary Director) She is a proponent of organic methods of pest control and amendments for soils and plants including Natural Lawn Care techniques. Her knowledge base is also expanding through classes at the Chicago Botanic Garden Professional Development Program from which she earned the Ornamental Plant Certificate in 2007 and has taken many of the Garden Design classes.

Julia is a graduate of the University of Colorado, Bouler, with a Bachelor's in Fine Arts, has taken classes at the university including Ornithology and a graduate class in Ecological Environments of the South West. This perspective has informed her vision as an artist and plant enthusiast ever since.

Julia studied Chinese herbs at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine. She also completed "Living with Herbs", an eight-month training program where she learned Western herbal traditions and growing techniques. This perspective assists clients interested in creating gardens with meaning.

Julia at MortonIn 1995, Julia became a Master Gardener through the University of Illinois Extension Service. Her love of working cooperatively with others and her first hand knowledge of growing in the garden has evolved from working on school gardens and community spaces (NeighborSpace and LaSalle Language Academy) to working professionally as a landscape designer. She has been featured in the Chicago Tribune's Home & Garden section as a great gift idea for the holidays.

The Spirited Gardener: Television Promo

This is the promo video for the TV show Julia produced in 2008. This aired on Chicago's WTTW and has since produced several videos for YouTube on why to garden.

The Spirited Gardener: Is your garden for the birds?

This piece embodies a talk from Douglas W. Tallamy, author of Bringing Nature Home: How Native Plants Sustain Wildlife in Our Gardens.

The Spirited Gardener: IDNR Design Charette

This piece is a summary of a Sustainable Landscaping Brainstorming session that Julia participated in at the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

Sustainable Solutions Blog

Julia has also published the following articles which you can enjoy by clicking on the links below.

Hope you enjoy the pieces and that they inspire you to consider planting more natives as you grow your garden!