A visit to the post office has become a feast for the senses of Naperville residents, thanks to the tireless efforts of volunteers Carolyn Finzer and Jan Gricus, both of whom are members of The Conservation Foundation and very active in our Conservation@Home program. These two devoted and resourceful ladies took the front landscaping of the main Naperville Post Office an eyesore to a living work of art, as beautiful as it is functional, over 5 years of creative toil.
In 2009, the barren “abandoned” sloping earthen gardens were full of Canada Thistles, chewing gum, cigarette butts, fast food wrappers, and plastic bag debris…an unsightly and visually depressing mess! The area needed what Carolyn refers to as some “ER- Environmental Rejuvenation.” With the help of some other hearty Garden Club members, Carolyn and Jan eradicated the thistle by hand. To eliminate the rivers of mud that would wash across the front walk and into the postal lobby after heavy rains, Carolyn herself visited over 20 construction sites in Naperville to rescue over 800 native rocks in her PT Cruiser. These rocks were used in the project to stabilize the sloping gardens and prevent further erosion.
Then the planting began. Virtually all of the native plants brought to the gardens were free; some were refugees from the prairies surrounding Naperville North High School’s parking lot expansion project, while others came from the personal perennial gardens of kindhearted postal patrons. Several local garden centers donated plant material as well.
With rocks and plants now anchoring the landscape, the true artistry of Jan and Carolyn could come to life. In addition to the water-conserving and colorful perennials, the garden boasts bird feeding and watering stations, colorful glass bottle suncatchers, plates that catch rainwater for butterflies to sip, hollow bamboo shafts to attract miner bees, and all manner of quirky items recycled as art.
The gardens are teeming with life as finches feast on dried seed heads, toads huddle under rock ledges, Canadian geese build their nests and the occasional red-tailed hawk enjoys a rabbit lunch. With no budget, Carolyn, Jan and their helpers truly brought life back to a barren wasteland. The Naperville Post Office gardens have earned Conservation@Work certification through our program that recognizes business landscapes that conserve water and create habitat.
Those who know Carolyn Finzer know she is in and of herself a living work of art who brings so much color to the Naperville community. Stop by the post office to see her latest brilliant and heartfelt creation.
Written by Jill Johnson with contributions by Carolyn Finzer