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This Lemont House Has a Botanical Garden For Its Backyard

This nearly-seven-acre landscape in Lemont, for sale for $895,000, is a tour de force for lovers of plants, ponds, and al fresco dining; the house isn’t too shabby either.

Peeking through dense plantings to the central Koi pond.   Photo: Ian Spula

Price: $895,000

The southwestern suburb of Lemont is very far from the Chicago Botanic Garden. There’s a ton of Forest Preserve nearby but if your hankering is for spectacular manmade gardens, you’d better get some acreage and a good landscaper. Or, consider snagging a one-of-a-kind work already competed and on the market.

The seller of today’s six-bedroom, 3,300-square-foot house and 6.8 attached acres arrived in 2000 and immediately put his professional landscaping resources to work in sculpting a private botanical garden laced with wide grass tracks. According to the seller, it was a ho-hum suburban yard with a lot of driveway prior to the radical reshaping. Flowers, ferns, corn, and lawn are the new building blocks but there’s also a large goldfish pond with a waterfall and mood music on a loop; an outdoor banquet seating beneath a ring of trees; a field; a greenhouse; a promenade; and a sunken patio. Sprinkled throughout are Italy-centric decorative items: clay pots, stone busts, and titanic stone tables.

Another amazing landscaping decision was the building of up-and-down planes into a steady down slope. This part of Chicagoland is naturally hilly (relative to the level prairie everywhere else), but this property takes it to another level. On a clear day—which I didn’t have for my visit—you can glimpse small hills across a valley, further transporting this place to another region of the country or world.

It’s rare that I tackle a property’s grounds before the house but in this case they overwhelm the house to such a degree. Ivy and other clingy plants tame the 1957 structure and smooth the transition from outdoors to indoors. Large windows and a garage that’s been rebranded a formal dining room with a window wall to the outdoor banquet area render this low, flat house part of the landscape.

There’s no true disconnect between the linear bungalow and the plush, meandering landscape, though one may be imagined by the average buyer. To some eyes, the exactness of these gardens, ponds, and lawns begs a classical edifice at the helm. Another line of thinking, and probably most common, is that at this price people are more inclined toward a larger, more predictable McMansion on a far smaller lot. The tax burdens are similar ($12,336 in this case), but so much is embedded in land at today’s featured property.

Price points: The home first listed for sale in July 2013 for $995,900 and by April 2014 the price had landed at $895,000. Interest has been touch and go, but is picking up with the newest re-listing. “Considering the amount of acreage, we feel well positioned in the marketplace,” says listing agent Jim Kramer of KoenigRubloff. The seller is looking to downsize within Lemont, where he’s spent most of his life.

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