Now is the Time to Enter Chicago Excellence in Gardening Awards Contest

It took awhile for spring to get its act together in the Midwest, but plants have a way of making up for lost time. With any luck, the colder than usual spring is long forgotten as Chicagoans watch their gardens catch up to the weather. Gardeners now have a few short weeks in which to finish planting this season’s annuals and vegetables, tidy up the perennial beds, take a few photos and enter the second annual Chicago Excellence in Gardening Awards (CEGA).

June 20 is the deadline for entering the 2018 version of CEGA, Chicago’s only citywide gardening honors. They are free, open to the public and recognize the hard work and creativity that make the city a healthier, more beautiful and more sustainable place. Last year, nearly 50 gardens representing 26 Chicago wards were recognized in a late summer awards ceremony at the Chicago Cultural Center. With one year under their belts, the CEGA organizers are looking toward a bigger and more competitive contest this year.

Most types of garden are eligible—vegetable, ornamental, container, specialized gardens (including green roof or wall, enabling or rain gardens, for example), community gardens, and new this year, urban farms (for profit and not for profit).

Garden caretakers can come from a variety categories, including residential, small (up to four units); residential, large (five units and over); schools; other organizations (business, church, fire department, etc.); community; and urban farm.

Chicago Excellence in Gardening Awards is presented by Advocates for Urban Agriculture, Chicago Community Gardeners Association, Chicago Flower & Garden Show, Chicagoland Gardening, Chicago Park District, Forest Preserve District of Cook County, GreenMark Public Relations, Natural Awakenings Chicago magazine, Shedd Aquarium, The Mike Nowak Show and University of Illinois Extension: Cook County.

 The contest is open to residents of the city of Chicago. Only one entry per garden will be accepted. Submit online by June 20. Mailed entry forms must be postmarked by June 15. Judging will begin in July. Winners will be notified by late summer, with awards to be presented in a ceremony on October 13. There is no entry fee. To enter online, go to

For gardener and garden profiles, information and much more, visit CEGA online at and follow the awards as the season progresses on Facebook at For more information, contact or



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