For the designer Marisa Gora of Kemora Landscape Designs, it's not enough for a garden or yard to be beautiful. It must also be functional, and it has to work with the natural environment it borders. It's no question that she holds her work to a high standard. But it's the way she surpasses even those standards that has earned her company awards from Angie's List, the Flower and Garden Show (which applauded Kemora's work on the American Girl Garden), and the Illinois Landscape Contractors Association.
Her business's mission to give beauty and function equal importance might have something to do with Marisa's background: she was pre-med at the University of Chicago when she decided to switch careers. Her love of drawing and previous work in landscape maintenance for the Wilmette Park District sparked the inspiration that eventually drew her to landscape design. After graduating and working in the industry, she founded Kemora, and today gives life to homeowners' design dreams.
Galway's private lessons focus on honing hunter- and jumper-style riding, which skirt western-style accessories such as spurs, saddle horns, and John Wayne bobbleheads. Aspiring equestrians aged 7 and up rehearse trots and lead changes across the 7,200-square-foot heated indoor arena, and an observation room and deck provide sweeping views of students' jumps and turns. Weather permitting, horses unleash longer strides on the 20,800-square-foot outdoor riding arena. Four full-time trainers conduct and observe every lesson, ensuring safety while safeguarding megaphones from any passing horse whisperers. After lessons, equine companions retire to one of 26 heated stalls in the barn, inviting lucky students to exclusive mucking parties. The stable leases lesson horses and offers boarding for current horse owners.
The bond between John and Lisa Jo White was built around a mutual love of horses. The pair met in 1990 at the National Show Horse Finals in Louisville, while Lisa Jo was coaching an equitation rider. Over the course of the next decade, they would get married, start their own stable, and garner national recognition showing arabian performance horses. Sadly, John passed away in 2009, but Lisa Jo carries on his legacy as the head trainer and operator of the year-round facility. Within her expansive indoor riding arena—outfitted with a heated wash rack, quarter-mile track, and viewing area—she trains all ages to become capable riders, knowledgeable with horsemanship, and confident enough to take their horse to the prom. In recognition of her success with students, the Arabian Horse Times has awarded Lisa Jo with its Reader’s Choice Instructor of the Year Award three years running.
A heated indoor riding arena and lighted outdoor arena form twin centerpieces for the 10 acres of sprawling farmland named Nova Quarter Horses. The contemporary digs host a spectrum of beginning to advanced riders for one-on-one instruction with the stable’s experienced on-staff riders. Each instructor welcomes riders into an encouraging, supportive environment for English or Western riding lessons, with the goal of instilling the confidence to continue on with training and the self-esteem to not casually accept a horse’s silent treatment. As such, each rider is encouraged to participate in the grooming, feeding, and saddling aspects of the sport—necessary skills for any serious rider. The outfit also leads recreational trail rides each Sunday across its expansive terrain, as well as a moonlight ride once every month.
Chalet stocks its 4.8-acre retail center with thousands of chlorophyll critters, including botanical buddies plucked from Chalet's own nursery in Salem, Wisconsin. When they're not giving plants rubdowns on the undersides of their leaves, more than 100 earthy retail employees (up to 350 seasonally) can help you pick out an African violet ($4) or a host of sprouting vegetables (starting at $3). Nab cache pots for $3 or a gurgling fountain for $40. Birdhouses made from recycled, century-old barns ($24) attract brightly fluttering worm-eaters, and a bag of soil laced with nutrients ($4) satisfies even the pickiest sprout. You can even get an outdoor chair ($99), a bag of dog food (starting at $14), and floral body lotions (starting at $9.75).