Bloomin’ Bucks

Brent and Becky’s & Keeler Gardens

Keeler Gardens is officially part of the Bloomin’ Bucks fundraiser at Brent and Becky’s.

This is a where GG, our lead horticultural specialist, orders many of the bulbs for Keeler Gardens. If you place your bulb order through this link and choose Keeler Gardens, NFP from the list…

25% of the sale is donated to Keeler Gardens!

This is an excellent opportunity to help support our community programs!

Please help us spread the word by sharing this information with your friends and family. You can even download a flyer here to help spread the news.

If you have any questions feel free to email me at

Photos From the April Instameet

Taking Pictures in the Rain

(Press Play if you would like a little music while you read)

After a week of unseasonably warm, Chicago, April weather, Mother Nature delivered a traditional April day: rainy and cold. But that did not stop the photographers.

Taking pictures, drinking tea, more pictures, and loosing feeling in our trigger fingers! And even a few tours of the gardens for our new visitors. Was it worth it? We think so, but decide for yourself. Take a look at some of the pictures.


Here are a few from our @KeelerGardens Instagram account

First pic of today’s Instameet. #smokebush #keelergardens #connectwithnature

A post shared by Keeler Gardens (@keelergardens) on

#lamium from the front garden. #keelergardens #connectwithnature

A post shared by Keeler Gardens (@keelergardens) on

Working hard while we play. #keelergardens #peonies #ants

A post shared by Keeler Gardens (@keelergardens) on

And one from my personal account @xperientialed.

Enjoying the great weather at the #keelergardens instameet. #hellebore #connectwithnature

A post shared by Ed Caplan (@xperientialed) on

Plus here are a few from one of our guests.

And for you, our loyal readers, here are a few that we did not post anywhere else.


We had so much fun we will have to do this again.  Based on so many conversations about cameras, technique, and even some technical details we are tweaking the program a little. Make sure you sign up for our newsletter and follow us on Facebook to be the first to know about the next Photo Day at Keeler Gardens.

Thanks for connecting,



Our First Programs at Keeler Gardens.

Spring is Springing

(Press Play if you would like a little spring music while you read)

Are you enjoying this wonderful spring weather? We are, and so are the tulips and other spring bloomers. Flowers are not the only thing in bloom, we are preparing for our first programs here at Keeler Gardens.

Close up of about two dozen Stresa tulip yellow tulips with brushes of pink on the outside of each petal. In the foreground to the is the base
‘Stresa”tulips bloom in the back garden.

Instameet, Sunday, April 30 at 1:30 PM

We are excited that as we welcome the warm weather we have our first two Keeler Gardens program offerings. The first is the Instameet day at Keeler Gardens. What is an Instameet? Instameets are group get-togethers to take pictures to post on Instagram. Although we are using this term, we will do much more. At 1:30 PM on Sunday, April 30th we invite you to come out and take pictures at Keeler Gardens. You don’t have to use a mobile phone, nor do you have to post your pictures on Instagram. Just spending a half hour taking pictures of the garden is a wonderful way to connect with nature. If you so choose, you can share or post your images online. We hope you do, so we can all enjoy your pics. We will be using the hashtag, #KeelerGardens so we can all view the photos during and after the event.

Our executive director, Ed Caplan, stands in a rain coat with smart phone in hand capturing the bright yellow forsythia on the front deck of Keeler Gardens. The cloudy rainy day creates a wonderful environmental contrast for the photo.
Ed connecting with nature.

All levels of photographers are welcome. If you have questions, big or small, about your camera or taking photos come early at 1:00 PM and we’ll be happy to walk through the basics and answer any questions. Let us know you’re planning on coming by RSVP’ing through the Facebook Event Page.

Family Event at Fannie’s, Sunday, May 7 at 4:00 PM

Logo for Fannie's

Fannie’s is a wonderful café in Jefferson Park. The owner, Stephanie, has offered her space for a family day just in time to prepare for Mother’s Day (hint, hint dads!). Make sure to follow the event on our Facebook page here for all the details. What we can tell you right now is it involves seeds and journals. (We’ve said too much!).

Scrapbooking accessories and accoutrements including small and large quotes such as “Cats speak language with their tails.” “Come forth into the light of things let NATURE be your teacher.” The background has various textured papers from watercolor to repeating prints. There are also small trinkets such as butterflies, flowers, and stars.
Various ways to adorn your garden journal

Project WILD

Recently I was certified as a trainer of Growing Up WILD, Aquatic WILD, and Project WILD. These are environmental education curriculum for youth of all ages. From early childhood through elementary and high school, the programs are written to be age specific, with educational learning standards in mind. Upon the completion of this training Keeler Gardens can officially train teachers and other community members on this program.  Make sure to follow us on Facebook and sign up for What’s Growing on, our mailing list, so you are the first to know when we set the date this summer for the Project WILD training.

Two adults sit on a bench in a display garden with three children. The man works with a boy and girl of 5 and 6 years old. The women with her camera keeps an eye on the 3 year old who is more interested in climbing the bench.
Connecting children to nature.

Thank you again for all of your support. Keeler Gardens is here to help you and the rest of our community connect with nature. Thank you for spreading the word by sharing this update and our other posts. Click on these links to let us know if we will be seeing you here at Keeler Gardens on April 30th for the Instameet, at Fannie’s on May 7th for the Family Event, or click here to sign up for What’s Growing on for updates on the Project Wild Training.

Thanks for connecting,

The Evolution of a Garden Featuring Keeler Gardens

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Keeler Gardens was fortunate to be the feature of a discussion on the transformation of a city space into an urban oasis. The presentation was almost an hour long and included some wonderful before and after imagery, along with some of the why’s and how’s of the garden’s evolution.  Today we have for you the audio track of that presentation and a link to the actual “slide show”, so if you wanted to follow along you can.  We will update this post once we have synchronized the audio and slide show.

If you would just like to listen we included here in the post a few of the images from the presentation to give you some of the visuals.

Very soon we will be adding a page to our website that will take you through the transformation, image by image, a permanent addition to our website that can be enjoyed for the experiences, and as a continued view into how Keeler Gardens grows every season.

Live(ish) From the 2017 Chicago Flower & Garden Show

Old 110 photo that has been partially bleached away of a man sitting on an orange couch next to a dog. The man's head did not make it into the picture but the black dog looks great.

Mobile Photography in Your Garden

A student reviews the apps on her smart phone during a session on mobile photography. She appears to be eager to learn as her friend clasps her phone with some apprehension.
We all have cameras in our pockets. Do we know how to use them?

This past Monday I had the chance to present on this topic on the Gardening Live Stage at the Chicago Flower and Garden Show.  The full video is below for those of you who were not able to join us.  The goal of the session was to help more people find a meaningful way to connect with nature.

One way that I connect with nature is through photography.  I have been doing so since I got my first 110 camera when I was five years old.  Very quickly I learned I was better at taking pictures of nature than people, although I did have a lot to learn.

Old 110 photo that has been partially bleached away of a man sitting on an orange couch next to a dog. The man's head did not make it into the picture but the black dog looks great.
Luckily Ed got better as a photographer.

Fast forward to today and we all have portable cameras in our pockets.  What better way to stop and connect with nature than to take a picture.  And not just snap a quick photo, but to stop, enjoy what we are experiencing, and then take a picture.

During the session I broke it down into simple steps to help us take photos we can be proud of and want to share with others.  Some of the tips were:

  • Rule of thirds (don’t center the subject)
  • Use your camera’s grid
  • Keep camera in Auto mode, then switch to HDR

What’s Next? Instameet @ Keeler Gardens

Put your skills to use, meet with other photographers, and learn.  Whether you have your smart phone, a DSLR, or an old 35mm camera, all are welcome.  We will meet at Keeler Gardens at 1:30 PM on April 30th.  If you need some help, come early at 1:00 PM and we can get you ready for the day.  For more information and to RSVP head over to our Facebook Event Page.  (If you don’t have Facebook, you can always send me an email for more details).

In my wilderness work there was a common phrase, “Take only pictures, leave only footprints.”  Show us your pictures by using the hashtag #KeelerGardens so we can see your awesome pics on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.

Keeler Gardens at the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival

If you are following us on Facebook you already know that we are visiting the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival.

As of this blog post we have reported from the following gardens:

We still have a few more gardens we will report from so make sure you are following us on Facebook and in the upcoming weeks we will put all of the videos together on YouTube into a nice playlist to have the whole week in one place. Make sure you subscribe to our newsletter so you will be the first to know when they are posted.

In addition, make sure you are following us on Instagram as we are highlighting different topiaries each day from around the festival. In the upcoming weeks we will add the photos to a gallery here on our website.

You can watch the Facebook Live videos on our Facebook Page and let us know if there are any other gardens you would like to see.

One last note, the Chicago Flower and Garden show is coming up soon. I, Ed, will be presenting at 2pm on Monday, March 20th on Mobile Photography in Your Garden, and we will also be presenting at 5:00pm on Friday, March 24th on the evolution of Keeler Gardens. We hope to see you there. Make sure to come up and say hello.

Giving Tuesday-#ILGive 2016

Checklist for the first holiday weekend ending with Giving Tuesday

We are pleased to announce that Keeler Gardens will be participating in Giving Tuesday this year. As a new nonprofit we need all the support we can muster to be able to provide the community with resources. You can donate right now at or see our sponsorship information on our Support page. Every donation will make a difference in helping us spread the word and benefits of biophilia.

Checklist for the first holiday weekend ending with Giving Tuesday
Please support Keeler Gardens

In addition to monetary donations, we would like to use this opportunity to invite you to support our community in other ways. Time is a huge resource, we can certainly use volunteers. We are in need of an accountant, grant writer, and participants for our programs, we would be so pleased to have you participate.

How can we help you incorporate nature into your space?

Let us know and we can develop a free program around your need. Whether it is for you, as an individual, your family, or a group (garden club, class, or friends) we want to share with the community.

Don’t want to wait till Tuesday? You can follow us right now!

Finally, please share this post with all of your friends and family that are interested in incorporating nature into their space.

We look forward to spending Giving Tuesday with you!

Press Release – Announcing Keeler Gardens, NFP


The following is our official press release.  You can download the PDF copy here or contact Ed if you would like an editable version.


Keeler Gardens
3631 N. Keeler Ave
Chicago, IL 60641

Contact: Edward Caplan, Executive Director – (773) 206-6072

Announcing Keeler Gardens a New Non-Profit Educating on Biophilia in Old Irving Park

Old Irving Park, Chicago, IL 11/21/16 – Ed Caplan, 16 year resident of Old Irving Park, is pleased to announce a new community resource, Keeler Gardens.  After 10 years, Keeler Gardens is now formally offering programs and education on biophilia and how our local environment can better our well-being, free of charge to the Old Irving Park community.

“Biophilia is our innate desire to connect with the natural world, and that connection offers something so special and important,” states Caplan, Executive Director of Keeler Gardens. “When we nurture this connection we see rejuvenation and increased attention, less fatigue and stress, increased productivity, and enhanced healing.  Even childhood diagnoses are reduced.”

Whether you want to get your hands dirty, review research, or just enjoy a stunning view, you will find all of that at Keeler Gardens.

Visit for more information about upcoming programs and to receive the free Keeler Gardens newsletter.  Also, find Keeler Gardens on most social media platforms via @KeelerGardens.

About Keeler Gardens:

Keeler Gardens is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in the Old Irving Park Community.  Keeler Gardens will be participating in this year’s Giving Tuesday event on November 29th through the #ILGive campaign and will be at the St. Viator Mistletoe Market on Friday December 2nd.

The Executive Director of Keeler Gardens, Ed Caplan, is available for interviews and questions regarding biophilia community resources.

Contact: Ed Caplan, MSW
Executive Director
Keeler Gardens, NFP
(773) 206-6072

Good Luck Gina!

Gina Iliopoulos is the new host of GreenMark Pr's new on line news show. Here we see her enjoying a cup of tea at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort. The GreenMark Squiggle is in the upper right hand corner letting us know it is official.

Gina To Host Live Green News Show!

Gina Iliopoulos is the new host of GreenMark Pr's new on line news show. Here we see her enjoying a cup of tea at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort. The GreenMark Squiggle is in the upper right hand corner letting us know it is official.

We are going to see our very own Gina Iliopoulos (GG), a lot more now, just not here on  We wish her the best of luck in her new venture as host of GreenMark PR’s LIVE news show.  Don’t worry, you’ll still see her around in the garden.

You can now find Keeler Gardens on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as @keelergardens.

You can now follow Gina personally on Facebook and Twitter (@Gina_Iliopoulos).  Her first broadcast is August 18th on the Firetalk platform.  Here is the link to the channel:  You can watch via this link and if you want to comment and participate make sure to log in.

By the way I’m Ed (xperientialEd) and I will be taking over the reigns of the website and social media.   Make sure to follow Keeler Gardens on your platform of choice and leave a comment below wishing Gina to “Break a Leg!”