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Resident has green thumb, big heart

Published: Monday, July 22, 2013 5:57 p.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, July 23, 2013 12:52 p.m. CDT
(Lorae Mundt - lmundt@shawmedia.com)
Susan Capistran, of Berwyn, waters the plants at the Harlem Avenue Depot on Thursday, July 18th. Capistrin planted and tends to the organic garden at the Harlem Avenue Depot on her own time and expense.

BERWYN – Berwyn resident Susan Capistran has a green thumb, a big heart and a shortage of fresh canvas on which to exercise her garden artistry.

So, she found a new canvas – at the Uno Cafe, located in the Harlem Avenue Metra Station on Windsor Avenue.

For three years now the avid gardener has taken it upon herself to dress up the grounds at the train station with her own plants, cutting from her yard and a lot of sweat equity.

“Like any gardener, you get though with your own garden, it becomes mature at some point,” Capistran said. “You have no more canvas. Part of it is to be a good Berwyn citizen.”

City Administrator Brian Pabst applauded Capistran’s volunteer spirit and hopes its infectious.

“We’re very pleased that citiizens periodically take it upon their own accord to keep the area beautified,” he said.

Capistran, who lives three block away fromt he station, said the area was looking glum after a new retaining wall was built along the Windsor Avenue side of the station, which was then the home of Harlem Espresso.

In March 2006, tragedy struck when an SUV crashed into the wall and came to rest in the station, killing Metra ticket agent Kathleen Talmage. Metra made repairs, but eliminated the manned ticket office. For four years the space remained vacant. Then came Harlem Espresso, but the business only lasted a year.

The brother and sister business team of Jimmy and Mary Ferraro later moved in with Uno Cafe, which remains open today.

Capistran made a deal with the Ferraro’s; she would provide the labor and everything else they needed to bring some new life to the cafe’s exterior. The Ferraro’s would provide her with the water needed to grow a garden and the palate to grow it in.

“It gives me a whole different canvas to work on,” Capistran said. “The nice thing about a second canvas – I could use my favorites here.

The plots are planted mostly with perennials, but there is also a mix of annuals and shrubs.

“I do like annuals,” she said. “About the only thing I get every year is the marigolds. I’m slowly reaching where I want it to be. I’m about 50 percent where I want to be.”

Capistran said she spends about $40 a year, mostly for marigolds.

When the cold weather comes, cleanup starts in October when she cuts back everything and readies the beds for next year.

Capistran said she plans to move things around a bit next year, but said, “No major surgery will be occurring.”

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