Julia Adams

SummerSweet Garden Design


Before she even knew that Lounge Ax, the legendary club she’d co-owned for a decade, would be closing for good, Julia Adams had embarked on her next career: garden design. With an old friend, Dianne Andrews, Adams had begun taking classes through the Joseph Regenstein, Jr. School of the Chicago Botanic Garden; both ended up earning certification in ornamental plant materials and garden design. “It was just for my own education, with no goal in mind,” says Adams. “Dianne was taking the classes with me and we just looked at each other one day and said, you know what, we could do this for other people. We were running out of places in our own yards to plant new things.” Adams’s own yard is a little city paradise, with a keen sense of texture and proportion and well thought out areas for eating and socializing.

They started SummerSweet in 2000, the same year Lounge Ax was pushed out of its longtime Lincoln Park home by its new landlord. Adams is also the “VP in charge of everything” at her husband’s business, Carrot Top, the record distributor that just opened the Saki record shop in Logan Square. So gardening is still technically a part-time gig, though work takes place throughout the year, be it planning, drawing, planting, or consulting. The women are booked up for this season, but Adams says that by the end of June they’ll be done with the big jobs and looking toward fall.