Thursday, March 10, 2011

Spring Fever Cure--The Chicago Garden Show

What do you do when you have a bad case of spring fever--even though the snow is flying once again-- compounded by all the photos of spring blooms on posts from bloggers in warmer climes?  Why, jump into your car and head to Chicago, of course, for the annual Chicago Flower and Garden Show. This past weekend Beckie and I made our now-annual trek to the show, leaving on Saturday so we could do some shopping along the way and catch the early train Sunday morning into the city.  What made this year's trip extra special is that we had another traveling companion for the weekend--Lisa of Greenbow.  And on Sunday we met up with three other blogging friends, Linda, Diane, and Monica at the show itself.  Spring blooms and and garden friends to share them with--just what the doctor ordered for a spring fever cure-all!

The theme for this year's show is "The Sport of Gardening," and exhibitors interpreted this theme in many different ways from the obvious to the much more subtle tie-in to sports.

In case you missed the entrance sign, the display below made sure you understood the theme with a bust of one of Chicagoland's sports icons, Harry Caray.

This exhibit featured memorabilia from most of Chicago's professional sports teams.  The plantscape wasn't anything special, but this Cubs and Bears fan appreciated the nod to our favorite teams nonetheless.

Anyone for a game of croquet?  This year's croquet lawn seemed more suited to Gulliver in the land of Brobdingnag, and the giant balls of orchids more lovely than Alice's hedgehogs.

Another obvious salute to sports was in "One Goal, One Garden," which included a water feature resembling a hockey rink.  It looked difficult to walk through, so I think I missed many of the plantings here and instead checked them out through the unusual hockey stick fence.

Water features seemed to be very popular this year with ponds and waterfalls in several of the exhibits.

This pond even featured its own blooming island, which I thought was unique.

Of course, there were all kinds of fountains, too, including this very clever mushroom grouping.  As you can see, I wasn't the only one who thought this was clever as Monica and Lisa stop to admire it, too.

One pond featured not only large koi, but two turtles as well.  In fact, wildlife seemed to be as popular in many of the displays as the plants and hardscapes themselves.

At least two exhibits included a chicken coop complete with live chickens.  There was also a beehive next to one of the coops.

In the kids' corner, there were all kinds of activities sponsored by Chicago Master Gardeners, including a Bug Zoo.  A few of the "kids" in our group decided to display their fearlessness by holding a tarantula, cockroach, and a giant millipede.  There's a reason this photo is so blurry--no, Diane's hands weren't shaking, mine were as I took the photo.  I backed out of this area as quickly as possible after taking a few shots; thank goodness, the millipedes I sometimes find at home don't look like this, or I probably would give up gardening!

Much more to my liking was the raptor exhibit which featured this Barred Owl, along with an American Kestrel and a Great Horned Owl.  Isn't he beautiful?  This was part of a garden exhibit, but honestly I don't remember looking at the plants at all, as I jockeyed for position to get a closer look at these magnificent birds.

There were other exhibits as well that were more than just plants, including a fantastic collection of millinery in "Hats: Wise Women Speak."  This leafy creation would make a great gardening hat, don't you think?

More high fashion, this glowing hat seemed to catch everyone's eye.  There was a description for each hat, and this one's explained what created the glow, but I'm afraid I quickly forget technical explanations.  As unique as the hat is, it probably wouldn't be a good choice to wear to the theater . . . unless there's a way to turn it off:)

We also enjoyed the photography exhibit, where we were excited to find a few entries by our own Mr. McGregor's Daughter!  This was not her ribbon-winning photo, but all of her entries were prize-worthy, in my humble opinion.

Ah, but what about the plants, you say; after all, this is a show all about gardening.  While I didn't think there were as many elaborate displays as in past years nor as many different varieties of plants, still there was enough to get any gardener excited for the season to begin.  I've never had much luck with snapdragons, but these bicolor beauties (no label, unfortunately) might change my mind.

An exhibit showing possibilities for vertical gardening along with others on harvesting rainwater and using native plants for an environmentally friendly home garden were relevant examples for today's gardener.

Of the larger exhibits, my favorite was probably "Silent Poetry: The Confluence of Stone and Plants," which combined conifers from Rich's Foxwillow Pines with a variety of other plant material and sculptures from Zimbabwe.  I have no idea how this relates to the theme of sports, but no matter.  It was a beautiful combination of materials that reminded me of elements in Japanese and Chinese gardens.

But my favorite display of all was actually rather small and simple in comparison to the others. This mass planting of tulips was the "wow" factor I was looking for and made me wish I had planted 10 times the number of tulip bulbs I did last fall.

Notes have been made for new additions here this fall--I think these were created just for me:)

I also will definitely be ordering some 'Ad Rem Beauty' tulips for next year.  My camera could not capture the true color of these tulips, but they were shades of coral, peach, pink, and a hint of yellow all in one gorgeous bloom.  

L to R: Diane, Rose, Monica, Lisa, Beckie, and Linda

The afternoon at the Flower and Garden Show went all too quickly, and I realized afterward that I had missed a few parts of the show, probably because I was talking too much.  But the company of fellow bloggers was just as enjoyable as the show itself. 

  This is the third year that Beckie and I have attended, and we've come a long way since the first year when we got lost coming out of Millenium Station and wandered some strange back alleys trying to find Michigan Avenue.  Still, there is always something new to see and something new to learn.  Among the tips I learned this year:

1. The producers of this show consider even this humble blogger worthy of an official press pass. (Thanks, Linda, for helping us with this!)

2. Sundays are probably the busiest days for the show--go on a weekday, if you can.  Still, the crowds were not that bad.

3. Taxi fare from the train station to Navy Pier is actually very reasonable and certainly beats standing out on a windy, cold corner waiting for a bus for 30 minutes!

The Chicago show runs through this Sunday, so you still have time to attend.  If you can't make it this year and are within driving distance of Chicago, I would definitely make plans for next year's show.  It's the perfect respite from a long Midwest winter.

I realized as I was finishing this post that today is my third blogaversary!  It's been such a joy to share gardening experiences with all of you these past three years. Whether I've met you in person or just through our exchanges here in Blogland, it's been a delight to meet each and every one of you.  Thank you for visiting!


  1. It was such fun going to the show with you and Beckie. I like the way you took us through the displays in your post. I hope to be able to go again. I am glad you got a picture of some of Barbara's photos. I forgot to take any. Those tulips were the most exciting color-wise in the show. It would be nice to have such a swathe of color in spring.

  2. Well Happy Blogiversary! Wow! Where does the time go? I've so enjoyed talking with you over the blogs these past few years.

    Urgh on getting lost. Not fun. I wonder if a GPS would work? I just got one for Christmas and noticed it has walking routes on there. Really a neat gadget. The show looks real nice. I like their theme unlike Nashville's theme; which I didn't get with the gardens. The sports-I get it! The mallet and hockey sticks too cool. Congrats to Linda for winning an award too!

  3. Many congratulations on your third blogaversary Rose! I hope you have many more to come. It was my second last month but I forgot to mention it at the time.

    What a wonderful time you had with your blogland friends, definitely guaranteed to take your mind off the Winter weather :)

    So many goodies there to keep you occupied. I thought the blooming island was beautiful! I also loved the leaf hat and of course (like you) was particularly drawn to the Owl, what a beauty it was!

    Strangely, I have always found Snapdragons one of the easiest flowers to grow, my Mother always grew hers from seed so they have happy memories for me.

    The vertical gardening was interesting, I thought and of course the Tulips were just beautiful... as was the line up of blooms in the last photo :)

  4. I'm tempted to make the trip from St. Louis, but garden/flower shows always disappoint me. Too much "stuff" I'm not interested in, and not enough plants. I guess I'm expecting it to be more botanical garden and less "garden center display".

    Still, it does look very inviting...

  5. At last! A really useful purpose for all the hockey sticks in my basement that remained here when my boys left home. I do love that fence and could replicate it I think.

    Congrats our your third anniversary... I love your blog, so I hope it keeps going for a fourth year and more.

  6. Happy Blogaversary Rose!

    It was wonderful spending the day with you, Beckie, Lisa, Monica, and Diane. Having the opportunity to enjoy the company of other gardeners in person is one of the joys of blogging that wasn't anticipated when I first started.

    I'll be looking forward to seeing Rosalie blooming in your garden in the future. They must have made that tulip especially for you!

  7. Well Happy Anniversary! Three years is cause to celebrate.
    Love the theme of the show. My husband's father was a sports announcer in St. Louis and was schooled by Harry Caray.
    That hockey stick fence is cool. Good thing you got a photo of the tulips named for you.

  8. Congratulations on blogging for three years! That is no small feat!

    There are so many pictures that I liked but you know my favorite was the barred owl. I am reading Harry P and I adore Hedwig!

  9. Oh happy blogaversary Rose! Wonderful post about all the excitement at the pier - isn't it the most fun to go to these things with other garden people?

  10. Well Happy Blogaversary! Another year down and another to go in the garden world!

    The Chicago Garden Show is a great one! I have seen so much on the blogs this past week that I feel as though I have been there myself! This is one of the wonders of blogging. If you cannot be there, someone will show you all you need to see…

    We have those big centipedes in our garden and I find them fascinating. Some put off a cherry type scent I find neat…

  11. Congratulations on the Blogoversary! I'm sorry I missed you guys on Sunday! Wasn't the Silent Poetry garden cool? I also loved the tulip display, and particularly those Ad Rem tulips! Like you I took pictures to remind me this fall what I want to add!

  12. Happy Blogoversery!
    I liked the way the sporty things and the animals were incorporated into those displays.
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

  13. Lisa, I had a great time, too! I would love to have a large swath of tulips like this, but then I think about what it would look like when they all fade.

    Tina, I've enjoyed your friendship here, too, over the last few years; you're always such a faithful commenter. I could definitely use a GPS system:)

    Songbird, Thank you; I knew you would enjoy the owl. I only wish I had gotten a good photo of the kestral and Great Horned Owl as well. It was a great way to spend a cold winter weekend.

    Alan, I don't want to sound negative, but save your gas money. Better yet, wait a month or so and head to MOBOT. Now that's a place I want to visit sometime soon!

    Laurrie, Thanks so much for those kind words! You must have quite a collection of hockey sticks:)

    Linda, I had so much fun, too--I never realized either when I began this blog that I would actually meet other friends in person one day. I do have quite a few pink tulips already, but 'Rosalie' definitely deserves a place in my garden:)

  14. Janet, Thank you! How cool that your husband worked with Harry Caray; I've heard so many funny stories about him. He wasn't with the Cubs his whole career, of course, but Chicago adopted him as their own.

    Rosey, Thank you. I hate to admit I've yet to read a Harry Potter book, but I'm glad you enjoyed the owl.

    Cyndy, The show was actually a little disappointing, but the socializing certainly made up for it!

    Skeeter, Oh my--you actually have these huge millipedes in your garden?? Remind me not to go digging in Georgia dirt:)

    Rose, Next year we'll have to make plans to get together, too! That is one of the things I like about the show--getting ideas for my own garden. Taking photos is the best way for me to remember them, too.

    Maggie, Thank you. The animals and other exhibits made up for the lack of exciting garden displays. But still it was an enjoyable way to spend a cold weekend.

  15. Oh I am so envious...what a fun excursion. Still looking at 2-3 feet of snow which drives me crazy because last March 17th I was tilling the dry garden, sigh.

  16. One of the best things about the flower show was spending time with the 'girls'! Always a special treat. I loved the tulips as well and kept looking for the "Beckies"...

    Happy blogversary! It is amazing the adventures and friendships that blogging have brought to us.

  17. Oh, fun! I couldn't make it this year, but I hope I can get there next year. I also want to make sure to get to the Wisconsin Garden Expo, which is right here in Madison! Personal family events kept me from both events this year. Happy blogversary!

  18. I had such a good time with you and all the girls that day! Sorry the millipede was so intimidating; maybe next time we can talk you into petting it :)
    Love the Rosalie tulips. Like Beckie, I'm still waiting for a tulip with my name on it!

  19. Happy blogoversary, Rose! Nice seeing you and Beckie and Lisa again! I LOVE your shot of the turtle; it turned out way way better than mine. :)

  20. Happy Bloggiversary, Rose! It's been a joy to know you through your blog these past few years. Has it really been that long?! I loved all your pictures of the show, but the one of the gardeners themselves was the best.

  21. Congratulations on your blogversary, rose!

    Looks like a great trip. I am growing fonder of tulips as I age; is that normal do you think?

    Love the owl. What fabulous plumage he has.

  22. So you too have headed to the big city to cure the winter blues. So much gorgeous color here! Thanks for sharing all the blooms and cute critters. How cool that you got a press pass – and well deserved too. Happy 3!

  23. Kathi, I'm so sorry about your snow! Last year was such an early spring; I don't suppose we can be that lucky again this year.

    Beckie, Thanks for such a great weekend! I do have a "Becky" in my garden--my daisy. You'll have to add a couple of these. And thank you so much for introducing me to blogging! It's great to have such a dear friend to share all these experiences with as well.

    Plant Postings, Maybe next year we can meet up at Chicago!

    Diane, I had a great time this weekend, too. Sorry to be such a scaredy cat about the millipede; I'll have to work up my nerve to touch it next time:) You may not have any tulips, but the witch hazel 'Diane' is beautiful and something I wish I had!

    Monica, I always enjoy meeting up with you! Maybe my turtle pic turned out ok, but your kestral photo was way better than mine--he's a beauty.

    W2W, The best part about blogging has been meeting so many wonderful people, like you. If you ever get back to Illinois, look me up!

    Liz, Thanks! I don't know if it's normal or not, but I love tulips more each year.

    Sarah, Thank you; yes, the trip to the big city was just what this country girl needed. I enjoy the seeing the skyscrapers as well as the garden exhibits.

  24. Happy 3rd Blogaversary Rose!!! I will celebrating my 3rd in May, time flies when you're having fun huh? lol So glad you were able to share this fun trip with us. I love all the water features especially that Mushroom fountain. That is so whimsical! :)

  25. Delighted to see Thelma and Louise 'on the road again'! Not only a great review of the Chicago Garden show but fun to see you beside 'fearless' Monica (who has toured my May garden, sipped a bit of May wine with lunch on my sunporch, met Mr. Ho-Hum, and traveled beside me to my few favorite jaunts). So now, only '1' step away from me meeting you ... and Beckie :) Happy 3rd Blogging year (just realized, it's over 4 for me)!

  26. How nice that you got to see flowers and meet up with some bloggers! The Barred Owl is beautiful. We have them here and see them occasionally. You should order those 'Ad Rem Beauty' tulips ~ they are gorgeous!

  27. Okay! I'm jealous! Can I join you next year?? :-) Truly?

  28. Rose, happy blogaversary! Three years has just flown by, and I have enjoyed visiting your blog and keeping up with downstate happenings. Thanks for the shout out. I forgot I sent that photo in. I wish I could have gone to the show & hung out with you.


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