Although we skipped the show last year and visited the Indianapolis show instead, we have attended the Chicago show for several years and feel somewhat like old hands now at navigating Chicago transportation. This year we were smarter and asked the taxi to drop us off at the Flower Show entrance, rather than walk the 5/8 mile path through all the shops and exhibits of Navy Pier to get to the east end of the building. Even without the signs, we knew we had arrived when we spotted this huge bust bedecked with greenery and blooms outside the show's entrance.
Once we entered the showroom, our spring-starved eyes were immediately drawn to the displays of spring blooms. Tulips of every color imaginable were everywhere. Oh, how I do love tulips!
And hyacinths . . . those with a keen sense of smell didn't even need to bend down to catch a whiff of their intoxicating fragrance.
How I wish my spring garden looked like this! I took quite a few photos of this garden--probably my favorite--but mostly I just stood and drank it all in. The display was beautiful enough as it was, but a colored light wheel hidden in the middle highlighted the pink and white tulips, changing their hue--which accounts for the strange coloration in this photo.
The theme for this year's show was "Art in the Garden," as evidenced by this unique artist's palette. I must admit the theme wasn't as obvious as some in past years, but it really didn't matter, as Beckie and I enjoyed the plant displays more than anything.
The "InspirAsian" garden was a calm oasis in the middle of the show. I was impressed when I learned that this garden was designed and built by students of the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences who took ideas from their connection with sister schools in Japan and South Korea. These high school horticulture students always create an interesting display at the show, but this year's was especially impressive.
Ponds and waterfalls were featured in another display garden, "A Water Sonata." The first pond as you entered was the smallest, but a charming one and a practical size for almost any home landscape.
The water features grew larger as you progressed through the garden, ending with this unique waterfall as you exited. I was entranced by this "grand" idea, but the ex-pianist in me couldn't help thinking what a shame to ruin this once-beautiful instrument. Still, it certainly was an attention-getter.
While we may have missed some of the art as we passed through the different gardens, Beckie and I both enjoyed the whimsical sculptures in the garden designed by Rich's Foxwillow Pines Nursery. This froggie band was made from rusted pieces of farm and industrial machinery. They made you want to boogie along with them.
Besides the display gardens, there are always other attractions as well. A few years ago, creative hats were a crowd-pleasing display. This year "Footwear: Women's Stories" showcased decorative footwear designed by Chicago textile artists to represent "a defining moment in their lives." Accompanying each unique pair of shoes or boots was a short explanation from the artist explaining what the footwear symbolized to her. These peacock slippers would have definitely appealed to my young granddaughter!
I don't remember the story behind these leafy boots, but I think any gardener can relate to them:)
Colorful dancing shoes almost beg you to do the rhumba! I wish I had taken a photo, though, of my favorite display--a pair of sturdy work boots with one tongue stretched out nearly two feet in length on which the shoemaker had engraved her story of creating handmade shoes for customers around the world.
Other displays scattered throughout the exhibition hall were of elaborate cake designs. I wanted to reach out and take a lick of this little gnome's beard to make sure it really was made of frosting, but I don't think the exhibitors would have appreciated that. So I just took their word that all of this was edible.
Visiting a show like this, I always come away with a few ideas to try in my own garden, and this year's Chicago Flower Show was no exception. But before this gets too long-winded, I think I'll save some of those ideas for another day, so stay tuned for part II.
By the time we had to leave the show, the sun had disappeared, and the clouds were unleashing a swiftly falling snow. The snow followed us all the way home, but for a few short hours on this day, we had been transported into a floriferous spring!