I suspect the reason most cities hold a garden show in February or March is because they know winter-weary gardeners like my friend Beckie and myself will gladly make the three-hour trip by train, car, and taxicab just to get a taste of spring, even if it is indoors. Bloomers like these beautiful irises were a welcome sight and certainly lifted my spirits. But I suppose the real reason for late-winter garden shows is so that businesses can inspire gardeners and perhaps entice them to buy their products or services before gardening season gets into full swing. The Chicago show certainly showcased many new ideas for the garden.
Vertical gardening seems to be a popular trend in recent years. One of the more interesting and practical displays of this type of gardening was in a product called Live Wall. One side of this structure was decorative, filled with heucheras and trailing plants, but the other side, shown here, was probably the most appealing. Each box was filled with some type of vegetable or herb. The product is rather pricey, but a nearby graphic display illustrated how savings from a vegetable garden would pay for the structure in just a few years.
While saving money is certainly an enticement, I think for most of us the quality and freshness is the biggest reason for growing our own vegetables. The fresh lettuce growing here definitely looked better than most of what I see in the supermarket these days. Space is not issue for me, so I won't be growing any of my vegetables vertically, but the display demonstrated that anyone, even with limited space, can grow their own vegetables.
A display of window boxes demonstrated different plant combinations. Although I don't have any window boxes, I always enjoy this display to get some new ideas for my containers. I would never have thought of planting lavender in a container, but I like the natural look of the taller lavender in the back of this window box.
I really, really want a raised bed in my vegetable garden, but what caught my eye in this small display of raised beds was this old wooden ladder. I've seen ladders used for plant displays before, of course, but never with wooden trays across the rungs for added space. I would think these trays wouldn't be hard to make...hmm, a project to keep my Dad busy this summer, perhaps?
Sometimes it's the little things that inspire. I know I'm not the only one always looking for a better way to mark plants. I thought these plant markers were some of the prettiest I've ever seen. I'm not sure of the materials used here, but I'm sure something suitable could be found at any craft store. These would be a great project for an artistic gardener.
Another idea I liked--old silverware engraved with plant names.
And then, of course, there are the plants that call to me and beg to be added to my plant wish list. I first saw these purple anemones two years ago at the Chicago show, but then forgot about them when fall bulb ordering rolled around. This year a note has been made in the garden journal so that they won't be forgotten again. Don't they look exquisite paired with pale pink azaleas?
Another planting demanded a closer look and a check of the I.D. tag to identify them.
Double Primroses--I've never seen these before! I'm not sure if these are hardy in my zone 5 garden, but if they are, they will be added to the plant shopping list as well.
One end of the exhibition hall is filled with vendors, and Beckie and I allowed enough time to stroll through this area before we had to leave to catch our train. Although I vowed I wouldn't spend much money here, unless I found something I really, really wanted, I was excited when Beckie noticed a sign next to the tulip garden that all these bulbs were available for sale by a vendor at the show. I am a pushover when it comes to double tulips and couldn't resist the huge blooms of these 'Cool Crystal' doubles, which are pink, not the peach of this poor photo. But what made me really excited was finally finding a source of some tulips I first saw here two years, a bulb that I have been hunting for ever since . . .
These may look like ordinary pink tulips to you, but I think you'll understand that my "namesake" deserves a place in my garden:) When I mentioned these tulips to my mother two years ago, she told me that she had 'Rosalie' tulips in her garden long ago. Thinking of her as I filled out the order form, I thought it was only appropriate to honor her, too, so I purchased some 'Princess Irene' tulips as well. I left the show a very satisfied customer, looking forward to seeing not only this year's spring blooms in my garden, but next year's as well.
The Chicago Flower and Garden Show is held every year at Navy Pier; next year's show runs from March 15-24. If you're within driving distance of the Windy City, it's definitely worth a visit, especially if you just can't wait for spring to arrive!