Monday, June 1, 2009

Garden Muse Day: Chicago!

Hog Butcher for the World,

Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,

Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight Handler;

Stormy, husky, brawling,

City of the Big Shoulders . . .

from "Chicago" by Carl Sandburg

To Sandburg it was the "City of the Big Shoulders," to Sinatra it was "my kind of town," to others it is "the Windy City," but to over 50 garden bloggers this past weekend Chicago was the beautiful and gracious city that hosted this year's Spring Fling. I'm still a little bleary-eyed and coming down from a sensory overload, but I wanted to share just a few highlights of this wonderful weekend.

Garden Muse Day is sponsored the first of each month by Carolyn Gail at Sweet Home and Garden Chicago, and this month it is particularly exciting as we actually got to see her garden in person!

Carolyn Gail was gracious enough to invite all of the Spring Flingers into her garden and home.

I had admired her orange perfection iris on her post, but all of her irises were beautiful, including these yellow and purple ones.

It is one thing to see a garden or parts of it on a blog, but quite another to see it in person. Some of you may think this photo looks familiar--Mr. McGregor's Daughter showed a similar photo on her blog one day as part of the "Through the Garden Gate" meme. A few of us who arrived early on Thursday were able to tour Squirrelhaven as well, and I was amazed at how large it was! A picture may be worth "a thousand words," but the real thing is worth ten times that.

The weekend was jam-packed with so many activities that it may take me awhile to remember everything we did. But I won't forget the highlight of Friday's tours--a trip to the Chicago Botanic Garden. Beckie and I made the mistake of opting for a later arrival and barely had time to skim the surface of all this fantastic place has to offer. The English walled garden was one of my favorite parts . . .

. . . as was this field of poppies. I have a feeling you're going to see a photo of this on every Spring Flinger's blog:) This planting of over 4700 poppies made an impression on everyone who saw it.

But the best part of the trip had to be meeting "old friends" and making new ones. There was certainly never a problem striking up a conversation with someone I'd never "met" before! Bus trips to gardens as well as dinners and lunches gave us a chance to meet new people and learn more about bloggers we thought we "knew."

For example, who knew that Frances was such a butterfly magnet?

And, of course, a good blogger is never without his or her camera, ready to take advantage of every photo opportunity as Nancy, Gail, and Frances demonstrate here in the Butterfly Haven at the Peggy Notebaert Museum.

Another highlight of the trip was the Lurie Garden, part of Millenium Park. This wave of six different varieties of salvia was so impressive I must have taken 20 pictures of it and still couldn't capture its magical effect.

In the Lurie I also found another "must-have" plant--this baptisia. I know I've seen it on some of your blogs, but again it's not the same as seeing it in person. I'm smitten with it and now am trying to find a place for one in my garden.

It was truly a wonderful weekend, and it will take me several days to sort through all my photos and collect my thoughts enough to thoroughly cover Spring Fling. But there are plants to be watered and some still needing a home in the garden and there are blog posts to be read, so this short post will have to do for now. A big thank you to all the organizers of Chicago's Spring Fling for a weekend I will always remember!


  1. Yes, you must find a Baptisia for your own garden to remind you of your first Spring Fling and the amazing Lurie garden. I loved that place, too, and couldn't resist a quick return visit Sunday morning before heading back home.

    I also enjoyed getting a chance to meet you in person, Prairie Rose!

    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

  2. Rose girl ! These are great pictures .. almost as good as being there ? haha .. Were there any Canadians there at all I wonder ?
    So many things to see and the task of trying to see them all .. you need a lot of energy girl ! LOL

  3. I'm so glad I finally got to meet you! It was such fun. You & Beckie must come back this summer to see more of the botanic garden. Of course you are welcome to visit Squirrelhaven again too.
    You are so right about the experience of seeing in person a garden one has experienced only through photos.

  4. Those poppies were beautiful. I wonder why mine aren't blooming yet?

    The English walled garden is my favorite too.

  5. Rose, I am appreciating (as much as is possible through a blog) your trip to Chicago! Your description gives me yet another window into your visit. I've stopped by the blogs of other spring flingers and it's fun to see and read some things about your time there! I especially enjoy photos w/bloggers because it helps me get a better feel for 'who' they are;-) Thanks for sharing! Jan

  6. I meant to comment on the Sandburg poem for muse day...good choice (although 'Hog Butcher' probably is not the way many 'chicago-ans' want to be known) :-) Good old Carl paints quite a picture!

  7. Dear Rose....I am so pleased that you all had a wonderful time. It sounds as though you had a lot of fun.

    I love the of my all time now have me thinking that maybe next year I will try this planting scheme.....have a bed full of them...

    I have never had much joy with salvia but I do love them. I have planted some in the garden again this year and at the moment they are looking great...I have my fingers crossed.

    Mr P and I visited Chicago many years ago. We flew into the City and stayed a couple of nights. I loved it. It were on a fly drive holiday....I love is so huge compared to 'little old England'......

  8. I'm jealous! I really need ot get up there and see the Chicago Botanical Gardens. I think Chicago does a great job of landscaping it's public spaces, too.

  9. You looked like you had fun...Wish I could of joined y'all but i couldn't get out of work...ah well.

  10. Most excellent photos, Prairie Rose - how wonderful that you and Beckie were able to be part of that Fling!

    Thanks for letting us see some of the special places and people through your eyes. After meeting Frances last year, seeing her attract butterflies doesn't surprise me one bit :-]

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  11. Wonderful photos. Like them all. Sounded like a brilliant trip.
    I really would like to take a really good shot of a butterfly....... now I have my new camera, all I need is a few butterflies!

  12. Gosh, that looks an absolutely brilliant time that you had. Beautiful plants and pictures. Those poppies must have been spectacular.

  13. Yippee, the first of Spring Flingers postings for me today! I am sure I will come across more as I move onward today! The Gardens would have been a joy as meeting those which we speak with through computer world! Am glad the weather was nice for garden tours. Spring can be such a fickle time of year to plan outside activities!

  14. I wish I could have attended, but unfortunately duty called at work! Sounds like you had a great time!

  15. You lucky duck! I can read your excitement in the words and pics. I'm just a little envious but not so much for missing the sights. The wonderful bloggers you got to meet--now there's a treasure beyond words!

  16. Rose, Hello dear! I had a wonderful time with you! Do please come to Nashville for a visit, it will be a delight to see you and Beckie again.

    Your photos are wonderful...I felt the same, none of my capture how fantastic the rivers of salvia and other plantings looked.

    I am so glad we spent time at the butterfly house; beautiful creatures and such a relaxing time.

    See you soon...I hope!


  17. Carol, Beckie and I made a second visit to the Lurie Sunday morning as you know--a great way to end the weekend. It was so much fun getting to meet you, too!

    Joy, "Almost" as good as being there:) I am catching up on my sleep today. Maybe next year for you?

    MMD, It was so much fun getting to meet you and to see Squirrelhaven in person! I hope we can get up to Chicago again soon.

    Marnie, The poppy field reminded me of Dorothy nearing the Emerald City, except they didn't put me to sleep!

    Jan, I've only scratched the surface of the weekend--all I could do without sufficient rest. I don't think "Hog Butcher" applies anymore either:)

    Cheryl, Beckie and I had such a great time! The poppies were amazing, and if you have room for a large planting it's quite breathtaking. I have three purple salvias, but it was the overall effect at the Lurie again that really made you stop and stare. Chicago is a beautiful and very friendly city.

    Joyce, Yes, you must see the Botanic Garden! And I agree, everywhere we looked, there were "greenscapes." I only wish I'd taken more pictures.

    Nickie, I know there were many others who wished they could have gone; perhaps another year for you--I think it may become an annual event.

    Annie, I commented to one of the other Austin bloggers I met that I wished you had come! It was great to meet so many wonderful people and make new friends.

    Maggie May, You could have taken a gazillion butterfly photos! Unfortunately, I realized too late I had my camera on the wrong setting and many didn't turn out.

    Suburbia, It was a great girls' weekend out! Gardening, good food, and friends that were easy to talk to--not much more you could ask for!

    Skeeter, We had beautiful weather, even a little cooler than I expected. You're right, though, the best part was meeting everyone!

    Laura, We did have a great time. That's the only trouble with May; it's a busy time for so many people. The weeds have grown like, well, weeds in my absence:)

    W2W, There were some sights we saw that we couldn't have seen otherwise, but you are so right--it was the people who were the best part of the trip!

  18. Gail, It was wonderful being able to meet you in person; I am going to find a way to get to Nashville one way or another this summer! I realized later that I didn't take as many photos as I'd planned, but even so, there is no way they could capture the effect of being there. Glad you arrived home safely!

  19. Dear Rose,
    How wonderful!
    I am so excited to see and read all about Spring Fling. Looks as if you had a fanrastic time.

  20. I love Muse Day (my post is up) and I love hearing about the Spring Fling. What a time you must have had.

  21. Sounds as if all had a great time Rose. Not quite on the same scale as your 'Spring Fling', but I really enjoyed meeting up with Patient Gardener and VP from Veg Plotting last month at a spring gardening show - both lovely ladies :)

  22. It so nice to meet you Rose, my fellow name-buddy! If you can, look for a copy of the current Chicagoland Gardening because I've got an article in there about baptisias. I'm sure there's a good one out there for your garden. I'm glad you enjoyed your visit here!

  23. Pam/Digging says:

    Rose, it was so nice to meet you during our car ride to Rich's place on Thursday. Your pics are lovely, and it's great to see Spring Fling through your eyes. I'll be winnowing my many pictures tonight and will certainly be posting about the poppies and salvias too. They were unforgettable.

  24. Oh my gawd, Rose! What a perfectly awesome time you and Beckie had!! Spring Fling! Wish I could have joined you. Your pics are beautiful - I especially like the purple field of salvia(s) and the butterflies.

    It must have been fun to meet other bloggers. Glad you're back and thanks for sharing your trip with us.

  25. Hi Rose, it was such a treat to meet the traveling comdedy act of Rose and Beckie! The chit chat on the train's upper deck was a high point for me. Thanks for the link love and taking the photos in the butterfly house. That was a magic moment. I think you summed up the way we all felt quite well about the whole event. :-)

  26. I forgot to mention your nerves of steel on driving us back to Chicago! You were great and thanks. :-)

  27. Muse Day was a perfect opportunity to use Sandberg's poem about Chicago. Wouldn't he have something to add if he could see how beautiful it is now. I think you captured the Lurie much better than I. I was disappointed in my pics. It was such an awesome sight.

    Thank you for a most memorable trip. You made it such fun for me. Thelma and Louise ride again!

  28. Rose, I was thrilled to get to know you better this weekend. The SF was a great experience. Your pictures of the river of Salvia at the Lurie is great. I wish I was a butterfly and could fly across the top of the salvias enjoying the lovely waves of color. mmmmmm Can't wait to read and see photos of other places. Especially the ones I missed. They just make me want to go back again.

    Thanks so much for driving us back to the hotel the first night. I know it was a challenge.

  29. The weekend sounds delightful, Rose. Your photos are great, especially the field of poppies. Thelma & Louise will have a hard time topping this trip!

  30. Sherry, We did have a wonderful time! It will be interesting to see the different perspectives of all the different bloggers of the weekend.

    Commonweeder, We had a great time, and I've only scratched the surface here.

    Anna, What fun it must have been to meet up with VP and Patient Gardener! Garden bloggers are the nicest people.

    Rose, Thank you for the tip on the baptisia; I will definitely check out that article. It was so much fun to meet you, too!

    Pam, I enjoyed meeting you, too. I have a feeling the poppies and salvia will be featured on many posts:)

    Wendy, We had so much fun! It was great to meet people we knew through blogging; most people were exactly the way we expected--their personalities shine through their blogs.

    Frances, It was wonderful to finally get to meet you! I don't think of Beckie and myself as a "comedy act" normally, but I think we were like a couple of giggly schoolgirls this weekend, we were having so much fun. It was great to meet another Ringo fan:) And I'm glad we all made it downtown--did I mention I don't see well at night??

    Beckie, I think Sandburg wouldn't even recognize today's Chicago. So many of my pictures didn't turn out either and I'm kicking myself for not taking a few others. But it was really hard to capture the effect of all that we saw in a photograph. Thanks for going with me; it wouldn't have been the same without you!

    Lisa, I was thrilled, too, to finally meet you this weekend. Maybe we can meet again this summer here or in Indiana. It's going to be interesting to see everyone's different take on all that we saw. Glad you survived my driving:)

    Joey, The field of poppies was just breathtaking. Yes, it will be a long time before Thelma and Louise make another trip as exciting as this one:)

  31. Looks like Spring Fling was a good time for all. Your photos are amazing; especially the field of poppies, Frances the Butterfly Magnet - enjoyed them all. That Carl Sandburg had a way with words, didn't he?

  32. Hi Rose, I'm having great fun visiting everyone's blogs, seeing the photos and reading all the different perspectives.

    what a pleasure it was to meet you and Beckie! I'm so glad you were able to come. I only wish we'd had more time to visit!

  33. I think your picture of the salvia "river" is the nicest one I've seen. I still feel like I need to go back and retake those photos - it was so hard to capture that undulation!
    It was completely lovely to meet you and Beckie this weekend. If I find myself heading Downstate I will look you up.
    Now go forth and find basswood! :)

  34. Hi Rose, I just got home in the wee hours this morning and am having trouble adjusting back to normal daily routines! I enjoyed meeting you and Beckie and hope you had a safe trip back home.

  35. I knew we were of the same mind as we picked the same poem to describe our visit! You have some wonderful pictures here and I enjoy seeing Chicago through the eyes of others.

  36. I think you did capture the magic of the salvia: it's a lovely photo and looks very special.

    Glad you had such a good time.

  37. It was so nice to meet you. I like your wonderful overview of the Spring Fling and the many stops. I didn't make it to the butterfly garden, but now I wish I had. Do try to find a place for Baptisia. It is beautiful in gardens and prairie's with you blog name, you shouldn't be without it! Blogger thinks I'm my daughter, but now you know me as Dee.

  38. Rose, it was so great to meet you and so many other bloggers! Your pictures of the weekend are wonderful. I hope that beech tree comes to live in your garden!

  39. Rose, what lovely pics! It was great meeting you and hang in there - your tomatoes will be ready before you know it! Hope to see you at the next spring fling.

  40. Rose you certainly had a memorable fling I can see from yours and all the other bloggers that attended who posted about this occasion! It is always a joy and thrill to meet other garden bloggers in such a delightful way!
    Thank you for sharing these memories of yours!

  41. WOnderful to meet you and welcome you to my home and garden, Rose. Thanks for the lovely photos. Fantastic post on the Chicago sights.


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