Monday, March 15, 2010

GBBD: Wishful Thinking

Once again it's time for the monthly event that all garden bloggers look forward to--Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, hosted by our creative hoe-stess Carol of May Dreams Gardens. And no, these daffodils are not blooming in my garden--they were part of a display at the Chicago Flower and Garden Show last week.

Instead, these are the only "blooms" I have in my garden right now--tulip and daffodil shoots beginning to emerge from the muddy ground. It's definitely beginning to feel like spring here in the Midwest, but there's not a crocus or snowdrop in sight in my little corner of the prairie. Zip, zilch, nothing. So instead of showing you more bare dirt, I hope you don't mind if I cheat a little today and show you some blooming scenes from the Chicago Garden Show instead. I'll try to avoid chatting too much so you have plenty of time to visit other Bloom Day posts today.

The theme of this year's show, which good friend Beckie and I attended on Monday, was "Cultivating Great Performances." You had to stretch your imagination a little to see the connection to the theater in some of the displays, but this one made sense. "Bye, Bye, Birdie" emphasized "consideration for wildlife" with an over-sized birdhouse entry and birdhouses everywhere. Wouldn't you love to have your spring bulbs all appear at the same time to create a colorful vignette like this?

And, of course, no theatrical exhibit would be complete without homage to the greatest playwright of them all, William Shakespeare. I think Shakespeare might have been a gardener at heart.

Do not, as some ungracious pastors do,
Show me the steep and thorny way to heaven,
Whiles, like a puff'd and reckless libertine,
Himself the primrose path of dalliance treads
And recks not his own rede.

The exhibit was interesting, but not outstanding. I think it would have been much more helpful if quotes from Shakespeare's plays with the references to the specific plants or areas would have been staked in each part. Not criticizing, just suggesting . . .

I didn't see many children in attendance, but there were several displays that would have appealed to them. "Lanie's World," sponsored in part by American Girl, featured a charming backyard including her very own "pizza garden."

We were really impressed with the elaborate exhibit created by the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences and the friendly students on hand eager to explain their work. "Great Performances Through the Eyes of a Child" featured scenes from several fairy tales, including "The Three Little Pigs." Looks like the Big Bad Wolf has already blown down the first Little Pig's straw house, but not to worry . . .

. . . the Three Little Pigs made good use of all that leftover straw in their vegetable garden:)

Another exhibit "Alice's Wonderland" wasn't quite so kid-friendly with a pretty scary-looking Red Queen presiding over the display. But there were some whimsical touches like these glass mushrooms.

And a replica of the famous croquet game. Now this is the best use of pink flamingo ornaments I've ever seen--sorry, Monica:)

A big part of what I enjoy about shows like this is finding new ideas to use in my own garden. Last year's show featured lots of spring bulbs, but this year's seemed to favor cyclamen, oxalis, hydrangeas, and using ornamental edibles. Large cabbages like this one were everywhere, including container plantings.

The most unusual edible had to be this flowering kale. I've never seen it grow this tall and flower before. (Thanks, Rose R. for identifying it.)

How's this for a clever window box arrangement?

Here's another novel idea--a lighted pillar made out of fast food drink holders! I wonder how many trips through McDonald's drive-through it would take to create one of these:)

Not so practical for adaptation at home, the "Theatrical Tablescapes" nevertheless were beautiful to look at.

Doesn't this rose "sundae" look delicious?

There seemed to be quite a few more exhibits than last year, though many of them were smaller in size. The most elaborate of this year's offerings had to be "Miss Saigon: A Garden for the Day and Night" with tons of rock incorporated into the large water features.

Bloggers aren't the only ones who'll try anything for a good photo:) Then again, she might be a blogger I haven't met yet.

This shot is for Monica--The entry sign for "Jekyll and Hyde" called this "a quagmire of buckthorn" :) This was part of a prairie restoration exhibit and actually one of my favorites.

The display itself wasn't particularly attractive as it showed invasive species first that were then cut down to create a prairie planting. But the guide at the exhibit was so knowledgeable and enthusiastic about answering all our questions that I learned quite a lot about the subject. I didn't know, for example, that there was actually a company that specializes in creating these native restorations.

"Our Town: Your Garden" was another surprising favorite. Sponsored by the Arthritis Foundation, this exhibit featured not only pretty plantings but also displays of ergonomic tools and suggestions for gardeners with disabilities like this raised coldframe. Good ideas, too, for us Baby Boomers with aching knees and creaking backs:)

One of my favorite exhibits at last year's show was the Japanese Garden. No Japanese Garden this year, but "Great Performances: The Art of Bonsai" brought a little Zen to this year's show. Beckie and I both fell in love with these horticultural works of art.

We had a great day, and despite a harrowing drive home through dense fog, the Chicago Flower and Garden Show was well worth the visit. This may become an annual expedition for the two of us.

I will be off-line for several days, but I hope to visit everyone as soon as I return. In the meantime, be sure to visit Carol for other blooms from around the world. And don't forget, you have until midnight tonight to comment below if you'd like some free seeds and a cookbook!


  1. Looks like you had a great time at the show. Thanks for sharing it with us for bloom day!

  2. I would love to plant a quagmire of something! I know what you mean by wishful thinking, looking at the daff foliage. Here we've only the H's: hazels and hellebores.

  3. Rose girl : ) THAT was AMAZING !
    I love the different themes and YES ! Shakespeare's garden was stunning .. all of the displays have so many ideas that we can "borrow" .. what a gorgeous exhibit to see : )
    Wish I was there ? LOL

  4. Would I ever luv to do a pizza garden with Phillip. The pink flamingo photo made me laugh out loud. I really like the flower box arrangement. I'm a fan of all flower boxes.

    Thanks for the stroll through the Chicago Flower and Garden Show. Glad that the fog didn't keep you from attending.


  5. Great bloom day post. Enjoyed your photos of the flower and garden show.

  6. What a great time you gals had. It has been fun seeing all of the displays though everyones eyes. So much inspiration.

  7. Fabulous posting! I love the photo of the photographer. And I am reminded that in two weeks I have a rose conference and the Boston Flower show. All I have is snow of my own.

  8. It gives me lots of great ideas too. Where to start? Love that shot of Chicago in the fog. Where's the wind when you need it?

  9. This looks like a great show Rose. I like the recycling of the trays from Mcdonalds.

    Hopefully it won't be long til you see some daffodils in full bloom.

  10. Oh, I missed that "rose sundae"! How cute! I'm sorry you got stuck in the fog... we had some pretty days last week that but wasn't one of them :/
    I'm heading outside to look for blooms but I'm guessing that, like you, I don't have much. YET. They're coming!!

  11. A brilliant show.
    I lived all the exhibits with the different nicknacks. Just the kind of garden show I love to visit.
    Everything is seriously set back here because of the bad weather we had recently.

    Nuts in May

  12. Love the primrose and tulip photo. Also that great cold frame. That couldn't be too hard to make, if I had the time.

  13. I am so glad you posted about the garden show. I have been dying to see it. I thought there were many fun ideas to bring away, even though it would be too much to do them all. Enjoy your time away, and have a safe trip.

  14. There are some great combinations here. Your Daffs and Tulips will bloom beautifully I'm sure....I'm a Floridian Native...have never gotten the whole pink Flamingo thing myself..

  15. Rose, that buckthorn didn't look at all like my buckthorn... I know there are different types but I don't recognize that bark, which is common to all (or so I thought). I should have looked at the sign to get more info! I also took a photo of the flowering kale, hoping for an ID. I knew it was some kind of brassica--thanks for solving the mystery! Nothing blooming here, either. I also enjoyed photographing Chicago in the fog--I'll have photos up in a day or two. :)

  16. Hi Rose, I really did email them just now. When I was there, those plants didn't look buckthorny to me but there were so many distractions I didn't think about it again. Now seeing your photo, it reminds me. The two species I'm overly familiar with both have dark brown bark, with large obvious lenticels, and also have thorns and would have clumps of dark dark blue berries this time of year. Those in their display had much lighter bark, with no obvious lenticels (though I didn't look close up), thorns, or berries. I'm very curious to find what species they are!

  17. You need to plant some Galanthus elwesii, then you'd have something blooming to cheer you up.
    I'm sorry we couldn't get together for the flower show. The pink flamingos & croquet wickets weren't set up yet when I saw that display.

  18. My favorite is the 'Theatrical Tablescapes'. Seriously, it looks almost good enough to eat!

  19. Rose, Thanks for taking us along to that great show! The rose sundae and the tablescapes were awesome. And that woman lying down to get a photo was too funny!

  20. Great post, Rose! It was interesting to read about Shakespeare and plants.

  21. What a great post, and very interesting to read as well. YOu managed to find plenty of beauty even if it is still VERY EARLY spring at your latitude. From down here in the Ozarks, I can promise you that spring is on its way, the evidence is popping up all over The Havens.

    My favorite was the window box full of watering cans. What a cool display.

  22. Loved the tour of the Chicago Garden Show from your literary eyes Rose! I've bookmarked the photo of the windowbox garden~I am going to copy that one...There are always so many wonderful gardens and that is one I can do! Thank you for the tour~~happy Bloom Day! gai;

  23. Rose, happy GBBD! Sorry to be so late to visit your blog. I’m in NYC and spring is really late here too. Just shoot and no daffs here either. Your Chicago ones cheered me up as did the Shakespeare homage. I loved your blogger in action shot. Thanks for the lovely tour.

  24. Even if there aren't that many blooms (or any) in your garden, you fed us with these beautiful photos.

  25. Rose, glad you found some shoots in your garden. They give one hope that spring is coming don't they?

    Your photos of the flower show turned out great-they look even better on the computer. :)

    You should have been consulted for the Shakespeare's garden. I knew the primroses meant something, but what?? And I am sure there were other flowers referred to in his works that would have really pulled the consept together.

    I am planting a few seeds. this eve. Just can't wait any longer!

  26. I like the Shakespeare quotes idea! That would have been a great addition. And I'm glad you shared pictures of the prairie restoration. I feel like my omission has been taken care of! (Thanks for the link love too!)

    No blooms here either, which is pretty sad when so many others are participating in GBBD. Next month!!

  27. What a great show that was. I saw Monica's post too. Wonderful. Happy Bloom Day!~~Dee

  28. What a delightful post! I loved you taking us along with to the Chicago garden show. Maybe one year we garden bloggers could all meet there.

    Loved the birdhouse surrounded by spring flowers. Yes, it would be special to have those arrangements come up all at the same time. I adore tiny daffys.

    And the pizza garden with dolls. What a neat idea. To put dolls in the garden. Mind you, they'd probably get full of mud when it rained. Hmmmmm.

    Like that gardener-maybe-a-blogger person taking a pic. I'll bet she is a blogger.
    That tablescape was beautiful too, especially the rose sundae.

  29. I really enjoyed sharing that visit with you Rose. I loved all the photos but my favourite was the one with the bulbs surrounding the bird house, so pretty!

    There was a fashion here a few years ago for growing ornamental cabbages with flowers but it never really grabbed me.

    I wonder if the lady on the floor with the camera ever got up again, I'm not sure I could have, at least not in a dignified manner :)

    It really was a very nice flower and garden show and very imaginative. It was a shame you had to fight your way through the fog to get home though!

  30. I'm sorry you don't have any blooms in your yard yet but I'm glad you shared your photos of the garden show. It's been interesting to see all the different photos from different bloggers. I feel like I went there and yet, I want to go myself!

  31. Lots of great photos from the show Rose! Wow - you really did have a lot of fog to deal with - not fun driving in that. Glad you got home safely. I'd wanted to try to make it to the show on Monday to see you and Beckie, but some sort of virus got me and kept me at home. :( Glad it went away quickly though so I could make it at the end of the week.

  32. Hi Rose. What a wonderful show it was. Thanks for sharing your wonderful pictures.They things that people think up are always amazing to me. The flamingo mallet or golf club made me laugh. I have this thing about plastic flamingo's in peoples yards ;-) I go for the different too because I loved the watering cans in the window box. Fun ideas.

  33. A wonderful flower show indeeed.
    I love seeing the native prairie restoration projects. I am trying to plant native to my area. It is hard when nursery plants beg for a spot....

  34. Oh I hope that you do not have to wait too long for some flowers Rose but at least you can see some hopeful signs. I enjoyed seeing the garden show through your eyes. I agree with your comment that "Shakespeare might have been a gardener at heart, as there are so many beautiful and memorable references to flowers in his plays.

  35. Gosh, that was lovely, wonderful 'tablescapes'

    Hope you are having a good time in Arizona


  36. fabulous croquet set! very alice in wonderland...

  37. What a fun time you had, Rose. Actually, many of those ideas were do-able. :-) Were you inspired to try any of them? Thanks for sharing!

  38. God, do I long for such garden shows! How exciting. Thank you for the tour, Rose! Hope your garden gets colorful by this month end.

  39. Those are some great ideas, planning the garden around the theater. I usually have to look through a scrim at my garden. It's much more appealing that way! Thanks for the tour of the show, Rose. Your garden will be blooming like a Broadway show in no time at all!

  40. Rose, your tour was delightful. Happy Spring :)

  41. It certainly looks like a different take on a garden show!

    Our first daff has just bloomed!!


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