. . . and Monica and Linda and Diane. Just a little over a week after a special visit from longtime blogging friends Cheryl and Lisa, Beckie and I headed north to Chicago at the invitation from good buddy Monica for another garden blogging adventure! For several months we've been trying to arrange a time that all of us could meet to tour the Chicago Botanic Garden. Finally, the stars were in alignment, and Saturday morning found us in the northern suburbs meeting up with Monica the Garden Faerie as well as Linda "Garden Girl" and Diane of "The Garden of Live Flowers." Such a treat to see all three of these ladies again after meeting them over a year ago at the '09 Spring Fling in Chicago.
The day was perfect--despite a chilly wind that sent me back to the car for a sweatshirt, the sun was bright, and a brisk pace around the garden kept us all warm enough. Even the threatening clouds in the afternoon didn't erupt until we were on our way back home, thanks to Monica, who assured us all she was the Good Weather Faerie as well:)
On my first and only visit to Chibot during last year's Spring Fling, there wasn't time to see all the areas of the Garden, so the five of us were eager to see it all this time around. Walking across the bridge leading to the main garden areas, we noticed this lush display of blooms above us. Yes, those are mums--wired to the overhead beams for a perfect hanging display.
|Snagging an "unsuspecting passerby," we took time for one group photo before becoming immersed in plant talk.|
One of the first areas we saw was the vegetable garden, an area I usually skip--I mean, vegetables are um...vegetables. But I don't think I've ever seen a vegetable garden with such perfect plants and such absolutely straight rows. Some, like the ruffled kale above, were so pretty that we saw them in other plantings throughout the garden as well.
|Beckie checks out the cosmos in one section of the veggie garden.|
I do miss having these blooms in my garden this year.
I remember visiting the Waterfall Garden on my last visit here, but it was nice to see it at a leisurely and safe pace this time, not having to scramble down slippery rocks in order to catch the Spring Fling bus before it left.
One area I saw only from a distance on that last visit was the Japanese Garden. I do love Japanese gardens, and I appreciated the group's willingness to humor me in taking a short side trip to this area.
A true Japanese garden takes many years to develop and must be very labor-intensive, which is why I appreciate their serenity but won't try to create my own. Notice (you may have to enlarge the photo) the cables attached to the tree limbs to keep them at a perfect perpendicular angle.
This, I believe, was the Circle Garden. I would love to have just one-fourth of this profusion of blooms in my garden!
Notice Linda on the right feeling the texture of one of the plants. This was the best part of our trip--visiting a fabulous garden like this with other gardening enthusiasts who like to touch and smell plants and, like you, actually enjoy stopping to check out tags for specific names is so much more fun! And more often than not, at least one of the group could provide even more information about many of the plants.
|You never know what interesting or helpful information you might find by reading the signs.|
Forsythia Sage 'Redneck Girl', which looks like anything but a redneck to me:)
Salvia 'Indigo Spires', whose tall dramatic spires of purple look good with Soliago cultivars.
Ooh, my favorite color. Salvia azurea 'Pitcher's Blue Sage' will definitely be on the "look for this next year" list.
Shrub Bushclover Lespedeza bicolor found in the Japanese Garden. Don't you love those airy branches?
Smaller than many of the other elephant's ears, this 'Lime Zinger' would make a dramatic container plant, as Linda suggested.
Pretty Colchicum reminds me of spring.
Prairie Dropseed grass--these perfectly mounded grasses with their airy plumes would look just as good in a formal garden as growing wild on the prairie.
Japanese Anemone--already on my wish list!
There were a few plants whose tags we couldn't find nor could anyone identify them. I know I've seen these planted in the Idea Garden, but can't remember their names.
This very tall plant was growing in an area of natives and had us all stumped. Can anyone identify it?
Another tagless bloomer--these gorgeous blue and white morning glories or maybe moonflowers were huge!
I could use some tags in my own garden for reference. This Aster tartaricus was clearly marked, a bittersweet recognition for me. Last fall Gail kindly sent home a start of this aster with me, and I've been on the lookout for it all fall. But once I saw these plants, especially the ones not quite blooming, I had the sinking feeling that I pulled them all out this summer, thinking they were weeds!
The only area of the Botanic Garden we didn't make it to was the Prairie area, which Monica especially wanted to see. But we did visit Evening Island, just across the way from the Prairie, which was filled with many native prairie plants. Monica did take a gander across the bridge to see mostly grasses and goldenrod in bloom and said she was satisfied. I do hope so, especially since they all humored me by making the trek to the Japanese Garden.
But there were plenty of prairie and other native plants throughout the rest of the Garden. Thanks to the others for identifying this prairie dock for me. I didn't realize this plan grew to such gargantuan heights! Speaking of natives, I thought it was interesting that the English Walled Garden, such a beautiful place with its brick walls and formal flowerbeds, was actually filled with American native plants!
Most of the natives, like the tall compass plant above, had already gone to seed. Just in case the Seed Police are reading this post, I assure you that some of those seed pods just fell to the ground . . . and to make sure they didn't re-seed in the lawn instead, I put them in my camera case simply to avoid unwanted volunteers in your garden.
Finally, Chicago Spring Flingers of '09 will surely remember the magnificent display of poppies that spring. I was eager to find that spot again, wondering what it looked like after the poppies stopped blooming. A single photograph can't begin to capture the equally beautiful field of annuals blooming here in September.
Diane checks out all the tall zinnias.
The zinnias were every bit as spectacular as the poppies were last spring. I was mesmerized.
The Chicago Botanic Garden is located approximately 20 miles north of the city, but is easily accessed by train or by car. (Some of you will be happy to know that I am becoming more and more comfortable driving in this area, and, except for one missed exit that was not clearly marked, Beckie and I never got lost or found ourselves too far "west of west":) ) It is a must-see for any gardening enthusiast visiting the Chicago area.
Thanks again, ladies, for the companionship and such an enjoyable day!