Thursday, September 30, 2010

On the Road Again with Thelma and Louise...

. . . 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.
I found myself talking more than taking pictures during the day, but I did manage to take some photos of new plants that I'd like to add to my own garden one day:

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!


  1. Hi Rose, so pleased you enjoyed your time with fellow gardeners at the Botanic Gardens.
    I could have done with the cooler weather when we visited. I think you would have liked that to!!

    The gardens certainly are beautiful.
    The waterfall is stunning, I love water in a garden.

    Visiting gardens gives us a taste of what we can achieve in our own space. The Idea Garden has certainly got me motivated. I have worked in the garden most days and have got things spinning around in my head at the moment.
    I have so many ideas, and am so excited at the prospect of adding some prairie planting.

    Lovely tour Rose, tku for sharing with us....

  2. What a fun trip! The CBG is always a wonderful destination. Glad you guys had such a nice time!

  3. You and Beckie are certainly the social butterflies. Flitting around to all the gorgeous gardens. The CBG is a place full of inspiration. All of those flowers filling in where the poppies were is the best. I would love to have walked the Japanese garden too. Great photo of you and the "girls". Fun fun fun.

  4. Once again you have recounted the day and activites perfectly. With all your great pictures, you have represented CBG during the fall very well. I couldn't help but wonder when we made plans tp go just what would still be in bloom and was very pleasantly surprised to see such color.

    It was great fun to see the girls again and renew friendships made at the Spring Fling. I find it amazing that when ever we meet a fellow garden blogger we are immediately comfortable with them-as if we'd had coffee together everyday for years. :)

    Thanks to you for such a wonderful get away. As always, I enjoyed our trip and especially your company. Now I am I Thelma or are you??

  5. As I was reading I found myself wishing I was there with you all! How fun and the garden looks wonderful....Thank you for a delightful tour, xxgail ps Thank you for the shoutout and I am so sorry about the aster!

  6. What a fun outing you girls had Rose! I loved all the great blooms you shared. Too many to choose a favorite though. I have to say that the waterfall is pretty spectacular. ;)

  7. How very wonderful to tour this garden with some good friends and do it leisurely. It looks so great!

  8. What a fun time you had! You are certainly having some great adventures this year :)

    You saw so many lovely blooms and plantings and I enjoyed seeing them. I particularly liked the blue and white Morning Glory, the Shrub Bushclover and the Colchicums. I have the Japanese Anemone in my garden!

    May I say, you look just as lovely as you 'sound' :)

    The word verification is 'blesses' so I am sending them to you :) (Probably not very grammatical though!)

  9. The Chicago Botanic Garden looks like a truly wondrous place!! The tall plant you saw among the natives is a Vitex, looks to be V. agnus-castus. The blue and white Morning Glory/ Moonflower looks spectacular!

  10. Hi Rose,

    What a terrific trip you must have had! It looks like fun. More fun than college interviews, which my daughter has been enduring.

    I love those Bon Bon Cosmos. They are one of my faves, too.

  11. So many lovely pictures there! I particularly loved the hanging blossom on the overhead trellis and the waterfall and the seed heads against the lovely blue sky.
    Wonderfully caught.
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

  12. Oh I think we have a Japanese anemone plant! It looks like that one.

    I'm a terror for picking bits off plants - just little bits of leaf or stalk and sniffing it.

    How lovely to do a garden tour with like-minded friends!

  13. So lovely whenever Thelma and Louise have an adventure. I can't think of a nicer place to visit...or nicer companions to share it with. I am in love with those varigated morning glories. Too bad some of those seeds didn't fall into your camera bag too! ;-)

  14. Cheryl, The temperature has definitely changed--some days it's been too cold and windy to think of working in the garden! I'm so glad you were inspired by the Idea Garden; I've certainly gotten a lot of ideas from it, not to mention learned a lot there.

    Rose, I really didn't know what to expect at the CBG in late September, but it was just as beautiful as in the spring!

    Lisa, I love Japanese gardens--I really ought to visit the one on campus more often. The ex-poppy field was just gorgeous.

    Beckie, I had so much fun, too; the trip was made so much more enjoyable because you went along. I don't remember who is who either:)

    Gail, I do hope the aster comes back next year, although I have a mysterious pink one that could be the one you gave me. I have a hard time telling all these asters apart:)

    Racquel, It was hard for me to just choose a few photos. But the gardening friends I was with was what made this trip so much fun.

    Tina, The last time I was there I think we had 2 hours before we had to get back on the bus. Having nearly a full day to tour it sure made a difference!

    Songbird, September definitely has been an eventful month around here. I've seen the Japanese anemone in other gardens before this, so I had already made up my mind I wanted some. Thanks for the "blesses" and sweet comment.

    Sweetbay, The CBG really is an amazing place. Thanks for the i.d. on the vitex--I've been busy and haven't checked it out properly yet. When I googled it, I kept getting sites for herbal remedies:)

    Rosey, Visiting colleges is a happy/sad kind of occasion. I hope you're getting to go along with your daughter. The 'Bon bon' cosmos did so well for me last year, so I was really disappointed when they didn't do much of anything this year.

    Maggie, Thanks, Maggie! I don't get to see all the beautiful rivers and streams you do, but I do get to visit some lovely gardens.

    Liz, the company was the best part of the trip!

    Morning Glories, I wish I knew what those morning glories were--and yes, I wish I could have found some seeds about to fall:)

  15. Dear Rose,
    Your September was filled with wonderful friends. This garden seems to go on and on...gorgeous plantings.

  16. Gorgeous garden! Wish I can visit there someday and see those beautiful flowers personally. Anyway, thanks for sharing this post. Looking forward for your next post.


  17. Yea for Thelma & Louise! A lovely post, Rose. How fun not only for the road trip but to meet other delightful bloggers. Because we live near, I've had the joy of meeting Monica ... now Thelma & Louise, well I'd be in awe and ask for your autograph!

  18. Hi Rose, thanks for writing this blog entry because I'll probably never get around to it, lol. It was fun seeing everyone again and I love the garden. I find I didn't take as many photos this time partly because of the company (a good thing) and because I guess I already have so many! I do love the Joe Pye sign and I didn't notice that at ALL, ha! Now that you're such a dab hand at navigating Chicago, maybe you want to meet us again in December at the German Xmas market?! I plan on coming with two (non-gardening, gasp!) friends.

  19. Hi, Rose! Thanks for posting that photo of our little group. It was so much fun hanging out with you gals that day and poking at all the plants! I wish the weather had been a little more cooperative but at least Monica held the rain off for us :) I wish someone had IDed that pink and white flower; still drives me nuts that I don't know what it is!

  20. What a wonderful time you girls must of had. Enjoyed seeing all those beautiful blooms.

    Rose I think the unidentified plant you questioned is a Vitex chaste tree. Did it have a fragrance?

    It's a tree that gets about 20 feet tall. Deciduous and we cut them back in the winter.

  21. Rose that was wonderfully described and the pictures were perfect too !
    It would be so fun to meet up with fellow gardeners/bloggers like that and to see all these gorgeous plants would be wonderful .. I am loving a lot of them too for my garden as well! .. I have totally given up on Moon Flowers though .. 4 years of trying is enough for me! LOL
    Great post but I am not sure who is who in the main picture ?
    Joy : )

  22. How jealous would you like me to be, Rose... because I can go all the way up to 11 for this post!

    It's lovely to see one of my favorite places in the whole world (that I haven't been to since 1998) visited by a wonderful group of women that everyone wishes they knew, and how lucky you had the Good Weather Faerie along ;-]

    This looks like an especially beautiful time to go to the Chicago Botanical Gardens since the summer plants are still flowering to overlap with early fall lovelies like Japanese Anemone.

    Could that plumy pink plant be a tall annual amaranthus? It looks like some we've seen on garden tours in Austin.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  23. beautiful photos, i really like the one of the waterfall. so peaceful :)

  24. Wow and wow and wow!! Such stunning photography and the gardens look fabulous. I'd love to visit the water garden and all the rest, actually.

    FYI - I certainly could not bring myself to cook lobster! That was take-out and just for the adults. The children were too young to have shellfish (worried about allergies). They had chicken and veggies.

  25. Sherry, I would love to have just an eensy-weensy bit of Chibot in my own garden:)

    Flower Delivery, Thanks! Um,.. are you a person?

    Joey, Maybe we can all meet up in the middle of Michigan one day! Beckie & I have called ourselves Thelma and Louise ever since you gave us that moniker:)

    Monica, I didn't take as many photos as I usually do either--I think we were too busy chatting. The German fest sounds like fun--as long as it's not snowy or icy:)

    Diane, I had such a good time, too. So glad you were able to make it. I'm still looking for the name of that pink and white plant--Annie says maybe it's a type of amaranthus, so I'll have to check that out.

    Susie, I keep looking at photos of the Vitex on different sites, but I wish I had taken a better photo myself for comparison.

  26. Joy, I should have identified everyone--Back, l to r--Diane, Linda, Monica, and me. Front, Beckie. We were going to take more group photos, but got lost in plant talk:)

    Annie, I wish you could have met us in Chicago! Wouldn't that be fun?! I was surprised at how lovely everything still looked at this time of year. Thanks for the suggestion on the amaranthus; I'll see if I can check that out.

    Rachel, I love the waterfall, too; I'd love to have a small one in my garden.

    Wendy, This is definitely a beautiful place to visit. And I did realize that was take-out lobster:) I guess I'm a hypocrite--I'll eat meat as long as I don't have to think about where it came from.

  27. It was wonderful visiting CBG with you, Beckie, Monica, and Diane, Rose! I didn't take as many photos as usual either, being too busy enjoying everyone's company and the garden.

    I checked our local nursery, and they still had a few curry plants left. Of course, I had to get one, and of course I can't resist touching it. :)

    So glad that Thelma and Louise made the trek up north!

  28. Oh that display of flowers looks like natural growth, that's what i thought before you said it was just placed there! Awesome exhibit. The plants and photos are beautiful but i was excited to see that blue-streaked morning glory!

  29. Wow - What a wonderful trip, and visit with sister bloggers. A beautiful garden and lots of great talk. No better combo.

  30. Rose, maybe the pink plumy flower is Feathered Amaranth - one of the cultivars of Celosia?


  31. Oh' that flower was so cool! This is the first time I saw like that. Anyway, thanks for sharing this post. I enjoyed reading it.


  32. That's funny I have almost the exact same pics on a few of these. I loved our visit. Glad you reminded me of this post. Chicago rocks!

  33. Hi Rose! I came across this post looking at images of prairie dropseed grass. I enjoyed seeing all the other pics here, too. I am so longing for spring to get here!

    I just put an order in for a number of plants native to our area from Prairie Moon Nursery. I haven't ordered plants online for a very long time. It seemed like a good deal to order one of their mix an match trays. They won't arrive until May. I have 6 prairie dropseeds coming.

    I hope you are doing well.


Thanks for stopping by. I love to hear from you, so please leave a comment. I'll try to reply here, but I'll definitely return the visit.