The theme for this year's show is "The Sport of Gardening," and exhibitors interpreted this theme in many different ways from the obvious to the much more subtle tie-in to sports.
In case you missed the entrance sign, the display below made sure you understood the theme with a bust of one of Chicagoland's sports icons, Harry Caray.
This exhibit featured memorabilia from most of Chicago's professional sports teams. The plantscape wasn't anything special, but this Cubs and Bears fan appreciated the nod to our favorite teams nonetheless.
Anyone for a game of croquet? This year's croquet lawn seemed more suited to Gulliver in the land of Brobdingnag, and the giant balls of orchids more lovely than Alice's hedgehogs.
Another obvious salute to sports was in "One Goal, One Garden," which included a water feature resembling a hockey rink. It looked difficult to walk through, so I think I missed many of the plantings here and instead checked them out through the unusual hockey stick fence.
Water features seemed to be very popular this year with ponds and waterfalls in several of the exhibits.
This pond even featured its own blooming island, which I thought was unique.
Of course, there were all kinds of fountains, too, including this very clever mushroom grouping. As you can see, I wasn't the only one who thought this was clever as Monica and Lisa stop to admire it, too.
One pond featured not only large koi, but two turtles as well. In fact, wildlife seemed to be as popular in many of the displays as the plants and hardscapes themselves.
At least two exhibits included a chicken coop complete with live chickens. There was also a beehive next to one of the coops.
In the kids' corner, there were all kinds of activities sponsored by Chicago Master Gardeners, including a Bug Zoo. A few of the "kids" in our group decided to display their fearlessness by holding a tarantula, cockroach, and a giant millipede. There's a reason this photo is so blurry--no, Diane's hands weren't shaking, mine were as I took the photo. I backed out of this area as quickly as possible after taking a few shots; thank goodness, the millipedes I sometimes find at home don't look like this, or I probably would give up gardening!
Much more to my liking was the raptor exhibit which featured this Barred Owl, along with an American Kestrel and a Great Horned Owl. Isn't he beautiful? This was part of a garden exhibit, but honestly I don't remember looking at the plants at all, as I jockeyed for position to get a closer look at these magnificent birds.
There were other exhibits as well that were more than just plants, including a fantastic collection of millinery in "Hats: Wise Women Speak." This leafy creation would make a great gardening hat, don't you think?
More high fashion, this glowing hat seemed to catch everyone's eye. There was a description for each hat, and this one's explained what created the glow, but I'm afraid I quickly forget technical explanations. As unique as the hat is, it probably wouldn't be a good choice to wear to the theater . . . unless there's a way to turn it off:)
We also enjoyed the photography exhibit, where we were excited to find a few entries by our own Mr. McGregor's Daughter! This was not her ribbon-winning photo, but all of her entries were prize-worthy, in my humble opinion.
Ah, but what about the plants, you say; after all, this is a show all about gardening. While I didn't think there were as many elaborate displays as in past years nor as many different varieties of plants, still there was enough to get any gardener excited for the season to begin. I've never had much luck with snapdragons, but these bicolor beauties (no label, unfortunately) might change my mind.
An exhibit showing possibilities for vertical gardening along with others on harvesting rainwater and using native plants for an environmentally friendly home garden were relevant examples for today's gardener.
Of the larger exhibits, my favorite was probably "Silent Poetry: The Confluence of Stone and Plants," which combined conifers from Rich's Foxwillow Pines with a variety of other plant material and sculptures from Zimbabwe. I have no idea how this relates to the theme of sports, but no matter. It was a beautiful combination of materials that reminded me of elements in Japanese and Chinese gardens.
But my favorite display of all was actually rather small and simple in comparison to the others. This mass planting of tulips was the "wow" factor I was looking for and made me wish I had planted 10 times the number of tulip bulbs I did last fall.
Notes have been made for new additions here this fall--I think these were created just for me:)
I also will definitely be ordering some 'Ad Rem Beauty' tulips for next year. My camera could not capture the true color of these tulips, but they were shades of coral, peach, pink, and a hint of yellow all in one gorgeous bloom.
|L to R: Diane, Rose, Monica, Lisa, Beckie, and Linda|
The afternoon at the Flower and Garden Show went all too quickly, and I realized afterward that I had missed a few parts of the show, probably because I was talking too much. But the company of fellow bloggers was just as enjoyable as the show itself.
This is the third year that Beckie and I have attended, and we've come a long way since the first year when we got lost coming out of Millenium Station and wandered some strange back alleys trying to find Michigan Avenue. Still, there is always something new to see and something new to learn. Among the tips I learned this year:
1. The producers of this show consider even this humble blogger worthy of an official press pass. (Thanks, Linda, for helping us with this!)
2. Sundays are probably the busiest days for the show--go on a weekday, if you can. Still, the crowds were not that bad.
3. Taxi fare from the train station to Navy Pier is actually very reasonable and certainly beats standing out on a windy, cold corner waiting for a bus for 30 minutes!
The Chicago show runs through this Sunday, so you still have time to attend. If you can't make it this year and are within driving distance of Chicago, I would definitely make plans for next year's show. It's the perfect respite from a long Midwest winter.
I realized as I was finishing this post that today is my third blogaversary! It's been such a joy to share gardening experiences with all of you these past three years. Whether I've met you in person or just through our exchanges here in Blogland, it's been a delight to meet each and every one of you. Thank you for visiting!