Wednesday morning found me at the Chicago Botanic Garden, crossing the Trellis Bridge to the Evaluation Gardens. I don’t very often visit the far side of the Garden but on this occasion I was in for a very pleasant surprise.
This is the part of the Garden where they evaluate plants to see how well they do in our extremely unforgiving climate, with bitterly cold winters and broiling hot summers, droughts and deluges and temperatures that can change by as much as 30 degrees in a matter of hours. Here, they are checking out old favorites like hibiscus, aliums and butterfly bushes. I did find it interesting to note that the many monarch butterflies that were about seemed to prefer the yellow cup plant to the purple blooms of the buddleja.
The Mitsuzo and Kyoko Shida Evaluation Garden, a new part of the Evaluation Gardens, has only been open for about a year and this was in the nature of an exploration for me as I followed the perimeter road. At the beginning of the garden, on either side of the road, are some lovely seating areas where they are testing out different varieties of clematis.
I took the gravel path nearest to the lake, past beds where they are evaluating various varieties of hydrangeas and Crepe Myrtle. It is very peaceful here as not many people seem to have discovered this new area yet.
Following the path, I came to a tunnel that will soon be covered by crabapple trees. Inside, it was lined with what appeared to be some kind of aster plant. At the end of this tunnel was another pleasant seating area.
Crossing over the road, I headed back in the opposite direction, through another tunnel of crabapples that culminated in yet another quiet seating area.
On this side of the road are the huge nursery greenhouses where most of the Garden’s plants have their beginnings. I must sign up to take a members-only tour of these greenhouses. It should be very interesting to see how things operate in there.
But of more immediate interest were the plantings on the other side of the tunnel. Bed after bed of colorful zinnias, cornflowers and cosmos, interspersed with roses and tall grasses, were so beautiful I found it difficult to tear myself away from them.
You can bet I will be heading back to this part of the garden very soon.