Back in our garden, although I may have moaned about it at the time, the copious amounts of rain that we received earlier in the Spring really paid off. Everything has grown splendidly, and the flowers are looking even lovelier than ever. Mother Nature really knows how to put on a show!

Of course, these two visitors didn’t mind the rain and were so bold, they were practically knocking on the back door, waiting for me to come out and feed them.

Although it can be hard work at times, the garden has been a constant blessing. Right now, the poppies are popping, and the irises are looking radiant. Luckily, the peonies are not all blooming at the same time so we can enjoy their fragrance for a longer period of time.

The growing season is so short here in Chicago, but we manage to pack a lot into that time. Still to come are day lilies, oriental lilies, blue Brazilian sage (great for attracting hummingbirds,) dahlias (hopefully,) zinnias, cosmos and much more.

Gathering Lilacs

Last week I made my annual pilgrimage to Lilacia Park in Lombard. The timing is always a bit ‘hit or miss’ on these trips. Will the lilacs be in full bloom? Will the tulips still be as colorful? I usually go by the small lilac bush in my garden, so when it looks like it’s almost at its peak, that’s when I head for Lilacia Park.

That wonderful lilac perfume greets you at the entrance and beckons you in, and although many of the tulips had started to fade and droop, there were still plenty to make a stunning display, while the lilacs were simply gorgeous.

I’m always reminded of that old song “We’ll Gather Lilacs” by Ivor Novello when I visit Lilacia Park, although it bears little resemblance to an English lane. Still, the sentiment is there.

The park is a comparatively small one, but the layout is cleverly arranged to maximize the effect of the flowers and shrubs, with paths that wind back and forth among the lawns and flower beds. And there were plenty of people to admire the scenery.

Garden Mystery Solved

The prime reason for my trip to the Chicago Botanic Garden this week was to solve a mystery that had been bugging me ever since my last visit, but more on that later. Needless to say, I got sidetracked by all the beautiful scenery and colorful flowers.

As to the mystery, you may remember, if you read my earlier post, that a strange structure had sprung up in one of the open spaces in the garden. This turned out to be an art installation, one of several, that will help to celebrate the Garden’s 50th Anniversary this year. As I mentioned before, they rarely have outdoor art exhibits, the garden itself being enough to please the eye without further embellishments but I’m looking forward to seeing the completed project and will share more pictures in future Garden posts.

Heat Wave

Our mini heatwave lasted all of one day. Typical Chicago weather! One day in the 80’s and the next in the 30’s, so I’m glad I took the opportunity to visit the Botanic Garden when I did.

Spring has definitely sprung at the Garden with golden drifts of daffodils at every turn, while in the English Garden they had a delightful display of diminutive irises.

At a time when there are so many yellow flowers blooming, the purple ones always stand out in the crowd. My favorite color!

Over in the field where they usually hold the summer kite festival, an interesting structure appears to have sprung up. I’m not sure if it’s something left over from a previous display, there was no sign indicating what it was, or if it’s part of a new exhibit, but it certainly caught everyone’s attention.

First Look

On Thursday the weather warmed up and stayed dry long enough for me to take my first trip of the year to Spring Valley Nature Center in Schaumburg. Everybody and their brother seemed to have the same idea but luckily most of the activity was centered around the children’s play area. Over by the lake things were a little more peaceful.

Although I could hear several frogs gently burping in the background, they were well hidden, but I did spot a lone turtle sunning itself on a log near the water’s edge. And apparently, I wasn’t the only one taking an interest in the lake. I came across two ladies, each with a different perspective, putting paint to canvas.

Over at the farm things appeared to be getting started again with the arrival of a new litter of piglets. There was a lot of squealing and grunting going on around the feed bins as they pushed and shoved each other, while one satisfied the urge to scratch, and another gave me quite the look as I leaned over the fence to take a few shots. (Nothing bland about this pigling.)

As the piglets retired to their shed for a snooze, I took the long walk back to the parking lot. It was nice to see so many signs of spring and hear the birds singing. I noticed that they are clearing away a lot of the tangled undergrowth in order to give the native plants a chance to flourish so it will be interesting to see what develops and whether it will attract more wildlife as they seem to think.

One Last Look

It was supposed to be sunny on Friday but instead we got more rain. I’d already made up my mind to visit the Chicago Botanic Garden to take one last look at the Orchid Show and didn’t want to change my plans so off I went.

The show was due to close on Sunday, and it seemed as though everyone had the same idea, to get one more glimpse of those beautiful blooms. I noticed that there were several other plants that were blooming in the greenhouses so I may go back in a week or so, when the orchids are removed, to take a closer look.

As it was, the orchids still took center stage and a second look revealed more and more amazing aspects of these spectacular flowers.

The place was packed, so much so that after an hour of walking around the show taking pictures, I was glad to get out into the fresh air and since there was a brief lull in the rain, I decided to take a walk up to the bell tower.

The lawn in front of the tower was carpeted with crocus. All they need is a little sun to encourage them to open up.

And it looked like they were re-paving the seating area at the base of the tower, one of the many improvements that the Garden is undertaking this year.

A Spectacular Show

My first trip to the Chicago Botanic Garden this year was to the Orchid Show yesterday. As always, they put on a spectacular show of colorful blooms and even though there was still snow on the ground outside, in the greenhouses it seemed very springlike.

Things are never dull at the Garden. There’s always something in the works and this year is no exception. They are planning on building a new Welcome Plaza, due to open this Fall, so things were a little different at the entrance, with much of the area fenced off due to construction. It will be interesting to see how it develops. They have also started the new policy of charging for admission as well as the usual parking fee so be prepared if you decide to visit. The ‘Untamed’ Orchid Show runs through March 27 and is well worth a look. I spent two hours in there, taking pictures, and look forward to a return visit with some of the family.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Memorable Events

This week, Ann-Christine has suggested Memorable Events as the topic for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. This is usually the time of year when I have a hard time coming up with fresh material so it’s nice to be able to go back into the photo files for this one, although I still prefer to share images that haven’t been used before. It’s always satisfying to know that a day’s shooting has been reasonably successful and last year I had some memorable moments at Brookfield Zoo when I was fairly confident that I’d come away with at least a few good shots.

During much of the pandemic, the gorilla enclosure had been closed so I cheated a bit with the first shot, capturing instead an image of the new statue that had just been installed near the entrance.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Double Dipping

This week, Tina has suggested that we try Double Dipping for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. I take up where I left off last year, at the Anderson Japanese Gardens in Rockford. I had intended to use these images for Jez’s Water, Water Everywhere challenge, so this seems like the perfect opportunity to double dip.

Like the Chicago Botanic Garden, the Anderson Garden is designed around its many water features which include everything from gushing waterfalls and large koi-filled ponds to meandering streams and secluded spots where the sound of water trickles from bamboo fountains.

There is plenty of wildlife to see, in, on and around the water. The koi are easily persuaded to rise to the surface with a handful of special food purchased at the Visitors Center.