Tag Archive | Chicago Botanic Garden

Walking Squares – At The Chicago Botanic Garden

I do a considerable amount of walking during the course of the year, at places like the Chicago Botanic Gardens, and combining this exercise with the pleasure of photography makes the walk even more enjoyable. It’s good to see Becky’s Square Photo Challenge back again. Thank you for continuing to host this unique challenge, Becky!

It occurs to me that some of these shots might fit the bill for Jez’s Water, Water Everywhere Challenge too. And we might even Pull Up A Seat or two with XingfuMama.

Last year, I wrote a piece called Thoughts on Walking. It was on one of my other blogs that I rarely use so it didn’t get much notice. If you didn’t already see it and have the time and the inclination to read it, I would be thrilled.

In Search Of Dahlias

The last time I was at the Chicago Botanic Garden, I discovered a nice collection of dahlias. They are one of my favorite garden flowers with such a variety of colors and shapes.

I know I left it a bit late in the year to go looking, but I was trying to think where else I’d seen such lovely flowers. The answer was our local conservatory at Friendship Park.

You need plenty of space to grow dahlias effectively and my garden is so full of flowers and plants of all kinds that they nearly always get crowded out, but still I like to try and grow at least a couple. Once again they were pushed aside, this time by the Brazilian blue sage but not before one of them managed to put out some beautiful blooms. This one is called Caribbean Fantasy.

Bonsai

There aren’t too many areas in the Chicago Botanic Garden that I haven’t included in many of the posts here, but I’m fairly confident that this is a first for the Bonsai Collection. There are nearly 300 specimens in the Garden’s collection and many are featured in a display that fills two courtyards.

The collection is made up mostly from donations including 19 imported from Japan by bonsai master Susumu Nakamura. This amazing display can be viewed at the Garden from mid-April to early November.

I’ve always been fascinated by miniatures, mostly in the form of doll houses, so these are especially appealing to me. But considering how long they take to cultivate, I’m not sure that it would be something I would want to take up as a hobby, other than maybe just collecting them.

Most of the trees on display are from 50 to 100 years old, but the one pictured below is considered to be 600 to 1000 years old. This pine tree was collected in the Rocky Mountains.

The Last Rose Of Summer – A Tribute To The Queen

I was feeling in sombre mood when I visited the Rose Garden at the Chicago Botanic Garden yesterday. I’d been watching, via the BBC website, the Queen’s procession from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall and wishing that I could have been there to say a final farewell. I had already planned this visit to the Garden so I thought I’d see it through and I must admit, the sight of so many lovely roses still in bloom, lifted my spirits.

I clearly remember seeing the Queen’s coronation on a TV newly acquired by my Aunt for the occasion, my first introduction to the ‘goggle box.’ Even then, at six-years-old, I was aware of the pomp and ceremony that surrounded Her Majesty. I’d been given a coronation mug at school and my parents had bought me a miniature coronation carriage so I knew something big was happening. After that, I got to see the Queen twice in person during the years that I lived in the UK. Only brief glimpses admittedly, but none the less awe-inspiring. Since then, I have admired her from afar.

In loving memory of Queen Elizabeth II. What a remarkable woman she was!

Garden Science

While I was visiting the Evaluation Gardens at the Chicago Botanic Garden a couple of weeks ago, I stopped in at the Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Plant Conservation Science Center.

The Center provides laboratories and teaching facilities for more than 200 Ph.D. scientists, land managers, students and interns. It is also home to a doctoral program in plant biology and conservation with Northwestern University. The Center covers 38,000 square feet and a viewing gallery is open to the public.

A stairway leads to the second floor where a 16,000 square foot Green Roof Garden is also open to the public. From here you get a good view of the nurseries where they are preparing hundreds of plants for autumn planting and displays.

Evaluation

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.

The Botanic Garden Up Close

This year, the Chicago Botanic Garden is celebrating its 50th Anniversary. I have been visiting the Garden for almost that many years and have been a member for a good many of those. And for the past eleven years I have included posts featuring the Garden here on WordPress.

Naturally, many of the pictures are of flowers, although with most posts I have tried, not always successfully, to stick to a single theme, be it color, season or one particular area of the Garden. This time I’d like to present my close-up view of the Garden.

There are 12 featured areas in the Garden which include:- Bulb, Circle, Crescent, Enabling, English Walled Garden, Evening Island, Fruit and Vegetable Garden, Heritage, Japanese, Native Plant, Rose and Sensory Gardens. Each one of these is beautifully set out and maintained with a colorful array of flowers and plants.

But the Garden is about so much more than just the flowers. It’s about the buildings and bridges, the statuary and structures such as the bell tower and its ‘command center’ hidden among the treetops.

There are also three natural areas in the Garden including:- McDonald Woods, the Prairie and the Nature Reserve. So let’s not forget the wildlife. The larger birds are easy to spot, but the smaller ones like the mother hummingbird with her baby in its nest are not quite so easy to find. And watch out for the giant fish lurking underneath the Serpentine Bridge by Evening Island.

This probably won’t be my last post on the Chicago Botanic Garden this year, but I will certainly endeavor to come up with a fresh angle and new pictures in future features.

Butterflies Galore!

There may be a shortage of them in our gardens, but one place you can be sure to see lots of beautiful butterflies is at the Butterflies & Blooms exhibition at the Chicago Botanic Garden. There is something magical about these little gems as they flutter around, sometimes landing on a shoulder or a hat. But, be careful where you step. They are everywhere!

As well as butterflies that are native to Illinois, there are also species from South America, Asia, North America and Africa, with such enchanting names as Julia Longwings, Starry Crackers and Paper Kites. The Garden staff are very vigilant in their effort to make sure none of these beauties escape. Food and drink are not allowed in the exhibition and purses must be securely fastened.

As someone else who was there, said, “This is the best exhibition of its kind that I’ve ever seen!” And I would have to agree. This was my second visit this year, and I hope to take at least one more look. Entrance to the 2,800 sq ft enclosure is free with admission to the garden and opens at 10am every morning during the summer months.

An Interesting Development

You may remember that I mentioned some art installations at the Chicago Botanic Garden a few weeks ago. These are in celebration of the Garden’s 50th Anniversary and although they are small in number they are quite impressive.

To my mind, the most interesting piece is a creation called ‘The Rookery’. Designed by Patrick Dougherty and made from willow saplings, it stands in an open space where they usually hold the kite festival, and is open for all to explore. And there has been an interesting development. Since the last time I was at the garden a few weeks ago, ‘The Rookery’ has sprouted. It is a living display of creative art. It will be interesting to see what it looks like weeks from now, after we finally get some much needed rain.