Thursday, June 11, 2009

June: Spring Fling Chicago - The rest of the story

Garden Bloggers' Spring Fling is well in the rearview mirror by now, but here at last is my take on the event. As a Chicagoan I relish any opportunity to show off my city to visitors, share what I know, learn something new, and clear up misconceptions about what life is like in an urban center. I hope everyone came away with a new appreciation for life in the city; it's not all Asphalt Jungle (thought we certainly have our share of that, too!).

Chicago Botanic Garden - I skipped this because I had to work, and thus I missed that amazing poppy field. Darn!

Lurie Garden - I met up with the group here and was desperately nervous about attempting to locate and interact with a large group of people I didn't know. I should not have worried; what a wonderful bunch of people! Also: the nametags were infinitely useful.

I showed two pics of Lurie, past and present, in a previous blog post. Here are a couple more pictures:

After the garden, I had a tasty dinner at Elephant & Castle, received a very generous bag of goodies, continued to meet people, panicked about the prospect of winning the gigantic tiller (it was a fabulous giveaway but really what would I do with it?!), and had Jane Smith sign my copy of her book.

And then...and THEN... well, I think I received the best giveaway of all, but that story deserves its own post, here.

Saturday was a real smorgasbord of sights and activities.
HAHAHA ahem.

I did not go to the Bayless garden since I am not an edible gardener myself; however, all reports are that it was an impressive production. Easy to be impressive when you have a full-time gardener, right? But what if you are your own gardener? Enter Carolyn, who so kindly invited us to eat a yummy lunch at her neighborhood hangout Andie's, then invade her home and garden, poking our nosy noses into every corner and asking questions about everything we saw. Carolyn, if my husband and I had seen your house before renovating our own, ours would likely have turned out very differently! Your windows.... woodwork... basement renovation... color choices for every room... everything was perfect and worked together so nicely. I'm kind of an old house nut and seeing what Carolyn and her husband accomplished was a wonderful treat.

But! the garden was the reason we were there, right??

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I need to borrow a few of these ideas for my own yard, which is about the same size. I adore the pergola especially. At Carolyn's we also received a nice pink petunia as a sponsor gift:


From Carolyn's we moved on to Ginkgo Community Garden, where I like a ninny did not take any pictures. I apologize for being amused by the following overheard conversation (paraphrased):
"I wonder what they're trying to keep out with all that chicken wire?"
"Probably rats."
"Oh, right, rats!"
Let me tell you, the rabbits in Chicago are legion. And they're big. And they eat everything. Okay, yes, there are rats as well, but they mostly eat junk food, not veggies. I tried to convince people that we also have coyotes in the city, but I'm not sure they believed me. I didn't even try to tell about the deer in my alley, the possums in my yard, or the cougar. Nature in the city is a topic that must be introduced in stages.

Also outside Ginkgo I had the opportunity to introduce several people to basswood trees, the topic of my dissertation. This gave me much joy so thank you for humoring me :)

Next up, and the day is barely half over: Lincoln Park!

The Conservatory:
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And the zoo!
The warthog says, "I'm as pretty as any of those girly flowers. Hmph."

Oh my gosh, is this day still going on?? Not having time to go home and get back before dinner, I walked to State Street with Ani and Monica where we gabbed and checked out the clothes at Old Navy. And then: pizza! and meeting even more friendly people. And finally: an exhausted ride home on the "L".

We're not done yet! I think the Garfield Park Conservatory is my favorite place in the city and it's my own fault I don't go more often. I'm just nuts for houseplants, plus they have stunning outdoor gardens. I bought a book about the history of Garfield Park, which is fascinating. It's a premier example of how much effort is required to design, install, and maintain a public space over the long term, even one filled with "nature".

The view from my car, directly under the Central Park "L" stop; back door of Conservatory.
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Palm House and Fern Room:
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Desert House:
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Am I the only one amused by the installation of carnivorous plants in the Children's Room?
They look well-fed, don't they?

Outside, in the Monet Garden:
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And the City Garden:
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And then - tired but happy, I finally went home for good. Thank you all for such a fantastic weekend, and for giving me a chance to see my city through new eyes!


Cathy S. said...

I see you liked my mom's house and garden, I really did miss out on meeting you and Kylee from our little acre. Maybe one day when Rick bayless
invites us to his garden you can come too, he is my husband's friend.

Monica the Garden Faerie said...

I purposefully made the fonts extra big ont he name tags so old fogies like me can read them easily! :) Love your photos.

Christopher C. NC said...

Hi Diane. Ani and I really enjoyed meeting you and spending time touring together. After I get over my intial shock, I do enjoy the big city. For me it is just such a dramatic change. We both had such a good time in Chicago and only scratched the surface.

Now I have no problem believing rabbits, deer, coyotes, rats, mice, possum, raccoons, ect, ect, ect living just fine in the city, but a cougar. They can't even find one in the Smoky Mountain National Park. That you'll need to prove.

You took some great pictures.

Holler if you come to my neck of the woods hunting for Basswood. I'd be happy to be your collecting assistant.

Pam/Digging said...

I really like your pics from the Garfield Conservatory, Diane. How did I miss that terracotta wall and the back door? Lovely.