Thursday, March 31, 2011

New juniors!

The Junior Acquisitions Department has been on hiatus while McGarden Enterprises, Inc. took a few months to ponder life and get its mojo back. Well, the mojo is back, baby! As VP of the JAD, I took the corporate credit card and went on a spree. We lost a few juniors through, um, attrition, and had empty spaces that needed to be filled...

At the Chicago Flower and Garden Show, I stocked up at the Ted's Greenhouse booth as usual. The Adenium obesum I wanted so desperately was nowhere to be found, but I comforted myself with these cuties:
Crassula perfoliata subsp. falcata (propeller plant), Euphorbia mammilaris variegata (corncob plant), Trichodiadema densum (miniature desert rose), Crassula 'Springtime'

I also bought a new African violet:
I usually get my violets on the cheap at places like Home Despot but have had bad luck with them lately, so I shelled out the dough for a plant that had been taken care of by someone who gave a crap.

Finally, at last weekend's orchid show at the Chicago Botanic Garden, I bought the prettiest orange orchid with the most ridiculous name: Potinara Love Passion 'Long Vacation'.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Orchid Show at the Chicago Botanic Garden

I went to my first orchid show today, the spring show and sale of the Illinois Orchid Society. I've never been wild about orchids but I find that the more I see them, the more they grow on me. (Because they're epiphytes! Get it?) Plus, it is always fun to spend time with serious plant geeks.

I had my first up-close look at the (in)famous Blue Mystique phalaenopsis orchid introduced this year. It attracted plenty of attention and photographers, but I was gratified to hear that when customers found out it's artificially colored, they lost interest. Breed me a true-blue and then we'll talk.
I find that I very much like the Paphiopedilum orchids. Unfortunately, I didn't have enough cash to get one of my own. Next year?
I also liked the obscure orchids, including the species orchids, which have not been bred and hybridized into such foofy shapes. This subtle Acianthera chamensis was extremely appealing.
Vanda 'Sansai Blue' and its companions showed off some of the purples orchids can achieve.
The show judged on individual plants and on displays. I liked this collection with a range of warm colors.
Not a great picture, but another genus that appeals to me is Masdevallia.
The marketplace was hopping!
Of course I bought things. I knew after wandering the market that one of the orange cattleya-type orchids would need to go home with me. I browsed until I found just the right color, and ended up with Potinara Love Passion 'Long Vacation.' Potinara is a hybrid of hybrids, in the Cattleya alliance. This one is a lovely rich orange with a touch of red in the throat; in shape it reminds me of a jonquil.
I also bought a Miltassia C. M. Fitch 'Izumi' (Oncidium alliance) off the orchid society's sale table for $5, because I can't resist cheap fixer-uppers. It desperately needed repotting and watering, but a nice person at the orchid society's repotting booth divided it, potted it, and gave me piles of advice. I was told the flowers would be yellow but Google says it will actually be purple/red and spotty and cute in a lanky way. IF it survives!

Finally, I bought a cheap bare-root plant, only because of the name. Meet Miltassia Dark Star 'Darth Vader.'
"I find my lack of soil disturbing."

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

#chiflowertweetup and #chiflowereatup

Hello, friends who are attending the Chicago Flower and Garden Show! Twitter is an awful way to plan anything so let's try it this way. Here is what's happening on March 5:

3 pm: tweetup at the Crystal Garden at Navy Pier

For those who don't know Navy Pier, here is a map:
The Crystal Garden is near the entrance, upper level. I think enough of us can recognize each other that we don't need any big signs or balloons. Just look for a bunch of happy people standing around! From here, groups can move on to the actual show, which is farther down the pier in the Festival Hall.

8-ish pm: some sort of dinner plan!
The show closes at 8 on Saturday, and some folks may want to go back to their hotel between show and dinner. This whole dinner thing has become very complicated so here is my proposal. There are three vegan-friendly restaurants in the neighborhood of Navy Pier and the hotels many people are staying in near Michigan Avenue:
Big Bowl
Grand Lux Cafe
Heaven on Seven
All three are relatively affordable and have a lot of variety so there should be something for everyone. Please look at the menus and tell me in the comments 1) whether you intend to join us for dinner, and 2) if you have a preference for restaurant, and I will call the winning restaurant sometime Wednesday and see if I can get a reservation for 8pm Saturday for a lot of people.

IF it looks like none of the restaurants can accommodate us, we can eat somewhere on Navy Pier. I don't know how busy those restaurants are but there are several, including the very fancy food court! So at least there's a fall-back plan.

May I also request that people coming to dinner bring cash? If the restaurant won't do separate checks, splitting the check is easier with cash.

A note about transportation:
It is forecast to sleet and snow on Saturday. (Welcome to Chicago, haha!) Regardless of the weather, a cab is almost always the best way to get to and from the Pier. If we cram a bunch of people in a cab, getting to the restaurant will not be expensive per person. Parking on the Pier is I believe $14; if you do bring a car, it would be great if you could shuttle some people to dinner or hotel. Parking near the restaurant will be expensive (maybe $20?), regardless of which place we choose. Just a warning. For hardy souls, walking from hotel to Pier or Pier to restaurant is about a half hour, not a big deal unless the weather is awful. Of course there are also buses that go to Navy Pier; that's my plan. Bus info is at

Okay, comment away! And let me know if anyone has better ideas!