Thursday, March 15, 2012

March Bloom Day

Like much of the country, it feels more like late spring or early summer here than the waning days of winter in mid-March.  It looks like daffodils will open very soon, maybe even later today.  They usually wait until April.

Snowdrops have been blooming for over a week.

Helleborus niger seems to be a slow grower.  It bloomed last spring for the first time, with just one flower.  I thought there might be more this year, but again, there's just one.

This hellebore is "Brushstrokes" strain  It was the first hellebore in our garden.  It was so big last year I divided it, and donated the divisions to our garden club plant sale last June.  The divisions never made it to the sale table.  As I walked into the room with them, people snapped them up immediately, before they'd even been priced.

Indoors, our Thanksgiving cactus, Schlumbergera truncata is reblooming.  It bloomed in November and December, and had buds all winter.  The buds all fell off before they opened until this month when several have held on and opened.  There are still quite a few more buds left.  This is the first time it's rebloomed, hopefully not the last.

Happy (very early) Spring everyone!  For more Bloom Day posts, please visit Carol at May Dreams Gardens.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Chicago Flower & Garden Show

The Chicago Flower & Garden Show opened this weekend, and runs through next Sunday, March 18th.  This year's "Hort Couture" theme was playfully executed in flowers, fabrics, and furnishings throughout the exhibition hall.  

One of the more impressive shows in recent years, there was lots of eye candy, including this spectacular, 14-foot tall 1,100 pound galvanized steel and blown glass agapanthus sculpture in the "Making an Entrance" garden.  A creation of United Kingdom artist blacksmith Jenny Pickford, the sculpture was shipped from London where it had previously been used at the 2011 Chelsea Flower Show.

more art glass in the garden

The scent of hyacinths filled the air.

One of the best uses for silver maples I've ever seen, ;) this pergola was one of my all-time favorite Garden Show displays.  

The White House vegetable gardens have inspired novice and experienced gardeners all over the country, and home vegetable gardening is experiencing a renaissance after many years of decline.  Seed houses and nurseries have ramped up production trying to keep up with the unprecedented demand for vegetable seeds and starts.  

This display garden is a salute to the White House's 1,100-square-foot organic kitchen garden.  

As in recent  years, vegetables are once again playing prominent roles in many of the display gardens, demonstrating not only their usefulness, but also their beauty, and the roles they can play even in ornamental containers and gardens.

I loved the use of paint stirrers as plant markers.

Inspired by the New Orleans French Quarter, the Fleur-de-Lis was one of my favorite display gardens.

An eclectic mix of old-world charm and high fashion, un coup de chapeau to designers Christopher Holmstrom and Elizabeth Barnard.

"Front Yard Food `a la Francais" is Growing Power's creation, showing how food gardening can be not only practical, but beautiful as well.  I love how they incorporated logs into this design, and I really liked the 2"x4" plant markers.  This garden was rustic, lush, beautiful, and delicious.

And what would Chicago's garden show be without the over-the-top tablescapes!

What?  This is a tablescape???  Of course, silly . . . it's breakfast in bed!

"Project Someday" is this year's display designed by students at the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences.  I look forward to their gardens every year.

In fact, I think this just might be their best one yet.

The Ag. School's gardens always have a touch of whimsy.

I was very impressed with the kids this year.

It was a full day, capped off by The Great Chicago Seed Swap organized by Mr. BrownThumb, and manned (womened) by a group of volunteers including yours truly.  The swap was a lot of fun, and although I forgot my seeds at home, because I worked I was still able to pick several things to try including veggies, and  packets of downy skullcap and willow-leaf amsonia from the Lurie Garden.

Besides all the wonderful display gardens, the Chicago Flower & Garden Show hosts events and activities including potting parties, floral design and  hands-on garden-skills demonstrations, activities for kids, shopping , cooking demonstrations, and a full schedule of free talks on a variety of gardening subjects given by expert garden speakers every day.  

For more information, including a complete schedule of events, and to order discounted tickets, visit the show's website at