Saturday, April 4, 2009

2009 Macy's Flower Show

If you live in the Chicago area, this clock needs no explanation. Encompassing an entire city block bounded by Washington, State, Wabash, and Randolph Streets downtown, is the beautiful, historic Marshall Field's Building, now Chicago's flagship Macy's store.

Macy's invited Chicago-area garden bloggers for a sneak preview of their annual flower show at the State Street store. Accompanied by My Skinny Garden and Mr.Brown Thumb, we were given a private tour of the show by our guides - Macy's Marisa Reeves, Media Relations Manager, and Jon Jones, Visual Director, along with Todd Pope, Branch Manager for Green View in Oswego, IL. Green View Companies, a landscape, nursery, and design group based near Peoria, IL is the floral partner for this year's show. Todd and Jon described some of the work that went on behind the scenes getting the plants ready for the show, and it was absolutely fascinating.

The 2009 show, themed Dream in Color, is free, and runs from Sunday, April 5th through Sunday, April 19th. If you live in the Chicago area, you won't want to miss it.

A large percentage of plants grown for the show will thrive in our zone 5 climate.

Most of the floral displays are located on the first floor on the State Street side of the store - down the main aisle, around the middle fountain, the bridge across from the fountain, in six of the store's windows, and in about every nook and cranny they could find a place for just one more beautiful vignette.

Pink flamingos are a recurring theme, everything from kitchy plastic flamingos in the display in the famous Walnut Room,

to these two amazing flamingos constructed out of 5,000 pink Kalanchoe flowers.

Todd and Jon described the painstaking process, which included individually removing every leaf.

Near the middle fountain, you'll find this table manned by University of Illinois Extension Master Gardeners, partnering again this year with Macy's to take visitors on tours on a first-come, first-served basis every Thursday through Sunday at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m.

Now that the Chicago Garden Show is over, it's time for another flower fix, since little is blooming around here outdoors.

If you've been to Macy's State Street store before, I hope you didn't miss this late-1800's mosaic atrium dome by Louis Comfort Tiffany. If you did, go back and see it! The dome covers 6000 square feet and is the largest Tiffany mosaic in existence.

We got to peek behind the curtain! It was like visiting Oz.

Ah, springtime!

There were flowers as far as the eye could see.

I can hardly wait to plant out those hydrangea cuttings I overwintered in the basement!

We loved this colorful combination of blooms and glass.

More Flamingos! These were amazing, constructed around the beautiful columns in the main aisle.

Thank you Marisa, Todd, and Jon for taking time from your busy schedules to preview the show for us. It was truly awesome getting this behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to put on a show of this magnitude.

If you're in the Chicago area in the next couple of weeks, stop in at Macy's State Street Store, and tell 'em the garden bloggers sent you!


  1. Wow ! Great pictures Linda : ) .. I think I would be overwhelmed seeing a show like that .. I miss the BIG one in Toronto every time .. 6 acreas indoors with awesome plants and designs .. oh well .. I can enjoy pictures in the comfort of my home and pajamas ? LOL

  2. Thank you Joy! This blogging thing has really gotten me out and about visiting public gardens and garden shows.

    I can't believe what I've missed all these years! The Macy's show is just the tonic for bloom-starved gardeners in April in Chicago! It's really beautiful, and very impressive. We were honored to be invited for this sneak-preview!

    Like you I enjoy the virtual tours too in the comfort of home and pjs, with a nice cup of coffee. It's a nice way to start the day.

  3. Hi Linda, what a great and informative entry and such wonderful photos. As you know, I love Chicago but I've never been inside Macy's, not being a big shopper. I didn't realize it was so interesting, esp. for the Tiffany. (Believe it or not, a local library in Ypsilanti (one city over) has a beautiful Tiffany window and I attended a talk about how they restored it--absolutely fascinating!) And I had no idea Macy's had a flower show. I truly truly love the flamingos! In fact that's something missing from my own garden... to me it shows a sense of humor and whimsy, which is often, IMHO, missing from flower shows, and I personally love the color! I'm so glad you, MBT and SG got the chance to see this wonderful display! P.S. Are you one of the MGs giving the tour?!

  4. Good morning Monica, and thank you!

    Even if you're not a big shopper, it's worth a visit to Macy's State Street store to check out the beautiful architecture. Being so easy to get to from the train, maybe we can stop in there for a bit when you're here in May.

    You can even get to Macy's via the pedway right from the Metra Electric station without ever having to go outside - great way to if it's stormy out.

    With all the pink I have in my garden, I was really tempted by the flamingos. (I'm not sure the Lawn Man would appreciate the whimsy - might have to look into that! ;)

    I'm not one of the MG tour guides this year, but now that I know about this I hope to be one next year. This is something I can really get excited about, it's easy to get to, and the timing is perfect, just before business heats up and time gets scarcer.

  5. Wow, it looks like a beautiful display of flowers and plants. My SIL loves flamingoes, I'm going to tell her about this in case she want s to take a trip to Chicago to see it. Thanks for sharing it with us.

    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

  6. Hi Carol! Thanks for visiting! It really is all that and more. Check out Mr.Brown Thumb's post if you haven't already - he got some awesome pictures and views. My Skinny Garden will be posting about the show too. It's fun seeing things from different perspectives.

    Hope you and your SIL get a chance to visit the show!

    Mr.Brown Thumb and I had time to get around the city in the area around Club Quarters and Millennium Park, and have some sneak previews to share. We settled on a great spot for Friday's reception too, and have a room on hold!

  7. Blogging is really getting to have its perks! A sneak peek and private tour is great! And it is all beautiful. I love those hydrangeas too.

  8. No kidding Tina! Being out and about as much as I have been in recent weeks due to Spring Fling, I've met so many great people in and around Chicago, and plugged in to Chicago's gardening network.

    It is an enriching experience. I wouldn't have gotten involved in Spring Fling planning if I hadn't started a blog. I wouldn't have stared a blog if I hadn't decided a couple of years ago to singlemindedly pursue my life-long passion, and since then opportunities continue presenting themselves.

    Glad you enjoyed the show!

  9. Hi Linda, I wonder if the Macy's in NYC put on a show like this..will have to look now! Great pictures, I love the flamingos but why didn't they use large pink carnations rather than teeny. tiny I love those huge blue hydrangeas!

  10. Good morning Lynn, definitely check it out!

    . . . Just went to Macy's website, and the NY show just ended! :( Definitely check it out next year Lynn!

    Carnations might have been easier, but they wouldn't have been able to get those nice slender necks. The texture would have been different too. The kalanchoes made them a lot more interesting to contemplate I think.

    It was really cool getting so much insight into the growing, design, installation, and maintenance processes that went into the show. I suspect the Master Gardener tours will cover some of that too.

  11. Linda--You inspired me with this post so much, I knew I had to see the show for myself. You know how I like to be organized and plan everything way in advance? Well, I just logged into my megabus account and booked a roundtrip journey on Saturday, April 18!!!! Yep, having a more flexible schedule and a cheap way to get there is exciting! I know you were just there and are plenty busy, but in case you want to meet me, I'll probably get to Macy's around noon and need to leave again by 4:00. thank you for helping me live in the moment!! :)

  12. Wow Monica! That's fantastic!

    I'd love to meet up with you. I think you'll really enjoy it, and it will be great fun to hang out with you for an afternoon!

    Have you ever been to the Cultural center? It's really close to Macy's, and talk about architecture. . . !

    Both these buildings are architectural gems, and I think there'd be plenty of time for both. (And if there's still more time, the Lurie's right across the street from the Cultural Center.)
    Carpe Diem!

  13. That's exciting!!!! I'm open to any and all adventures--I love Chicago architecture though I'm not sure where everything is, lol! I recall a lot of really cool buildings on Michigan Ave. across from Millennium Park, but I guess the Cultural Center is on Washington--Googled it and it looks really cool on the inside. Have you been to the Harold Jackson Library? That's pretty cool inside, too!

  14. You can get in to the Cultural Center from Randolph too - the Randolph entrance is about 10 steps away from the Metra Electric station exit, and right across the street from Millennium Park, just on the other side of Michigan Avenue. I haven't been to the Harold Washington library yet, but I'm definitely game. We almost went there yesterday, but we wore ourselves out walking all day long as it was. I'm up for whatever we can fit into 4 hours!

  15. Those pink flamingos are just too funny! (Why am I suddenly thinking of John Waters?) Thanks for the tour. This show is at such a bad time for me, I just can't seem to find time to get down there to see it in person.

  16. MMD, seriously, if the Lawn Man would consent, I'd put a few in the garden here.

    (Macy's, if you're listening, maybe you should find a spot for pink flamingos on the sales floor - toot sweet!)

    I thought they were horrible in the '60's, even worse in the '70's, and now there's something sweetly nostalgic in them to me. I think I'd laugh every time I looked at them. I can't believe I'm even considering it, but I am.

    Since you can't make it in person, I'm glad you came by for the virtual tour!

  17. MMD, I just told him what I was thinking, and his response was the squirrels dig up pink flamingos and drag them away. So, um, I think that might be a no!

  18. This looks so interesting! I have been boycotting the downtown "Macy's" since they chose to ditch the name Marshall Field's. But I might have to lift the boycott to check this out!

  19. Oh Linda, what gorgeous displays. Love the fountains and hydrangeas.I am not a fan of pink flamingo's but can see past them to the wonderful flowers.

  20. After I left you at the train station I went around looking for the farm stand and then went back into Macy's for more pics because I didn't like the ones I took.

    How did your pics from the Lurie turn out? I forgot to change the white balance settings from shooting indoors to outdoors so my pics were all blue.

    I'm going to be around that area on Monday and I'll be honest I feel like "rescuing" that dug up Scilla and the Mugo (I believe) pine we saw. :0)

    Was nice hanging out again.

  21. It really was Rose! I have to admit although I haven't boycotted Macy's, I haven't shopped at State Street either since the infamous name change.

    But I must tell you, I had a great experience. We felt like VIPs.

    I got there early and looked around at the floral displays, and browsed the sales floor too, without my "VIP" hat on. The employees couldn't have been friendlier. The Walnut Room is still there, they still sell Frangos, the old clock is still there, and even the plaques on the corners of the building are still there with the Marshall Fields name. It really did still feel like that wonderful, familiar place it's always been.

    The name may have changed, but the people there were wonderful. I think it would be good if people would let bygones be bygones.

    I highly recommend checking out the show.

    HHG, it was beautiful! Glad you were able to look past the flamingos!

    I thought they were great, but it looks like there won't be any pink flamingos in my garden anytime soon!

    MBT, Your photos were fantastic! You got some great views and perspectives. I especially liked the fountain shots, both in the center of the 1st floor and the Walnut Room. The overhead shots I took were blurry since we were on the escalator.

    I know - poor plants! They seemed to be begging for rescue. My scillas here are suddenly going crazy, with multiple flower stems coming from each little plant. I hope they are fruitful and multiply, and fill the garden! It was so hot and dry when I planted them last summer, I wasn't sure if I'd see them again. But they are tough little things, and they're still here and blooming.

    Nice hanging out with you too! I had fun.

  22. You took a lot of great pictures. I love seeing the spring flowers in bloom.

  23. Thank you Catherine! Glad you enjoyed the flower show!

  24. Anonymous8:57 PM

    What a fabulous preview of the Macy's Flower Show! Thanks for bringing us along on your sneakpeak tour of all that artistic beauty!

  25. Thanks for coming along Racquel! This is fun. Hope you're having a great weekend!

  26. Beautiful, Linda! Thanks for sharing all of these photos.

    One of the treats I always enjoyed on our infrequent trips to Chicago was visiting Marshall Field's. Such an awesome place to "window shop"! I haven't been there since Macy's took over; glad to see it looks much the smae.

  27. Glad you enjoyed the show Rose!

    It's still the same grand old building, and lots of old Fields traditions have remained, with Macy's adding their own traditions to the mix. I think they've done a very good job of maintaining that balance.

  28. I used to have pink flamingos (about 15 years ago) for the sheer kitch-value. Unfortunately, they got broken by a falling ladder & were never replaced. Too bad the "squirrels" will make any disappear from your garden.

  29. Anonymous2:07 PM

    Macy's actually does have a Flower Show in New York at the Herald Square store. It opened today and is featured until April 19, just like the Chicago show.

  30. I had a feeling he wouldn't welcome the idea MMD! Since I'm not all that invested in it, I'll save my energy for more important issues.

    Sorry to hear of the demise of your flamingos - must have been a disappointing loss. I get attached to stuff like that.

  31. Anonymous, thanks for the tip! I missed that in my search.


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