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


  1. I did like the show this year, was there for the opening. It has easy to read messages on trends and much more gardener friendly as to incorporating some of these ideas in the home garden.


    1. I agree Eileen - more user-friendly ideas real gardeners can actually use.

  2. I'm really bummed I can't make it this year, and esp. that I missed the swap. Glad you had a good time despite forgetting your seeds (lol, that doesn't sound like you!!).

    1. We missed you Monica!

      About the forgotten seeds - I remembered to sort through my cache, then left my selections on that antique chest in the downstairs hallway, walked off without them, and remembered while in the ladies' room after arriving at Navy Pier. I blame Grandma Brain. (yes, it's a real condition, and should be in the DSM V being published next year. Medications are currently under FDA review. ;)

  3. Thanks for the wonderful pictures, Linda. I wish I could have been there. One of these years I'll have to plan ahead far enough to really get there. If there is such a thing as 'Grandma Brain', do you think there could be Great Grandma Brain? ;>0

    1. Glad you enjoyed the photos Mom! It would be fantastic if you can make it one of these years soon. I'd love for you to meet Kylee's mom (Kylee too!) They come every year. Kylee's grandma is still here, at age 97, and later this year there'll be five generations of women in her family. Oh yeah, Great-Grandma brain will be a sub-clinical condition in the DSM V, along with Great-Great-Grandma brain. Those conditions are reportedly less common and less severe than Grandma Brain and don't require medication due to the lack of profitability in this demographic. ;)

  4. I love the glass agapanthus! The Ag school's display does look impressive; I remember talking to some of the students last year, and I was impressed with their friendliness and enthusiasm about their projects. Thanks so much for the tour, Linda. Unfortunately, Beckie and I decided not to attend this year. We're going to check out the Indianapolis Show instead, and decided rather than attend Chicago's as well, we're going to save our pennies for the Fling in Asheville (one of our dream destinations). When you said this year's show is one of the more impressive in recent years, it made me disappointed we weren't attending. But I'm glad to hear it's back on an upward trend; I hope to be back next year!

    1. Glad you enjoyed it, Rose, and sorry to miss you this year.

      The Ag school is dear to my heart. My niece attended there, and loved it. She has gone on to be a garden lover, and is married to a gardener too. I wish the school was closer. I'd visit the school's farm and buy from their farmers' market.

      I'm sure you'll enjoy Asheville. My middle daughter was just there in the last week or so. So many wonderful places to see there. Wish I could join you all!

  5. I seem to be in the minority here, but I was terribly disappointed by the show. I went on Sunday, and a lot of the gardens were suffering from lack of watering. There seemed in my eyes to be a lot of the same plants used over and over. I've been to other garden shows in Europe, and the one here in Chicago seemed dark, dreary and dingy compared to those. I also thought the vendor section was disappointing. There was only one seed vendor that I saw and 2 bulb vendors. I would have expected the big seed companies to be there, and to put on a showgarden of their own, like they do at the Chelsea Flower Show. But instead there was the cast of Days of our lives, Swiffer, and a few more that we just cruised by. We were done within 2 hours, and that was with 2 kids under the age of 3 along.

    This was my first year at the Chicago Flower and Garden show, and it will be my last. Next year I'll take the $50 and head to a large nursery and buy some plants there instead.

    1. Sorry it was disappointing to you, LilBlossom.

  6. Anonymous8:24 PM

    Thanks for the help with the seed swap. I couldn't have done it without all you women who volunteered.


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