Monday, August 11, 2008

Todd Bachman Was a Gardening Guy

I just learned that the man who died as a result of being stabbed in Beijing was a hort man. He owned a plant nursery in Minnesota, had a horticulture degree, and served on the board of directors of many nurseries. Read more on my Mlive blog.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Flowers in the City: Chicago Botanic Garden

Photo from CBG's website, not taken by me
Photo from Chicago Botanic Garden website

Let's catch up on a trip I enjoyed two weeks ago in Chicago. Unlike last year, I was mentally prepared for the size and bustle of the city, and walked confidently to the Art Institute of Chicago. I didn't get the chance to visit it last year, and the time I was there before that, we didn't allot enough time for all the wonderful Impressionist and modern art. So it was my primary goal this time to see those. Only it turned out that those works were largely unavailable because part of them were on loan elsewhere (sharing is good) and part were in storage in preparation of opening their new building dedicated only to modern art (fair enough, makes sense). I was still a little disappointed, but made due with several wonderful Georgia O'Keeffes (we share a birthday! and I didn't realize until a few years back that she did a lot more than that red poppy; I love her landscapes and more abstract pieces) and others.

The next morning, I set off on the Metra to the Chicago Botanic Garden, where I had arranged to meet gardengirl (who wrote about our day here). (I'll digress briefly to say I love mass transit and enjoy riding both the El and Metra in Chicago.) I had forgotten that the Chicago Botanic Garden does not charge admission (I get into many gardens for free with reciprocal membership through my local garden, but it's still nice for it to be free!). I liked Linda right away. She's lovely and funny and knows a ton about plants, and I enjoyed our time together. I just wish we lived closer so I could bug her more often we could get together more easily.

The fountain near the entrance provides a hearty welcome.

I'm not usually a fan of geometrically trimmed bushes, but thought this curvy, wavy trim of boxwood was refreshing. It gives the sense of motion.

Bananas! I just love the way the light is filtering through the gorgeous banana leaves, which always remind me of canna leaves.

The Joe Pye weed in the native plant garden was striking. I'm happy to report that it has finally take off in my own garden, after several years of modesty.

I've always enjoyed a garden of many colors (it's not willy-nilly, it's polychromatic!). Here are some colors I would not think would work together, but they do. Nature likes lots of color combinations, and so do I!

I love the pods on this catalpa tree!

It was a great time to see prairie flowers in bloom, both from a distance...

and close up.

Isn't the flower of the tall cup plant cute?!

And, ooh, the spiny rattlesnake master is so sweet. (It's the native relative of sea holly, which I also love.)

And indoors, a local group was having a succulent sale. There were some pretty unusual-looking cactuses, as well as this plant which Linda thought looked like Tiddlywinks game pieces!

The next day, I visited, and got a master gardener-led tour of, the Lurie Garden at Millennium Park. It's an oasis in the city.

Isn't the swaying purple love grass, and the city skyline in the background, beautiful?

For more photos of the Lurie Garden, read my Mlive blog entry.

I also walked to Buckingham Fountain, whose center spray slowly rises higher and higher, which I didn't realize until way after I took this photo.

I really enjoy Chicago and recommend it for a weekend getaway or full vacation!

Click for more photos of the Chicago Botanic Garden, as well as Garfield Park Conservatory and Chicago in general.