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Chicago Flower & Garden Show: A Breath of Spring

The Chicago Flower & Garden Show was a welcome sight for my winter weary eyes. Although the show was more theatre than actual gardens, it was chockfull of ideas and inspiration for gardeners of all types. Here’s a recap through this gardener’s eyes.

A garden by Aquascape Inc. featured the sound of rushing water.

I loved these curved water features. One in a garden would be nice, but…

…fit together like puzzle pieces, they created something really dramatic.

The theme of the show this year was FlowerTales: Every Garden has a Story to Tell and the students of the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences designed and built an incredible display. Their garden took visitors down the rabbit hole into the worlds of Alice in Wonderland, Harry Potter and Narnia before completing their journey…

… at the home of a hobbit.

Built by Rosborough Partners and dedicated to Bernie’s Book Bank , Garden Trilogy told the story of three gardens – an enchanted forest, a secret garden and a wonderland. (Bernie’s Book Bank is a non-profit organization that has provided more than 11,000,000 books to children in low-income neighborhoods since 2009. If you have quality children’s books you would like to donate, check out their website for more information.)

The tulips were spectacular and…

…the book-lined path was enchanting.

There was a garden of sculptures created by Chicago artists.

My favorite was this sculpture by Janet Austin called Mr. Big Beetle Finds His Way.

The tablescapes designed by Chicago’s event planners, floral designers and others were magnificent. I loved this one but, like most of the others, they were a little over the top for this country girl’s style.

This tropical-themed tablescape would be perfect on the deck where all the tropicals (currently overwintering in our dining room) will move once the weather allows.

But this one, created by students at Kendall College, was my favorite. This simple and delightful tablescape was totally my style…

…complete with watering can centerpiece, mason jar glasses, floral-inspired plates and…

…burlap chair ties with single stems of flowers tucked in.

I wanted to belly up to the bar at the Whole Foods display filled with fresh herbs and vegetables.

A partnership between Racine Zoo and Stein’s Garden & Gifts displayed plants and d├ęcor to inspire while sharing interesting facts about animals. Did you know elephant trunks have 15,000 muscles and can smell water from 3 miles away? Fascinating! Did you know we share 70% of our DNA with slugs? I’m not sure I wanted to know this!

My favorite project in The Women’s Journey in Fiber exhibit was Peter Rabbit.

The detail was amazing, don’t you agree?

Of course, the best part of the Chicago Flower Garden Show for me was all the flowers and foliage.

Astilbe & Coleus


Hyacinth 'Blue Jacket'

Helleborus orientalis

Heuchera Flowers

Muscari, Grape Hyacinths


Thanks to Doornbosch Bros., the Tulip Extravaganza held 3,500 tulips. It renewed my faith that spring is on its way.

I had a great time at the Chicago Flower & Garden Show, but one thing had me puzzled.

I wondered why the Chicagoland independent garden centers were not more of a presence at the show. I’ve considered many reasons: they are gearing up for spring; they are short-staffed; building a garden at the show is expensive; etc. But, as a gardener, I would take notice of the independent garden centers that supported a gardener’s experience at the Chicago Flower & Garden Show and support them in return. Couldn’t they join together to share ideas, manpower and cost?

Kudos to Lurvey’s in Des Plaines and The Growing Place in Aurora and Naperville for participating. Lurvey’s created beautiful planters near the entrance of seminar rooms. The Growing Place featured fairy gardens.

The Chicago Flower & Garden Show was a lovely way to spend a day. Now, let’s all keep our fingers crossed that winter weather is behind us and gardening season begins soon. Garden with me!















6 thoughts on “Chicago Flower & Garden Show: A Breath of Spring

  1. You should do the PR for the show! Your photos were phenomenal, almost better than being there in person. Your close-ups of the vignettes displayed so much of the detail. Your photos of the Aquascape gardens were excellent. I spoke there in the demonstrations and also in the lecture hall, so I had to run in, run around quickly and run out on Thursday. It was crowded, so I did not get to see the gardens up close. Your wonderful blog completed my visit! Thank you. (Did you get to hear the wonderful musician, Vicki Logan, playing Native American wooden flutes? She was sitting behind the Aquascape gardens in the Northeast corner. The music was magical!)

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