Sometimes as a gardener, or even as simply a lover of flowers and plants, one can find oneself “stuck in a rut” with the same old plants year after year and perhaps an unwillingness or trepidation about “thinking outside the box.” A visit to Chicago Botanic Garden helps to inspire and also to rejuvenate an interest in the wonderful beauty that is found right in one’s neighborhood and very back yard. The Chicago Botanic Center is located in Glencoe, Illinois and includes 385 acres of land dedicated to showcasing some beautiful plants and innovative landscaping. The garden was opened in 1972 and with over 50,000 members, it currently has the largest membership of any U.S. public garden.
Yes, many of the traditional plants and flowers are there, along with some exotics not found in the Midwest. However, the presentation of them is everything, a wonderful variety of flowers clustered with a multitude of leafy green plants. A Marigold does not just look like another simple Marigold when portrayed in this beautiful landscape. Many of the plants are commonly found in local yards, but when they are paired with other plantings, it gives new insights as to what works well together. Of course light conditions, soil conditions and moisture needs must all be taken into account and it is great to get recommendations from the expert gardeners there.
In addition to the botanic showroom, Chicago Botanic Garden has numerous statues and garden artwork throughout the garden enhancing the beauty of the flowers and water features. The inspiration portrayed by the sculptors is enhanced by the backdrop of lush trees, flowers and several small lakes within the garden. One sculpture in particular pays homage to the man who is considered the Father of Taxonomic Botany: Carolus Linnaeus (1707-1778) He created a system for plant classification using both the “genus” and “species.”
Initial impressions of Chicago Botanic Garden lead one to believe that it is just another lovely park with plants, fountains and art work. Yet, this place is also a research and development facility for seed propagation and developing hardy plants for this area of the country. Several green houses on the premises work year round on botanical production. In terms of educational enrichment, certificate programs offered at the School of the Chicago Botanic Garden include: photography, horticultural therapy, Midwest gardening, professional gardener, garden design and botanical arts.
A busy day touring the garden can make one hungry and thirsty. Two cafes are available: the Garden View Cafe and the Garden Grille. The Garden View Cafe offers fresh, locally produced ingredients to serve up fresh salads, soups and sandwiches. The Garden grille offers hamburgers and chicken sandwiches and daily specials. There is enough variety there to please almost any palette. After renewing your energy at the cafe, don’t forget a stop in the gift shop: “The Garden Shop”. A wonderful array of all types of “goodies” to choose from including clothing, specialty books, stationary and also children’s items to inspire young gardeners.
Admission into the garden is free, but there is a parking fee. Membership includes free parking daily and you can visit as many times as you want. A membership also includes discounts at both of the cafes, the Garden Shop and discounts on programs as well. For more information you can call : (847) 835-5440 or click here to link to their website: http://www.chicagobotanic.org/
It’s such a wonderful garden to visit…and hard to see it all in just one trip. My friend and I will be going again soon! Put your traveling shoes on. JES