An Early May Walk Through the Chicago Botanic Garden

Last Saturday morning, after finishing my class at the Chicago Botanic Garden, I walked outside and realized that it was a perfect day. Perfect days have been few and far between this spring, so I called Judy and asked her to come up and meet me so we could take a walk and enjoy the garden together. Oh, and I asked her to bring the camera.

Tulips
Tulips ‘Passionale’, ‘Shirley’, and ‘Havran’.

The first thing that had us exclaiming was the tulip display in the Esplanade near the entrance. There were a mix of three tulips with a purple color theme. The three were the dark purple ‘Havran’, the medium purple ‘Passionale’, and ‘Shirley’. This last tulip is white with a purple blush. I really like this type of color arrangement with several variations on the theme of a single color.

Daffodils
Daffodils at the CBG Bulb Garden.

After the Esplanade we went to the Bulb Garden. Many of the tulips here have not yet opened. Those that have, for some reason, were mostly pink, not my favorite color for tulips. Even so, the bulb garden was lovely, filled with blooming Narcissus, fritilaries, etc.

Ferns Chicago Botanic Garden

From there we wandered over to a woodland garden which, though unnamed, is actually one of our favorite areas in spring. At this time of year, there are ferns, bluebell false forget me not, and daffodils among the birches and evergreens. When we were there the bleeding hearts were not yet in bloom, but by now they will have added many arching stems of dangling pink flowers to the blue and yellow.

woodland garden cbg may 4 2013

This garden is planted on a steep slope. From the path at the top, you can see down to the lagoon.

Carillon Tower, Chicago Botanic Garden, Evening Island
Carillon Tower at Chicago Botanic Garden’s Evening Island.

Onward. We walked across the bridge to Evening Island, which is really a collection of several gardens. At one end there is a small hill topped with a Carillon. Carillon concerts are given on summer evenings, something we have always meant to go to. One piece of advice: do not stand at the base of the Carillon when it starts ringing. I have learned this through personal experience.

Carillon, Chicago Botanic Garden, Evening Island
View from Carillon hill.

From the Carillon hill, you can see across sunny fields of flowers to another small hill at the other end of the island. Grape hyacinths make a blue carpet at the feet of a hedge of bright yellow forsythia. Per my earlier post, I admit this is a setting where forsythia looks really good, but I still wouldn’t plnat it in my own garden.

Evening Island, Chicago Botanic Garden
Water-side path on Evening Island

We walked along a path lined with crabapple trees. The crabapples are also planted along the water on the opposite shore. When they bloom it is a glorious sight. I’d think there’s another week or two before that happens.

woodland garden 2 cbg may 4 20

Leaving Evening Island on the second bridge, there are more crabapples, daffodils, and false forget me not.

English Walled Garden, Chicago Botanic Garden
English Walled Garden

Before heading to the parking lot, we walked along the English Walled Garden, admiring the yellow magnolia (Magnolia acuminata).

Finally, we had to head home. After almost three hours, there was still a great deal we had not seen. Even so, we had done enough gawking, and there was serious gardening to be done at home!

Have you taken any great walks so far this spring?

58 Comments on “An Early May Walk Through the Chicago Botanic Garden

  1. Perfect walk to inspire you! I love the sight of mass plantings, it’s such a fusion of colour.

  2. Yes, we’ve been touring gardens — it’s the big season for that in Virginia.

    Love your shot of the tulips!

  3. This is my first view of Chicago Botanic Garden. I can see that one needs more than a couple hours to see it all! Thanks for the virtual walk; your photos are great!

  4. Thanks for inviting us along for your walk. This is a beautiful garden and you’re lucky to live so close. I’ve only been walking around my hood so far.

  5. WOW Jason!! It is always so wonderful to get out and take in a stunning gardens like the Chicago Botanic Garden! It fuels the mind with great ideas for our own spaces! Sounds like you had a lovely day! Love the photos!

  6. I haven’t taken any good walks lately unfortunately. Although, I have plans to that never come to fruition. I have to say I’ve never seen a crab apple tree, other than in pictures. They seem to be really prominent in the colder parts of the country. They look so beautiful. I’ve become really interested in them lately.

    • If you can grow apple trees, you should be able to grow crabs. For myself, I wouldn’t mind having a lemon or orange tree.

  7. Another place to add to my list. I would love that English walled garden and the winding path up to Carillon Hill is stunning.

  8. This is one of the benefits of living in or near a city. Still, not enough to get me to move. One other thing I get from this is the low maintenance requirements of the plants in these beds. It’s obvious that some serious planning was done.

  9. So pretty! That forsythia hedge really does stand out. Even though you might not want one in your garden, you may actually convince me to put one in mine! Lined up as a hedge, they are quite showy!

  10. Just gorgeous material including the ‘Shirley’ tulip as opposed to the Shirley Temple. Thanks for reminding me of one of my favorite.

  11. I really enjoyed my walk Jason. It all looks lovely. I agree re those tulips they are gorgeous aren’t they.
    I was supposed to go to Edinburgh Botanic Gardens today but it’s so cold, windy and wet I have put it off til another day!

  12. Hello Jason!
    I love your first picture.
    It is lovely .. I love the spring time. It’s the most wonderful time.
    He wakes up life and vegetation.
    I send warm greetings.
    Lucia

  13. The woodland garden is one of my favorites at CBG too. Their whitespire birches look stunning in most seasons, but especially spring. The sensory garden is another of my favorites. Ivan Watters also curates one of the most stunning collection of Bonsai there.

  14. I too like the woodland garden. I will be taking many walks next week as I travel to PA, the home of many fine gardens. My cousin is a board member at Longwoods and Chanticleer so they are two I will visit for sure. I just hope she takes me!

  15. Wonderful tour Jason! I have never been to CBG, so it is fun to see your photos. The first tulip combination is great! I love ‘Shirley’ here in our garden with dark purple ‘Cum Laude’.

    • It is a great tulip combination, isn’t it? I would like to see the same approach taken with other colors, say red.

  16. Spring gardens are just so beautiful, perhaps because winter has been long and colourless.

    Why ‘false forget-me-nots’? I have them all over the garden at the moment and will soon start to pull them up But while they are there, crammed into every gap, before seeding, I adore them. Particularly at dusk when they become positively numinous.

  17. That really was a perfect day Lucky you were both able to get out and enjoy it. I think my favourite was the tulips at the start. I too love variations and shades of a single colour. just gorgeous.

  18. Beautiful gardens and good pictures, I wish I was there!
    I suddenly feel the itch of having a carillon tower in my garden too… But then I wouldn’t have anymore the excuse to be late at work in the morning…

  19. I always enjoy wandering around Botanical gardens, so thanks for taking us there with you. I see you have tulips too!
    Like you I can see why your favourite spot is a favourite, the mixture of silver birches, ferns and bluebells would tickle my senses too!

  20. Just imagine you had this much land yourself to do all these. I think I was going to grow crazy and buy all sorts of flowering plants, possible :-). It must have been a lovely walk; thanks for taking us along. But, I have to say NYC tulips outrun their cousins in Chicago :). Tulips, or I should ocean of tulips in every possible color are now beautifying the city :-).

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