Crabapple Blossoms at the Chicago Botanic Garden
It’s not always easy to get to the Chicago Botanic Garden for the peak of the crabapple blossoms. It only lasts a few days, and the dates can be unpredictable. The weather is not always cooperative, and a badly timed rainstorm can put a quick end to all the fragile beauty.
It’s worth making the effort, however. There are hundreds of crabapple trees planted around a small artificial lake called the Great Basin. The most common varieties are ‘Donald Wyman’, ‘Prairie Fire’, ‘Profusion’, ‘Calocarpa’, and various Japanese flowering crabs. At the right time, the masses of bloom are a joyful and uplifting sight.
Today happened to be that rare perfect day to see the crabapples at their peak, so Judy and I took advantage of it. The weather was mild and sunny, the sky a perfect blue. Once we got to CBG, we headed for the Great Basin. To get there, we walked through the Heritage Garden and then the English Walled Garden.
On the other side of the English Walled Garden there is a hillside that is planted with Iceland poppies every spring. The poppies had just been planted, so they hadn’t yet filled in. Even so, I loved seeing them glow like multi-colored jewels. This may be a wasteful practice, as the poppies do not last long, but I’m glad they do this.
Finally, we came to a wide path with fragrant crabapples on either side. There are still some late Narcissus under the crabs. Nepeta, windflower, marsh spurge, and dwarf borage are also included in the underplanting.
There is a bridge surrounded by massive weeping willows that leads to a part of the garden called Evening Island.
After crossing the bridge, we could see the carillon tower on Evening Island. During the summer there are Tuesday evening carillon concerts. Don’t get too close to the tower when the bells start ringing. I’m not a big fan of Euphorbia, but when it is massed this way I see the appeal.
During long stretches of our walk, we were in a veritable tunnel of flowering crab.
It was a very leisurely walk, as it was hard not to stop and inspect the pink and white blossoms – and see which ones were most fragrant.
Gradually we made it to the second, western bridge back to the main part of the garden.
While crossing back we saw some very large and ugly carp.
We could also get a good view of the blooming crabapples across the water.
On our way back to the entrance, we strolled through CGB’s woodland walk. Virginia bluebells, brunnera, primroses, and bleeding heart bloomed beneath the dappled shade of yellow birches.
We also got to take in the tail end of CBG’s tulip season. The light made the tulips glow, even the fading ones.
Finally, CBG has a very fine model railroad tucked away in a corner, but you have to pay extra to go in and see it. However, as we were walking past Judy was able to get a decent shot of Thomas the Tank Engine as he chugged past.
And so we bid farewell to the crabapple blossoms, to CBG, to Thomas (and to Mr. Conductor, of course). It was a very satisfying visit.