A Visit to the Chicago Botanic Garden
Last Sunday Judy and I made our first visit of the year to the Chicago Botanic Garden. Usually we go about once a month starting in May, and try to make certain highlights like when the crabapples are in bloom – but this year there’s been too much going on.
CBG is one of the great American public gardens, and I don’t just say that out of local boosterism. The variety and quality of the individual display gardens and natural areas is really outstanding. All this is combined in a landscape of man-made islands (on about 400 acres) in a way that creates one breathtaking vista after another. There is always far more to see than can be taken in during a single visit.
OK, the commercial is over. On this visit to CGB, we headed first to the native plant garden, which has both woodland and prairie areas. In the woodland garden we admired the Michigan Lilies (Lilium michiganense).
We also admired the Fairy Candles (Actaea racemosa), cunningly placed to catch the late afternoon sun.
In the prairie section of the Native Plant Garden, Royal Catchfly (Silene regia) stands out against a background of Early Sunflower (Heliopsis helianthoides) and Culver’s Root (Veronicastrum virginicum). We stood and watched a hummingbird feeding on the red tubular flowers, but Judy couldn’t get a clear shot of it.
Another native plant combination that worked nicely was the Culver’s Root with Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea).
We then walked over to the Fruit and Vegetable Garden. To get there you cross a short bridge that looks out over terraces planted with cabbages, greens, and onions – and edged with Zinnias.
Everything looks perfect and healthy. I like those blue tuteurs.
Here’s an unusual combination: Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia) and Amaranth.
Did you know there was such a thing as variegated zucchini?
The Fruit and Vegetable Garden constitutes one of CBG’s islands, surrounded by a man-made lake.
From the Fruit and Vegetable Garden we headed back to the Main Island and the English Walled Garden.
While it is surrounded by a wall, I have always wondered what specifically was English about this garden. Maybe readers from the UK can chime in here.
Whether they are English or not, I like these two containers and the shaded bench.
What do you call this concrete thing on the pedestal? Whatever it is, it looks quite grand though surrounded by humble Rudbeckia hirta.
Here is a second water feature. I’d be reluctant to sit in that bench, though, there would be a grinning satyr looking over your shoulder.
Another view. This part of the garden looks out over the lake.
At this point we’d spent almost three hours visiting three of CBG’s 26 display gardens. We were getting tired, and so was the lion.
However, before leaving we had to pay a visit to Carl Linnaeus, as he happily reaches down to pluck a flower for his specimen sack. And why wouldn’t he be happy, surrounded by this garden and its vast botanical diversity gathered from around the world?