Bzzzz July 31st, 2007

Hanna over at This Garden is Illegal made me do it. More random things!!!

This is the new social networking disease (SND)! This time, they are all garden-related and brief. If you want more long-winded random things, visit here and here, where you can also read the rules.

YOU are now officially tagged. (I can see you!) Please add your random things and your link in the comments section at the top of this posting. I am going off to get my shots.

  1. Foo%20Dogs.jpgNumber of rose bushes: 24. Don’t be impressed. My life is not a rose garden. Some are quite small and some are not doing very well.

  2. Number of pairs of garden gloves: 7. My all-purpose favorites are Foxgloves, of which I have three pair—two lavender pairs and one brown pair.
  3. Wintertime garden plans: Topiaries, cultivating my office light garden, more research on Colonial gardens.
  4. Currently reading: Harry Potter. Who isn’t?
  5. Gave up on: Blueberries. I had three varieties and none did well. I tore them out after three years.
  6. Favorite garden art: Foo dogs purchased at the New York Botanical Garden Antique Garden Furniture show.
  7. Always wanted to visit, but never have: White Flower Farm.


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Bzzzz July 30th, 2007

One of the least-trafficked areas of the Chicago Botanic Garden the day I was there were the greenhouses.

Frankly, I found them a welcome relief from the wretched heat and crowds. The air was reasonably cool and there were only a few people to stumble past. And what a fabulous place to hang out…if only they had some benches in the greenhouse. NO BENCHES. NO PLACE TO SIT AND ENJOY the plants. Is that right?


I MOST loved the topiaries. I think I am in love all over again with topiaries.There were these two charming, dancing topiary bunnies–the very best kind of bunnies, I think.


Topiary Bunnies, Chicago Botanic Garden

And right inside the door of one of the greenhouses–the desert greenhouse, I think–was this crazy topiary armadillo, covered with hens and chickens and some other small succulents. Again, the very best type of armadillo. I actually laughed out loud when I saw it!


Topiary Armadillo with Hens and Chickens, Chicago Botanic Garden

There were beautiful, mature palms and even more topiaries. (Someone really loves topiaries.)


Greenhouse at the Chicago Botanic Garden


Greenhouse at the Chicago Botanic Garden

I particularly appreciated the floor at one end of one of the greenhouses–slabs of concrete and grass in a checkerboard pattern that reminded me of that huge chessboard in one of the Harry Potter books. (Can you tell I’m reading Harry Potter?)

(Oooh. I am either cranky tonight or, perhaps, I have just saved some of the less-than-perfect photos for my last post about Chicago.)

Although the Memphis Botanical Garden doesn’t hold a candle to the Chicago Botanic Garden, I did rather like its Japanese garden better. It’s not nearly as expansive. But it does incorporate more color, including the red half-moon bridge, some fabulous yellow sedge and flowers. The Japanese garden in Chicago is so very green, green, green. Unrelieved green. And more green. No flowers in sight…More green…No flowers…More green…(You get the idea.)


Weights on tree limbs in the Japanese Garden create the effect of age

What I did appreciate were the plaques strategically positioned around the garden explaining the Japanese garden philosophy in convenient, easy-to-digest chunks. For example, Japanese gardens strive for an “idealized” notion of beauty, not really a natural landscape. One plaque explained the Japanese veneration for age, even aged trees. They will prune out branches of pines for a more skeletal appearance and weigh some them down to create an architectural illusion of the weight of time. Zig-zag paths are supposed to confuse unlucky spirits and keep them from following you. And the wide roofs of the pagoda-type house ornaments are for collecting the snowflakes, which are prized for their variety and beauty.


Japanese Garden, Chicago Botanic Garden

The rose garden at the Chicago Botanic Garden was HUGE. And disappointing. What is it about roses that gardeners cannot seem to mix other plants with them? Do roses really have to be stand-alone plants? There were wide swaths of roses. Unrelieved roses next to more roses. There were only a few boxwoods as a backdrop. And a weak effort to use catmint. What is it that gardeners think catmint and roses are nicely complimentary? I have mixed them and they don’t really complement each other at all.

There was, however, a fabulous shady arbor at the back of the rose garden. I longed to take a nap there.


Arbor Behind the Rose Garden, Chicago Botanic Garden

I also visited the Dwarf Conifer Garden. Sadly, this seemed a bit of neglected space up the side of a hill. In fact, it was here that I saw the ONLY weeds–and even a feasting bunnie rabbit–in the whole 300+ acres.


Dwarf Conifer Garden, Chicago Botanic Garden – Not the best-maintained part of the gardens there

Okay, that’s it. No more about the Chicago Botanic Garden. Tomorrow–Mount Vernon. I visited there yesterday, where they had a huge thunderstorm. Still, I risked my life and limb to get some photos. Tune in and see…


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