Desperate as we are, Mr C. and I willingly plunked down the price of admission to enjoy an indoor version of spring. It lasted just a few hours, and flowers bloomed under fluorescent lights, but hey: there were tulips and daffodils and delighted smiles in abundance.
The Chicago Flower and Garden Show comes along just as the light is changing. Experienced Chicagoans know that spring is still probably a good month off, and that we may still be wearing our overcoats on the first of May. Cravenly, though, we allow ourselves to be seduced into attending the Garden Show, which offers the illusion that spring has arrived.
The artifice bothers me, but Mr C admires the insane amount of effort that goes into this show. Twenty gardens are created inside the Navy Pier terminal, many with sizable evergreens, water features, and flowering trees. Flagstone paths and terracing. Sizable boulders with moss. Masses of ranunculus, hyacinth, azaleas, and other delicate plants, with colors so bright they defy photography. (Most of the pictures I took were surprisingly poor.)
About half of the exhibition space is given over to a marketplace, where vendors sell cut flowers and pussy willows, organic and locally produced specialty foods, garden tools and services, as well as bulbs and seeds.
Although the garden show has a commercial feel, it serves the worthy purpose of trying to feed Chicagoans’ interest in gardening by offering tips on garden design, plants, and integrating gardening into life itself. The show, which runs through March 17, offers brief demonstrations and lectures on a range of subjects, including cooking with garden produce and container planting.
There is even this nod to guerrilla gardening.
My favorite installation was that of the Peterson Garden Project, whose goal is to interest every Chicagoan in growing food, whether in community gardens, containers, vertical installations, or on the rooftops of their buildings. The Peterson installation featured a wonderful mural designed and created by students from the Senn High School. “We Can Grow It!” it proclaimed.
And so we shall, when the right moment comes.