Thursday, November 6, 2014

Historic Fern Room Construction Update - Chicago's Garfield Park Conservatory

The historic Fern Room at Chicago's Garfield Park Conservatory is undergoing repairs and
Historic Fern Room At Garfield Park Conservatory
renovations after the 100+ year old roof was destroyed by Hail in July 2011.  While the room was open after a temporary (plastic) roof was in place, only recently was the roof returned back to glass.
Currently (Fall 2014) the Fern room is undergoing redesign and replanting. The stone walls, originally placed by Jens Jensen, are all easily visible now as moss and liverwort have died back or been pulled away.  The new design for the Fern Room will have more cycads and a wider diversity of ferns. It will also have no philodendrons climbing up the pillars.  This will create a very different feeling!

Here is a photo of the Fern room from before the hails storm and then immediately afterwards.  The removal of the glass from all the beds took lots of time. The process of restoring this historic room at the Garfield Park Conservatory has been ongoing for years. You can see my other posts about this wonderful place and the renovations.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Container Gardening - Inspiration from Rick Bayless Garden, Chicago

Architecture: containers
adding height to the garden
In an earlier post I highlighted the urban agriculture and leisure areas in Chef Rick Bayless' farm/garden in downtown Chicago.  I was also very pleased to see all the containers used in the garden.

I've captured a few of my favorites here for your consideration and inspiration.  I use quite a few containers in my own garden and teach others on the subject. So I'm always on the look out for tips, examples, and motivation. 

One thing that I find interesting in this case is that many of the plantings seem to stay consistent over the years - as I compare photos from prior tours and blogs.  Hitting on something that works and sticking to it is not a bad thing at all! I'm still in trial and error state in many parts of my garden. 

Some interesting aspects of the use of containers:

Architectural elements along pathways and within/raised gardens. For example the raised pots in the photo just above right. We were told that the sun hits the top of the garden much more than the floor - hence the high sun items raised up to greet the day.   Another interesting use of containers was to add strong vertical structure to the porch area. These large containers create an effective screen from prying eyes looking into the house, beautiful colors, and vegetables too. The climbing vine is a spinach variety!  This photo also transitions well to my next point which is clustering more than one container together in one vignette. 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Review - Chihuly at Denver Botanic Garden

Chihuly - Blue Spiky Glass at
Denver Botanic Garden, 2014
Denver Botanic Gardens presented an outdoor exhibit artwork by celebrated American artist, Dale Chihuly.  The Glass from Chihuly's sculptures – ranging in size and form – added bold colors and dramatic beauty to the Gardens' 24-acre urban oasis.  Chihuly first exhibited glass within a garden setting at Chicago's Garfield Park Conservatory - which houses a permanent exhibit of Chihuly glass in it's Aroid House. 

The glass in Denver was on such a large scale. In some cases the glass over took the surroundings it was so overbearing, beautiful, creative, and yet at times not in sync with the surroundings.  Which is not to say that I didn't love the exhibit - I adore the Denver Botanic Gardens, I think I just had very different expectations.  There was a piece of art glass almost around every corner - so much to take in.  

Take a virtual tour, see what you think from the photos below. 

Creatures of the Night - Halloween @ Chicago's Garfield Park Conservatory

Chicago's Garfield Park Conservatory hosts an special Halloween themed evening called Creatures of the Night each October.  The event showcases nocturnal animals in the Conservatory's living collection.  It is a unique opportunity for kids of all ages to get up close and personal with some very interesting creatures!  The range of animals has included fruit bat, owls, spiders, wolves, big snakes, cockroaches, even a raccoon and more creepy crawlers. 
Creatures of the Night, Chicago, 2014

I took my children when they were much younger - in the 5-12 year old range. They had a blast and it really supplemented their classroom learning.  Not only did they get to touch the animals and observe them up close, but also ask the handlers questions about what the animals eat, how they behave and more. My kids, now driving and on their own, continue to go to the event with their friends. It's an unexpected tradition in our family now.

Kids and adults come in costume. There are treats to enjoy and often music. It's an experience not to be missed (and well worth the small donation requested.)