Archives For December 2012

Heart Felt

The story behind the Waud miniatures

Karen Z. —  December 31, 2012 — Leave a comment
A close-up of the creature's features from Elmer and the Dragon.

A close-up of the beloved creature’s features from the book Elmer and the Dragon.

The Waud collection of storybook figures are always a welcome treat at Wonderland Express—see them in the Lenhardt Library. While you’re there, tell the kids the story behind them:

Once upon a time (mid-1940s) there was a creative grandmother who wanted to give her grandchildren something special for the holidays. Knowing that they loved stories—nursery rhymes and fairy tales and the great books of childhood—the grandmother, whose name was Mrs. Ernest P. Waud (her first name was Olive), decided to make tree-ornament-sized figures of the characters that her grandchildren knew so well.

Now, Mrs. Waud was accomplished with a needle and thread. So she gathered wool felt (in many colors), jewel-like beads, and shiny sequins and seed pearls, and she began to stitch.

Like many characters, Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle is displayed with the storybook that made her famous.

Like many characters, Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle is displayed with the storybook that made her famous.

Her handiwork brought the characters to three-dimensional life, with incredible detail: the White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland glances down, mid-scurry, at a tiny pocketwatch…miniature red beads mark the Through the Looking Glass lion’s claws…bits of wire are twisted into eyeglasses for the Three Blind Mice…and the chimney on Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater’s house tilts at just the right crazy angle.

Over the years, Mrs. Waud’s creations earned local recognition. An ornament-laden tree toured the Children’s Memorial Hospital annually in the 1950s. The Museum of Science and Industry included her figurines at the Miracle of Books fair in 1953, and the Art Institute of Chicago displayed her work around 1963. Finally, in 1998, the collection found a permanent home here at the Chicago Botanic Garden. More than 60 characters are on display every year, and some are sure to make your heart skip: Babar and Celeste…Pigling Bland…Peter Rabbit…

He's Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater.

He’s Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater.

Tell Mrs. Waud’s story, reminisce about your favorite childhood books, and smile as you explore the collection, on display through the first weekend of January.

"Mrs. Waud is such a perfectionist that she is not satisfied until there actually is character in the faces of her storybook images."  --Quote from a 1951 newspaper article.

“Mrs. Waud is such a perfectionist that she is not satisfied until there actually is character in the faces of her storybook images.” –Quote from a 1951 newspaper article.

Heartfelt wishes for a happy new year. ♥


©2012 Chicago Botanic Garden and my.chicagobotanic.org

On Tuesday, December 18, Chicago Botanic Garden president and CEO Sophia Siskel sent the letter below to staff, reflecting on recent events and expressing gratitude for the healing and inspiration she finds at the Garden. We’d like to share this letter with you, our blog subscribers, as you are a part of the Garden family.

We’d also like to invite you to observe a moment of silence with us at 8:30 a.m. CST on Friday, December 21. Along with the nation, the Chicago Botanic Garden will observe a moment of silence and toll a bell for each of the 26 victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy that happened one week ago on December 14. Visitors will gather at McGinley Pavilion for the brief observance.

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December 18, 2012

Dear Chicago Botanic Garden Staff,

As you know, last Friday we enjoyed a wonderful afternoon together—celebrating our colleagues’ years of service and achievements.  As we left the party that day, we learned that yet another tragedy had taken place in the world.

I walked back to my desk in tears, feeling helpless and wondering what I could do to make the world a better place.  Adding this grief to my worries about climate change, feeding hungry families, and reconciling our Federal budget just felt like too much!  Perhaps you felt, or are feeling, this way too.

And that is why I wanted to write this letter to you.

Because while as individuals we cannot solve all the world’s problems, we are, as Garden staff and volunteers, doing a lot together.  When I realized how much we are doing for others, my pain began to ease.  I hope that you, too, will find solace in remembering the importance of our garden.
 
Each and every day of the year, from dawn to dusk, we offer a refuge, as well as education, wellness, therapy, inspiration, and conservation of the environment.  Each and every day, as part of the intricate team it takes to run our garden, you deliver joy, healing, and inspiration. Your efforts, especially now, make a difference in so many ways. People who come into contact with your work can feel your commitment and your nurturing kindness.
 
Our garden is a place where hope for the future can be rekindled; where serenity and the beauty of nature can calm the spirit and the mind.  Each season and every program offers a respite from the stresses of the world.
 
Our garden is a place where people play, stroll, eat, laugh, and dance with friends and family, with strangers and alone, in good times and bad.  Our garden embraces people of every age and background and welcomes multi-generational families to enjoy a day together. Our garden, through its formal design, and informal programs, offers joy, beauty, fun, and peace.
 
Our garden helps ensure that science education reaches thousands of children and provides individuals of all ages—and from all backgrounds—with engaging classes and programs.  These opportunities enrich people’s lives, complement the education system, and, hopefully, over time, help heal the planet.
 
Our garden helps people get regular exercise and grow their own food.  People who walk outside move at a faster pace, perceive less exertion, and experience more positive emotions than people exercising indoors.  Together with wonderful partners, we are committed to growing and donating food, and training farmers throughout Cook and Lake Counties.
 
Our garden helps heal and conserve the environment.  All life depends on plants; Garden conservation scientists study what is happening to plants, the changes that can result from a loss in plants and healthy habitat, and then seek to discover ways to heal the damage.
 
Our garden serves veterans and people who have physical and emotional challenges.  Working with plants builds strength, relieves stress, fights depression, and increases well-being.  Just looking at a scene depicting nature activates parts of the brain associated with balance and happiness. Garden therapy programs extend beyond physical boundaries, serving schools, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and hospice.
 
Our garden is a refuge and a good value—people return over and over again and Mother Nature, aided by skilled horticulturalists, always provides something new.
 
If we remember that gardens are important to the physical and emotional well-being of all people, and if we honor the opportunity we have to work with wonderful colleagues in a place whose beauty changes with every hour, we will help address the world’s challenges today, and for many years to come.
 
Thank you for all you do for the Chicago Botanic Garden.  I am profoundly grateful to work with you and hold you and your family in my heart.
 
I wish you all the best for a Happy, Healthy New Year.
 
Warmly,
 
Sophia
 
Sophia Siskel
President & CEO
Chicago Botanic Garden

_WCB7356-62 Sunrise Lakeside LKS HDR

Carillon on Evening Island at sunrise
Photo by Bill Bishoff


©2012 Chicago Botanic Garden and my.chicagobotanic.org

Reflections on 12.12.12

One Day on Earth: 24 Hours in the Chicago Botanic Garden

Julie McCaffrey —  December 19, 2012 — Leave a comment

Two Garden staffers set out to capture 12 hours of the Chicago Botanic Garden on 12-12-2012 to submit to the One Day on Earth project. It turned out to be an ideal day to capture winter beauty with clear skies and lots of wildlife. We saw the lights at the Lake Cook Road entrance while it was still dark, the sunrise over the Malott Japanese Garden, gorgeous morning sun on the display gardens, the indoor Wonderland Express exhibition, the sunset over the Regenstein Fruit & Vegetable Garden, the holiday lights on The Esplanade and the indoor Greenhouses. Wonderland Express is open through Jan. 6, 2013, so don’t miss it!


©2012 Chicago Botanic Garden and my.chicagobotanic.org

All animals that inhabit this area, including humans, have to cope with the changing of the seasons. There are four basic responses to the cooler temperature and shorter daylight. Which is your favorite strategy for surviving the winter?

Do you eat more food during this time of year, loading up on high calorie goodies? You may be a Snacker. It is a natural instinct. You are like the squirrels, rabbits, and some birds that fatten up and keep going all winter long.  

 

PHOTO: a gray squirrel poses as it feeds on bird seed dropped from a bird feeder.

Squirrels fatten up on seeds and stay active all winter long.

Do you travel to warmer climates during the winter? Wings are not required to be a Flapper. Count yourself in the company of warblers, monarch butterflies, and herons if you leave the area in winter. You may be migrating to escape the cold, but these animals are generally traveling to find more plentiful supplies of food.

Do you become sleepy and hibernate for four or five months every year? Then you are a Sleeper, like a bear, turtle, or frog. These animals undergo physical changes that shut down their respiratory systems and metabolism during the winter. You are probably not a true sleeper, even if it sounds appealing.

PHOTO: This bronze model of a painted turtle on a rock can be seen a Kleinman Family Cove yearround.

This bronze turtle can be seen all year at the Kleinman Family Cove, while the real turtles are hibernating in the mud at the bottom of the lake in winter.

If you are prone to feeling tired and sleeping more in the winter, then it’s more likely that you are a Napper. Animals like skunks and opossum cozy up in burrows or under deep piles of leaves and sleep. Occasionally they emerge, find something to eat, and then go back to bed.

PHOTO: A small skunk is feeding on squirrel corn on a dark winter evening.

A skunk wakes up from its nap and feeds on some seeds during a winter evening.

 

PHOTO: A baby opossum is seen in the snow surrounded by dormant plant stalks.

Like the skunk, this baby opossum emerged from its nap and is looking for something to eat before it returns to its shelter.

Snacker, Flapper, Sleeper, Napper — try to say that three times fast as you prepare for another midwestern winter!


©2012 Chicago Botanic Garden and my.chicagobotanic.org

Goodnight, Roses

Karen Z. —  December 13, 2012 — 1 Comment

What a difference a month makes!

In early November, many of the roses that bloom twice per year (called remontant, or repeat-blooming) were still putting on quite a show in the Rose Garden. Even that late in the season, the garden looked exceptionally lush—canes were tall, bloom was heavy, and November’s cold-but-not-freezing nights kept the last of the season’s flowers going through Thanksgiving.

Finally, early December brought below-freezing nighttime temperatures—and Garden staff jumped into action to put the rose beds “to sleep” for the winter. Now the garden looks entirely different.

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The process that our staff uses to prep roses for winter is the same process you can use in your rose garden, too.

Step 1: Prune canes.

While early spring is the major pruning season for roses, end-of-the-year pruning protects the plant from winter wind (canes can whip around and scar each other, and stiff winds can pull long-caned plants out of the ground). Prune out thin or crossing canes to open up the plant, and cut back remaining canes by one-third in height.

Step 2: Clean up leaf litter.

This simple step can prevent major problems later, as leaf litter is a prime source of diseases and pest problems. As you can imagine, we have a lot of leaf litter in a garden with 5,000 roses plants; our truly dedicated volunteers and staff spent two days removing every last leaf from the beds.

Step 3: Mulch.

Mounded up and around each rose plant is a thick layer of mulch (we use well-aged horse manure, but chopped and well-composted leaves work, too). Mulch protects the plants, helps maintain even temperatures, and adds fresh nutrients to the soil. When spring arrives, this extra blanket of mulch will be removed.

And speaking of spring, check out our YouTube video on how to prune climbing roses:

©2012 Chicago Botanic Garden and my.chicagobotanic.org