Summer Tour of the Garden

We recently toured the Garden with Boyce Tankersley, director of plant documentation, to see what’s in bloom this summer in a few display gardens: Landscape, Native Plant, English Walled and the West Flower Walk. Here are some of the plants we found.

Landscape Garden
The perennial border in the Landscape Garden

 

Queen of the Prairie in the Native Plant Garden
Queen of the Prairie (Filipendula rubra) in the Native Plant Garden

 

Dianthus barbatus 'Rose Magic' in the English Walled Garden
Pinks (Dianthus barbatus ‘Rose Magic’) in the English Walled Garden

 

Daylilies in the West Flower Walk
Daylilies (Hemerocallis) in the West Flower Walk

Watch the video above for the full tour. Though we couldn’t take you to each one of our 26 display gardens, you can find out more on our What’s in Bloom highlight page each week — twice a week during the summer bloom season — to learn more about the different plants in bloom.

Then, come out to see them in person for the full experience. Download our GardenGuide app from iTunes or Google Play to enhance your visit with even more information about the plants and gardens that surround you.


©2013 Chicago Botanic Garden and my.chicagobotanic.org

Zebra Longwing: The Friendliest Butterfly Around

A longtime favorite of staff and visitors alike, the zebra longwing (Heliconius charitonius) is our featured butterfly this week. This graceful Lepidoptera is native from South America to South Texas and Florida, and occasionally an immigrant can be found as far north as Nebraska! The zebra longwing is the state butterfly of Florida.

One very interesting thing about these beauties is that they roost communally in groups of 25-30 butterflies. In our exhibit they tend to use the same branch night after night and can be seen in the morning all resting together. These friendly butterflies even eat together, bask together (open their wings to gain warmth from the sun), and take flying trips together around the house.

The zebra longwing is extremely calm and easy to approach, so it’s a super fun addition to our butterfly family. You’re sure to see some on your next visit to Butterflies & Blooms.

PHOTO: Zebra longwings rest together
Zebra longwings resting together on their favorite branch.
PHOTO: Zebra longwings basking
A trio of zebra longwings basking together in the sun.

©2013 Chicago Botanic Garden and my.chicagobotanic.org

Fireworks for the Grill: Herb Brushes

It’s the season for grilling—time to share a simple, herb-related trick with the grill master at your house.

PHOTO: rosemary sprigs tied to a wooden spoon make an herb brush
Wooden spoon + rosemary + garden twine = herb brush

Fashion an herb brush out of a wooden spoon, a bit of kitchen twine, and freshly-snipped twigs of rosemary. Use the aromatic brush to flavor roasting meats like lamb, chicken, or pork—just dip it into marinade or olive oil and apply liberally.

Another rosemary trick: Try threading chunks of meat onto rosemary skewers for a delicious infused kabob. Genius!

PHOTO: homemade sage grill brush.
A beautiful plant in the garden, sage is most familiar as the flavoring in stuffing—but it makes a great grill brush, too!

A sage brush is perfect for sweeping marinades onto grilled chicken. After the meat is cooked, snip the herb into softened butter to create sage butter to serve along with it at the table.

The genus Salvia comes from the Latin word salvere, “to save or to heal,” hence this herb’s connection to long life and good health. A wonderful wish, indeed!

PHOTO: snipping tarragon for a garnish.
After using your tarragon brush on grilled fish, snip the herbs over vegetables as a garnish.

French tarragon easily becomes a grill brush for basting butter or marinades onto grilled fish. Just before serving, snip the “brush bristles” atop steamed new potatoes for a flavorful finishing garnish.

Join us for more tips, plus fun, facts, and fragrance at the Garden’s Herb Garden Weekend, July 27-28!


©2013 Chicago Botanic Garden and my.chicagobotanic.org

Fruit and Veggie Prints

Mealy apples, sprouted potatoes, and wilted celery, oh my! These may sound like candidates for the compost bin, but don’t toss them out just yet. Even if they aren’t fit for consumption, some fruits and veggies might be good for making prints! For younger children, this activity provides ample opportunity to practice color, fruit, and vegetable identification and hone their gross-motor skills. Older children may be interested to know that different foods come from different parts of the plant. Here is the recipe for a fun and educational activity that will foster creativity in children of all ages. 

 

Supply List: A variety of fresh fruits and vegetables; sharp knife; cutting board; large, washable stamp pads or tempera paint; paper or plastic plate; and paper

Set-up time: 5 – 10 minutes

Activity Time: 10 minutes – 45 minutes

Appropriate for Ages: 2 and up

Clean-up Time: 5 minutes

Select a variety of fruits and vegetables for different sizes, shapes, and textures or for the plant part we eat.

  • Carrot – root
  • Celery – stem
  • Potato – tuber (a fleshy underground  stem)
  • Brussels sprout, cabbage – leaves
  • Broccoli – flower
  • Orange, lemon, pepper, apple – fruit
  • Corn on the cob – seeds

Using a large kitchen knife and cutting surface, cut the fruit and vegetables different ways to get different effects during stamping. Celery is the most versatile; you can create rosette, crescent moons, and lines from celery. Most other fruits and vegetables can be cut lengthwise and crosswise.

  • Tip: Make the cut as flat as possible to provide an even printing surface.

Provide a flat working surface, such as a kitchen countertop or patio table. Put out the fruit and vegetable stamps, paper, and nontoxic and water-based stamp pads or plastic plates with a thin layer of tempera paint. Press the stamp into the stamp pad or paint, then firmly press the stamp onto the paper. Younger children may focus more on the tactile experience of stamping, while older children may create a more cohesive design. 

  • Tip: It may take a few attempts before the stamp is appropriately saturated.
  • Tip: Young children love to mix colors together, so put out one color at a time if you don’t want this to happen.

After your prints dry, grab your crayons and markers to embellish them. You can even use fruit and vegetable printing to make your own wrapping paper and cards.   


PHOTO: prints made from a lemon.
Lemon prints!

Make fruit and veggie prints at  Grunsfeld Children’s Growing Garden Drop-in Activities from July 20 to 26.

For details about other drop-in activities and more fun for the family, go to chicagobotanic.org/forfamilies.


©2013 Chicago Botanic Garden and my.chicagobotanic.org

Butterflies in Print

PHOTO: hand-colored copper engraving.
Hand-colored copper engraving from Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium

The Lenhardt Library hosts remarkable exhibitions throughout the year. These exhibitions highlight parts of the collection that visitors might not otherwise see, and the exhibitions are among the Garden’s best-loved secrets! Stacy Stoldt, public services manager of the Lenhardt Library, curated the current exhibition, Butterflies in Print: Lepidoptera Defined, open now through August 18.

By far, the highlight is Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium (Metamorphosis of Surinam Insects) by Maria Sibylla Merian, published in 1719 in Amsterdam. This volume is on loan from the Owen H. Wangensteen Historical Library of Biology and Medicine, Bio-Medical Libraries, University of Minnesota.

 

PHOTO: illustration by Maria Sibylla Merian
An illustrated panel by Maria Sibylla Merian

See Butterflies in Print: Lepidoptera Defined at the Lenhardt Library through August 18, 2013.

PHOTO: Anna Maria Sibylla Merian from the 500 DM Banknote.
Maria Sibylla Merian, from the 500 deutsche mark bank note

Maria Sibylla Merian (1647–1717) was a fascinating woman, artist, and naturalist. While she was known for her watercolor paintings of flowers and insects, embroidery patterns, and copper engravings, she is also credited with being the founder of German entomology. At age 13 she began studying the metamorphoses of silkworms and butterflies. After five years of intense study, Merian found that adult insects actually lay eggs, disproving the earlier theory that caterpillars were born out of spontaneous generation.

Divorced in 1699, she traveled with her daughter Dorothea to the Dutch Colony of Surinam (now known as Suriname) that same year to continue her entomological work and art. Her spectacular artistic abilities and scientifically accurate representations make Metamorphosis of Surinam Insects a monumental tome. Carl Linnaeus consulted Merian’s illustrations in the course of his taxonomic work in the eighteenth century. Nine species of butterflies, six plants, and two beetles were named for her. She is still a well-known historic figure today and is represented on the 500 deutsche mark bank note and a German postage stamp; she was the subject of Google’s Doodle of the day on April 2, 2013, celebrating her 366th birthday.

Butterflies in Print was designed to complement the Butterflies & Blooms exhibition that showcases native and tropical live butterflies; Maria may have even seen some of these species in Suriname 300 years ago!

Want to know more about our rare books? Read Stories from the Rare Book Collection, monthly highlights from our collection written by curator Ed Valauskas.


©2013 Chicago Botanic Garden and my.chicagobotanic.org