Archives For Karen Z.

True Garden Love Stories

Summer of Love

Karen Z. —  July 20, 2014 — Leave a comment

Of all the summer evening sights at the Chicago Botanic Garden, only one can compete with the flowers: the brides.

38 Weddings at the Garden in 2013!

Beautiful in their gowns, stepping delicately into the Krasberg Rose Garden or walking down toward the fountain at the Esplanade, they trail bridesmaids and tuxedoed men and happy families. As they pass, we onlookers stop in our tracks, smile goofily, gawk unabashedly…and let our thoughts turn to romance.

Over the years, the Garden has been the site of many a romantic story for both staff and visitors.With summer in full swing—and romance in the air—here are a few more of our favorites.

2013: It Takes a Flash Mob

Early on a 2013 summer evening, a seemingly random group of visitors slowly gathered at “the Ken,” the lovely green field with the photo-perfect view of the Elizabeth Hubert Malott Japanese Garden. As a young couple approached, a few people walked out on the grass, took their places, cued the music, and began to dance. Popping up from benches and stepping out from trees, others skipped into the action…and suddenly the young man of the couple jumped into the flash mob and joined the choreography, while his girlfriend threw her hands up to her face in surprise. 

PHOTO: A group of people dancing on the Ken, a green field in front of the Japanese Garden.

When the music finished, the crowd of friends and family formed an aisle, and the young man lowered to his knee to propose.

 

PHOTO: Wedding proposal at the Garden.

She said yes.

2008: Starting off on the Right Track 

The engineers in the Model Railroad Garden: Landmarks of America love to tell the story of the groom-to-be who worked closely with them on a one-of-a-kind, finely-timed marriage proposal.

Strolling leisurely through the Model Railroad Garden with his girlfriend, the thoughtful young man arrived at a pre-determined spot just as a miniature train pulled up (guided by engineers in the wings). Surrounded by a curious crowd (and the wedding party-to-be), he stepped over to the track, reached down to the flower-bedecked gondola car that bore an engagement ring in a box, and dropped to one knee to ask for his lady’s hand. She said yes. 

2005: Where to Hide a Ring in Spring

PHOTO: Heather Sherwood and husband Tommy.

She said yes—Heather and husband Tommy married in McGinley Pavilion.

Like any workplace, the Garden has its share of romantic stories starring staff, too.

For horticulturist Heather Sherwood, the story began with a memorable date: 5/5/05. She worked late that day, and was ready to head for home when her beau came by and insisted on a stroll around the Garden to see the tulips in bloom. After quite a long walk, they came to the Graham Bulb Garden, where he asked her to look at something strange inside one of the bright red tulips planted there. Leaning in, she saw something…shining. He reached down, pulled out the diamond ring he’d hidden there, and proposed on the spot.

1989: Dedicated to the One I Love

PHOTO: A tree tag labeled, "Will you marry me?"

When you make a tribute gift of a tree at the Garden, a tree tag marks your personal dedication. See what other tribute dedications you can make here.

It’s 25 years later, but the hybrid paperbark maple tree in the Waterfall Garden that bears the dedication “Will you marry me?” (Scott asked Laura; she said yes) is still called the “marry me tree” by our staff.

(Curious romantic? Find this unusual maple near a bench at the path split between the third and top levels of the garden. In fall, its leaves turn a brilliant red, and in winter, its cinnamon-brown bark peels to reveal beautiful texture amid the snows of winter.)

Sketch by artist Tuki79 of deviantart.com of Chip and Dale Disney chipmunks.Timeless: “Oh No, I Do Insist!”

A former horticulturist recounts having weeks of critter problems in the Heritage Garden, when a man dressed in a chipmunk costume sauntered into her garden, grabbed her, and started dancing. Turned out to be her future husband, who asked her there and then to marry him.

Love: it’s in bloom at the Garden.

Daisy Chain

Music and Dance to Enhance Your Romance

Daisy Chain

©2014 Chicago Botanic Garden and my.chicagobotanic.org

A Flower-Powered Picnic

Summer of Love

Karen Z. —  July 19, 2014 — Leave a comment

What does your mental checklist look like when you think “romantic evening”? Does it include picnicking? Flowers? Music? Dancing? Sunsets? Selfies? Walking hand in hand?

Spur-of-the-moment picnic? We have you covered.

PHOTO: Grilled salmon over a bed of julienned greens.

The Garden Grille is open ’til 9 every evening (last order, 8:30 p.m.) and, yes, you can get it to go!

On Monday nights at the Chicago Botanic Garden, start with the first item on this list, and all the rest should fall right into place. That’s because Monday night is picnic night. It’s also Carillon Concert night—but more on that in a moment.

A romantic picnic need not be formal or fancy. The secret to making it romantic is a personal touch—something that both reflects your personality and makes the evening more fun. It could be a picnic blanket with a story. It could be real plates/glasses/flatware instead of plastic. It could be a home-cooked meal or an out-of-the-ordinary beverage.

One of our favorite ways to make picnic fare more special—whether it’s homemade or store-bought—is with edible flowers.

Dress your picnic with love.

Gathered from your garden or from a trusted source (no florists or foraged flowers, please—read why here), edible flowers can make even the simplest dish taste more interesting and look decidedly more romantic:

Edible flowers.

PHOTO: Pansy blossom

Violas or pansies come in beautiful and dramatic colors (including near-black), and are shaped like little hearts. Their flavor is sweet and perfumed. Conversation starter: the word “pansy” comes from the French “pensée,” or “thought.”

PHOTO: Nasturtium blossom

Nasturtium flowers’ summery colors—yellow, orange, red—beg to be tossed into salad greens, where they’ll deliver a bit of bite (peppery, radish-like). Decorate cheeses, dips, and even a humble potato salad with nasturtiums’ edible blossoms (the pretty leaves are edible, too).

PHOTO: Rose petals

Rose petals are quintessentially romantic. Use the petals from heirloom roses rather than hybrids—the former have the fragrance and thin delicacy that the latter do not. Add rose petals to salads, ice creams, homemade vinegars; candied, they’ll store for months.

PHOTO: Lavender blossom

Lavender buds are delicious sprinkled on a fruit salad (terrific with berries, cherries, figs). Lavender has more than fragrance and flavor to offer: it’s a natural source of calcium, iron, and vitamin A.

PHOTO: Chive blossom.

Chive blossoms are so beautifully purple that you’ll be tempted to use them on everything, but a little of their onion flavor goes a long way. Float a few florets on a chilled potato-leek or spring pea soup for all the extra zip you’ll need.

Carillon concerts every Monday night in summer—be there with bells on!

PHOTO: View of the carillon from the Nautilus.

Tables at the Nautilus on Evening Island are a great place for a Carillon Concert picnic.

Now back to the third item on the checklist: music. Monday night is Carillon Concert night, when carillonneurs (such a great word) local, national, and international take the stage to new heights at our 48-bell carillon. With such a global lineup, the musical repertoire is always rich and surprising. Dancing is, of course, both spontaneous and encouraged.

Picnickers can gather any time before the 7 p.m. concerts. (Every 15 minutes between 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. there’s a carillon tour and demo—a great way to break the ice and/or keep the kids intrigued.) The lawn at McGinley Pavilion is a favorite spot to set up your picnic—and to prepare for those selfies, as the sunsets are simply spectacular.

As for the last item on the checklist—walking hand in hand—we’ll leave that to you.

Daisy Chain

©2014 Chicago Botanic Garden and my.chicagobotanic.org

10 Romantic Getaways at the Garden

Summer of Love

Karen Z. —  July 15, 2014 — Leave a comment

It’s a warm summer evening, and you’re at the Chicago Botanic Garden with someone special. The food’s been great, and the music sounds terrific…time to grab his/her hand and head out for a romantic stroll.

Hot Summer Nights

Dance outdoors on weeknights! Enjoy swing, Latin jazz, samba, bluegrass, big band, country, rock ’n’ roll, and salsa.

Be guided by the GardenGuide app.

Download the Garden Guide app at www.chicagobotanic.org/app.

Think of it as a personal docent: access our Garden app for fun/interesting tours around the grounds.

Find the places where the two of you can hear the music across the water, take in a different view, and have a bench all to yourselves. Our top ten hideaways at the Garden:

  1. Stop and smell the roses. In between the entrance to the Krasberg Rose Garden and the Linden Allée is a tiny terrace, tucked behind a hedge. The chairs there are perfect for taking in the scent of the thousands of roses in summer bloom.
  2. Where light dances on water. In summer, the bridges to Evening Island—the Arch Bridge, the Serpentine Bridge—are lit at night. You can spend hours watching the reflections in the water.
  3. Around the council rings. On Monday nights, the Carillon Concerts sound incredible from either of the council rings on Evening Island. Pack a picnic to eat at the Nautilus terrace, then head up either hill, and enjoy the sound. 
  4. Get there before 6 p.m. While the Regenstein Fruit & Vegetable Garden stays open just until 6 p.m., it’s worth the early walk to sit out at the grape arbor’s overlook and take in the fountain view back toward the Esplanade.
  5. The pre-sunset prairie. Long summer evenings mean long summer walks: out in Dixon Prairie, the plants grow taller than your head late in the season, and the light filters through the grasses as the sun lowers in the sky.
  6. Have you discovered the Kleinman Family Cove yet? We think the Cove is one of the prettiest places at the Garden in the evening—perfect for listening to the natural chorus of frogs, birds, and insects.
  7. A view to the east. Turn left at the top of the Dwarf Conifer Garden stairs and head up the path—the bench at the crest has a stunning view of the Elizabeth Hubert Malott Japanese Garden.
  8. Where white flowers bloom. McGinley Pavilion is always planted with wedding-appropriate white flowers—beautiful and fragrant in the evening, and a lovely spot to sit near the water.
  9. The Circle Garden’s secret gardens. There’s a pair of them, one on each side of the Circle Garden. You’re just steps away from the Regenstein Center, but it feels like miles away…
  10. The Pergola Garden at the English Walled Garden. Bubbling fountains, hanging wisteria, and a bench that’s painted the quintessential blue…perfect place for a selfie of the two of you.


PHOTO: Nymphaea 'Pamela'.

Daisy Chain

©2014 Chicago Botanic Garden and my.chicagobotanic.org

Roses That Say Love

Summer of Love

Karen Z. —  July 15, 2014 — 3 Comments

The Krasberg Rose Garden is naturally romantic. As with fine wines, the descriptive words for roses are rich and varied. Among the 5,000-plus rose bushes planted are some that speak the language of love through their names.

Roses That Say Love

PHOTO: Love rose.

‘Love’—Big. Scarlett. Fragrant. The very definition of a romantic rose.

PHOTO: Tiffany rose.

‘Tiffany’—Rosy pink, strong fragrance, and the perfect name for a proposal.

PHOTO: Love and Peace rose.

‘Love and Peace’—A beautiful combination: yellow, edged in pink. And that fragrance!

PHOTO: Starry Night rose.

Starry Night™—Five pure white petals sparkle like the stars in your true love’s eyes.

In Victorian times, red roses said “love,” pink roses said “like,” and yellow roses said “friend me”—or close enough. Victorian "Like" button.

Some roses speak of love through scent. American historian Alice Morse Earle writes the following in “Old Time Garden”: “The fragrance of the sweetest rose is beyond any other flower scent, it is irresistible, enthralling; you cannot leave it.” Breathe deeply, and perhaps you’ll detect myrrh, musk, apple, cinnamon, grape, damask, lemon, vanilla, pepper, pine…and, of course, tea, one of the richest of rose scents. 

PHOTO: Rosa 'Jacarque'.

Honey Perfume™—The perfect name for a strongly spicy, apricot-yellow rose

PHOTO: Rosa 'Jactanic'.

Moondance™—The clusters of clear white flowers give off the scent of raspberries.

PHOTO: Rosa x odorata 'Lover's Lane'.

‘Lover’s Lane’—A rich red cultivar of Rosa × odorata, the genus of all tea-scented Chinese roses

PHOTO: Rosa 'AUSbord'.

Gertrude Jekyll— The classic scent of old roses is strong in this big, ruffly, old-fashioned rose.

Is there a more beautiful background than the Rose Garden? Two-thirds of visitors take photos here.
Rings

Finally, some roses have romantic stories to tell. The Portland rose (Rosa ‘Comte de Chambord’) was a gift to the Empress Josephine, who established the greatest rose garden of its time at Malmaison. The cabbage rose (Rosa x centifolia), known as the “100-petaled rose,” is a beloved subject and symbol in Dutch still-life paintings. Autumn Damask rose (Rosa ‘Autumn Damask’), is an Old Garden Rose with a 3,000-year-old connection to the cult of Aphrodite, the goddess of love. 

Take an evening stroll through the roses, and find romance in the Rose Garden. 

Daisy Chain

©2014 Chicago Botanic Garden and my.chicagobotanic.org

Named for the countryside herbs growing in the hills of southern France, this Today’s Harvest infographic brings you Herbes de Provence!