Enjoy the beauty of the display gardens from your own computer screen! These seasonal tours of the Chicago Botanic Garden are led by Garden staff and offer interesting details you might have missed on your last visit. Each garden changes throughout the year, so visit often to watch it evolve.
We learned about some of the more unusual orchids featured in the Orchid Show (purchase tickets here) when we toured with Boyce Tankersley, director of living plant documentation.
Dendrobium Comet King ‘Akatsuki’
Boyce told us we have 183 taxa of orchids in our plant collections and 53 of those are straight species found in the wild. Of course, none of our orchids are wild-collected because that does damage to the species, so the orchids we acquire are propagated through tissue culture. We display the orchids that do best in our greenhouse growing conditions, and most of those do best in the Tropical Greenhouse.
Some of the orchids Boyce shows us in the video below are Vandas, which are native to the Philippines and other islands in Southeast Asia.
Boyce shared his love of Dendrobiums and revealed a goal to visit an area of the Himalaya Mountains where they cover the oak trees. But watch out: Boyce warns us of leeches in the area! (Don’t worry, we don’t have those in our greenhouses!)
Finally, we examined an interesting ground orchid, Phaius tankervilliae ‘Rabin’s Raven’, which is growing very well in our greenhouse conditions.
Phaius tankervilliae ‘Rabin’s Raven’
Click on the video link above or watch on YouTube to get the full tour! The Orchid Show closes March 16, 2014.
Sure, you’ll see tomatoes and corn and apples at the Regenstein Fruit & Vegetable Garden—but, during the course of the growing season, we have more than 400 of the earth’s 30,000+ edible plants to see, consider, and think about cooking.
How many of the ten summer fruits and vegetables below do you recognize? Come see them in person soon—harvest is just around the corner!
Cynara cardunculus var. scolymus
1. It’s a cardoon.Cynara cardunculus var. scolymus is, at heart, a thistle. While cardoon’s cousin, the artichoke, is a more familiar food, the thick leaves of cardoon itself are edible—though preparation is…lengthy. Find cardoon in the cold frames.
Solanum lelongena ‘Hansel’
2. It’s an eggplant.Solanum melongela is showing up in markets and on menus in more shapes and colors these days, and we’re growing several varieties of them this year: white ‘Casper’, pink ‘Rosa Bianca’, bicolor ‘Udumalapet’, and this more traditional variety, ‘Hansel’.
3. It’s a medlar.Mespilus germanica or common medlar bears a little pome fruit that must be softened, or bletted, to be edible. This is the second year of excellent fruit set on our medlar tree, located just across the Fruit & Vegetable Garden bridge.
4. It’s taro.Colocasia esculenta is commonly seen in flower beds and containers—you might know it as “elephant ears.” The tuber or corm is toxic when raw—but when cooked, it’s a staple in cuisines around the world. Taro is in the pool under the wisteria arbor.
5. It’s a Mexican miniature watermelon, or gherkin.Melothria scabra grows as a vine, with dozens of cute and cucumbery fruits. Eat them fresh or pickled. You’ll find them in containers under the wisteria arbor.
Lycopersicon esculentum ‘Indigo Rose’
6. It’s a tomato.Lycopersicon esculentum has a new member in the family and…it’s blue. ‘Indigo Rose’ was bred (at Oregon State) for high anthocyanin levels, which suppressed green color while raising purple. It’s full of antioxidants and is not a GMO (it’s open-pollinated). It’s a sensation. Find it in our Backyard Garden beds and the Small Space Garden.
Capsicum annuum var. lycopersiciforme ‘Alma Paprika’
7. It’s a pepper.Capsicum annuum var. lycopersiciforme ‘Alma Paprika’ looks rather like a tomato as it turns from white to yellow to red. As its name suggests, this is the variety from which paprika is made—let it dry, then grind it to make your own.
8. It’s a quince.Cydonia oblonga is the fruit-bearing quince (different than flowering quince). In this country, many people are unfamiliar with both the look of the fruit (like a bumpy pear) and its taste (often sour and astringent, it requires cooking). Currently loaded with fruit, the quince tree is near the grape arbor.
9. It’s a fungus.Ustilago maydis is known as Huitlacoche in Mexico, where the fungus—called corn smut here—is considered a delicacy. It occurs naturally on ears of corn—we’ve found one ear with it in our Backyard Garden so far.
Borago officinalis ‘Alba’
10. It’s borage.Borago officinalis is a multitasker: the gorgeous blue flowers are edible and can be steeped as tea, the leaves add cucumber freshness to a salad, and the plant itself attracts tomato hornworms away from your tomatoes. Turn right after the bridge to see borage in the beds there. Ours, however, are the cultivar ‘Alba’—which, as you may guess, has a white flower.
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.
The perennial border in the Landscape Garden
Queen of the Prairie (Filipendula rubra) in the Native Plant Garden
Pinks (Dianthus barbatus ‘Rose Magic’) in the English Walled Garden
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.
Spring is now in full glory at the Chicago Botanic Garden, prompting us to show you the best gardens to visit right now, and hinting at what is yet to come.
We toured the Garden with Boyce Tankersley, director of plant documentation, to get some tips for making the most of your visit. Hint, hint — the crabapples are set to open this weekend, and the effect of over 200 crabapple trees in bloom along the shores of the Gardens of the Great Basin is a sight not to miss! Plus, it’s a great opportunity to try our new app!
Watch the video above to hear Tankersley offer tips to maximize your visit with our new smartphone Garden app, called GardenGuide. The app is designed to enhance and enrich your Garden visit. Using the GPS technology in your smartphone, GardenGuide will guide you to any plant or point of interest with an interactive map. Use it at home as well — the features work without GPS.
Have you ever wanted to know more about a plant you loved on your visit? Are you looking for information on a plant you want to see as you stroll the Garden today? Use the “Find” feature to pull up stunning photos or gardening information about the 2,524,687 plants in the collections database. Enter the common or Latin name, and GardenGuide will pinpoint both the plant’s location and your location so you can walk to it. A touch on the plant name will display gardening information. You can also search by plant characteristics to find types of plants. For example, is it purple, flowering, perennial, or does it have a preference for partial shade? Save the results to a favorite list for future reference, or share your plant favorites on Facebook or e-mail.
Plan your visit
Visiting with small children or a group? Use the GardenGuide to find water fountains and restrooms among other features, or to see what events are happening at the Garden during your visit. Check the Garden app for what’s in bloom, to see our event schedule, or check our open hours.
Let us guide your walk today!
Use the Garden app to learn more about featured gardens with audio tours by Kris Jarantoski, executive vice president and director of the Garden. Try a curated walking tour of our most popular display gardens. Every tour stop is accompanied by interpretation of that location. Try a 14-stop tour of the English Walled Garden, a 16-stop tour of the Elizabeth Hubert Malott Japanese Garden, a four-season photo tour, a bird-watching tour, tours for families, or a fitness walk.
We recently toured the Greenhouses with Boyce Tankersley, director of living plant documentation, to see what’s in bloom and take in the different climates visitors can enjoy.
In the Arid Greenhouse, we saw a number of species of aloe from South Africa just coming into bloom as well as cacti and succulents.
In the Tropical Greenhouse, we were surrounded by palms and cycads while we admired the many orchids in bloom. Tankersley pointed out the acanthus cultivar (Aphelandra sinclairiana ‘Panama Queen’) native to Panama and Costa Rica, as one of his favorites.
The Semitropical Greenhouse was filled with blooms like pinkball dombeya (Dombeya wallichii). Native to East Africa and Madagascar, the genus is a highly sought-after ornamental in USDA Zones 9 and warmer.
One of the rarest plants in our collections is Deppea splendens. Native to the mountains of western Mexico, this plant is extinct in the wild.
Visit 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 their fragrance and the humidity of the warmer greenhouse climates.