We stopped by the Production Greenhouses to see what they are growing for the upcoming spring garden displays. Tim Pollak, Outdoor Floriculturist, said we are growing 66,000 spring annuals and vegetables onsite this year for displays in the ground, in hanging baskets and containers.
Tim explained that the foxgloves you will see in the Circle Garden and Rose Garden were started from seed in October, grown at 42 degrees F for six weeks and brought into the greenhouse in January to grow with long days and warm temperatures to get them to bloom earlier than usual. The lupines you will see in the Heritage Garden and English Walled Garden are two years old and we plan to return them to the greenhouse for many years so they will continue to grow in size. The penstemon you will see in the Circle Garden have been growing for one year to get them to size, then overwintered in a nursery quonset and brought into the greenhouse in January to grow with long days and warm temps to get them to set flowers. Now, they are back in a quonset to slow their flowering until they are planted outside.
We are growing several species of echium (tower of jewels) for displays outside the Visitor Center as well as in the Heritage Garden and English Walled Garden. Most of the plants shown here were started from seed 18 months ago to get them to flower this spring. Echium fastuosum will grow 5-6 feet tall outside the Visitor Center, whereas Echium pininana will grow 12-14 feet tall in the Heritage Garden.
What are you most looking forward to seeing this spring?
An interesting plant has come into bloom for the first time in the Arid Greenhouse. Turquoise puya (Puya alpestris) produces brilliant turquoise flowers accentuated by intensely orange anthers. The species is native to the high desert mountains of southern Chile, and obtains almost all of its water from the morning dews that briefly precipitate water before sunrise. The long, thin, arching leaves are protected by spines along the margin that discourage herbivores from taking a bite. Learn more about this and four other plants in this week’s Bloom Highlight. http://www.chicagobotanic.org/inbloom/highlight.php
Garden scientist Nyree Zerega shows us the breadfruit tree we have planted in the Tropical Greenhouse at the Chicago Botanic Garden and talks about her research to find the relatives of this under-utilized plant. Then Mary McLaughlin from Trees That Feed tells us about her work to feed hungry people by planting these trees in tropical regions. For more information on Dr. Zerega’s research, click here. For more information on the Trees That Feed Foundation, visit www.treesthatfeed.org.
Pastry chef Kathy Skutecki shows you how to decorate gingerbread houses like the ones she made for the entrance to the Wonderland Express exhibition. Visit http://www.chicagobotanic.org/wonderland for more information.
The Third Annual Spooky Pooch Parade featured approximately 400 dogs in costume this past Saturday. This is the only day each year when dogs are permitted at the Chicago Botanic Garden. We were there to capture the fun and put together some highlights for your enjoyment. Mark your calendar for next year’s parade and get working on those creative costumes. We love to see them and you at the Garden! Visit http://www.chicagobotanic.org/dog for more photos and information.