While the construction crew and the railroad guys were busy laying out the trains and buildings in Wonderland Express, 28 horticulturists and other staff members were busy building their own creations—making the wreaths that now line the Greenhouse gallery walls.
The big “now” story is that they’re all for sale.*
The big “wow” story is that behind each wreath are the hands and hearts of our horticulturists, our maintenance staff, our plant healthcare guys, our security personnel, our managers, etc. Although each person started with the same thing—a wreath form and the beauty of the Garden—we are rocked by the imagination, talent, and joy that they brought to the project.
Here are a few of their stories:
It took Cindy Nykiel (tram driver) and daughter Stacey (security) 46½ hours to engineer a wreath loaded with fun details: birch bark train cars with pistachio shell trim, black bean “coal,” and tiny battery-operated lights twinkling within the ginkgo leaf/catalpa pod bow.
The twisted palm frond rosettes are genius.
Senior horticulturist Heather Sherwood redefined starlight in three easy steps:
- Bamboo sticks duct taped together for a frame.
- Red tube lights zip-tied to the bamboo.
- Red twig dogwood, raffia-tied over it all.
Nuts for the holidays? Plant Information Service Manager Kathie Hayden pairs nuts (oak, buckeye), beans (coffee tree), and pods (honey locust, sweetgum) with an appropriately amusing mascot. All but the walnuts (store bought) were collected from Garden grounds.
Custodian Carlos García’s exuberant design is rooted in a vivid memory of a wreath he made in his fifth grade class in Ciudad Hidalgo, Michoacan, Mexico. The construction was a family affair: his kids helped with the cheery and heartfelt decorations.
Horticulturist Lisa Hilgenberg has a passion for seeds. Her stunning 11-bean-and-legume snowflake wreath celebrates the great variety found in just one species and hints at the fun we’ll be having at our second annual seed swap on February 24, 2013.
After cutting the birch trunks to size for Wonderland’s entrance hall, Exhibitions Manager Dawn Bennett took the leftover trimmings over to the carpenter shop…got out the chop saw…and turned waste into wonderful.
*Priced at $150 each, wreaths are available for pickup after January 6. Many were made with dried materials gathered at the Garden, which may last for many months indoors.
©2012 Chicago Botanic Garden and my.chicagobotanic.org