Archives For romance

Where Love is in the Air

The Garden's Most Romantic Bridges

Karen Z. —  July 26, 2015 — 2 Comments

A bridge can be a portal, a passage, a strategic position, an arrival, a departure, or a place to meet halfway. And of course bridges can be marvelously romantic, as anyone who’s gasped at a mist-shrouded Golden Gate Bridge or taken a Parisian boat ride on the Seine can attest.

Bridges are integral to the Chicago Botanic Garden, too, built as it is on nine islands.

For a lovely summer evening, take a long walk together…cross these six romantic bridges together…and prepare for some memorable moments.

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Daisy ChainShall we Cross that Bridge?

Bridges are one of the most spectacular places at the Garden for photography—as countless brides, prom groups, families, and sweethearts can attest.

PHOTO: Trellis bridge.

Sunset frames the Trellis Bridge in golden glow.

Halfway along Evening Island, the Trellis Bridge is a surprise invitation to explore what lies on the other side. The Trellis Bridge has different acoustics than the other bridges: it goes quiet at the center. Listen for the sounds of gardens, rather than the sounds of people. Its sinuous shape and curving boards invite you to pause…and enjoy each other’s company.

PHOTO: Japanese Garden bridge.

The serene scene at the Malott Japanese Garden bridge.

Intentionally steep, the arched bridge that leads to the three islands of the Elizabeth Hubert Malott Japanese Garden forces you to slow down as you climb. At the top, you pause naturally to take a breath, to stop and lift your gaze, to look around, not just ahead of you. This bridge signals change—your passage into a very different garden and a very different mindset.

PHOTO: The Zigzag bridge at the Chicago Botanic Garden.

In good spirits? Cross the Zigzag Bridge.

Separating two of the three Malott Japanese Garden islands is the Zigzag Bridge. While legend holds that humans can elude evil spirits by crossing a zigzag bridge (because those spirits move only in straight lines), a zigzag bridge also has a practical purpose: to slow your progress, encouraging you to enjoy the beauty around you…including your sweetheart.

PHOTO: Lotus frame the ends of the Arch Bridge in midsummer.

Lotus bloom in the shallows of the Arch Bridge in midsummer.

Turn left as you leave the Malott Japanese Garden, and the very next turn brings you to the Arch Bridge, which connects to Evening Island. With its height above the water and its panoramic view, this bridge has a grand, soaring feeling. Plan to be there at sunset, when late light strikes and illuminates the bridge, making it—and the person you’re with—positively glow.

Set the SceneDine and dance every evening Monday through Thursday at the Garden to the rhythms of swing, Latin jazz, samba, bluegrass, big band, country, rock ’n’ roll, and salsa.

Return to Evening Island and you’ll soon reach the Serpentine Bridge, which carries you back to the main island. It also brings you quite close to the water, as if floating above it. Meanderingly quiet and peaceful, the Serpentine Bridge feels very protected. Fish swim just below you, lilies and lotuses rock with the breeze, and the view toward the Arch Bridge at sunset is simply glorious.

Bridges set the scene for what’s ahead, and the long boardwalk to Spider Island does that in a particularly brilliant way. Hand-hewn from black locust, the boardwalk bridges our largest island to our smallest, with an angled path lying low across the water. What could have been a short, direct, 90-degree crossing becomes instead a private journey to Spider Island’s sole, spiral path—like a tail on the curve of a question mark. 

PHOTO: Spider Island boardwalk.

Follow the path to its end, a small and private sitting area.

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©2015 Chicago Botanic Garden and my.chicagobotanic.org

Ten Romantic Spots to Pop the Question

Summer of Love

Karen Z. —  June 11, 2015 — 2 Comments

Gardens are romantic by nature. That’s why one of our most frequently asked questions is, “What’s the most romantic spot at the Garden?”

So we scoped it out, asked around, and compiled a list of our top ten most romantic spots. Now it’s up to you to…
Pop the Question.

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It’s official! Chicago Botanic Garden is voted Best Wedding Venue 2015 by Make it Better magazine! #MIBBestof2015

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PHOTO: Rose Garden arbor.

The Krasberg Rose Garden’s arbor is the perfect place to pause on a romantic stroll.

1. “Doesn’t it smell wonderful?”

Claim a bench under the Krasberg Rose Garden’s arbor and take a deep breath. Then another. Soon you’ll be discussing the bouquet of roses—one smells of musk, another of tea, a third of myrrh—just as you do a fine wine. (Which, by the way, is available at the Garden View Café.)

PHOTO: The blue bench in the niche at the English Walled Garden.

“Something borrowed, something blue…” sets the tone in the English Walled Garden.

2. “Would you like to sit here?”

With climbing hydrangeas overhead, a pergola of white wisteria just ahead, and a romantic morning glory tile inset behind you (are those leaves or hearts?), the vividly blue bench tucked into the niche at the English Walled Garden is the prettiest seat at the Garden.

3. “Shall we cross that bridge?”

On summer evenings, the bridges to Evening Island—the Arch Bridge and the Serpentine Bridge—are lit at night. A bridge is such a splendid place for a private conversation and…reflection.

PHOTO: The Serpentine Bridge at night.

The dramatically lit Serpentine Bridge is the path to summer evening romance.

4. “Can you top this?”

The top of the Waterfall Garden has it all: rushing water, a sweet arbor, birds chirping in shady trees. It’s one of the best spots at the Garden to sit…very…close.

PHOTO: Arbor at the top of the Waterfall Garden.

The peaceful hideaway atop the Waterfall Garden is a romantic destination in any season.

5. “Pics or it didn’t happen?”

Romantic memories need a great background. At the top of the Sensory Garden is the photo-worthy frame you’re looking for.

PHOTO: The view from the top of the Sensory Garden.

Tucked away in the Sensory Garden is this shady arbor, ready for a romantic moment.

6. “Want to try a new place?”

One of the newest—and therefore least-discovered—spots in the Garden is Kleinman Family Cove. (Yes, it’s open during construction on the Regenstein Foundation Learning Campus across the road.) Take advantage of the quiet, the deck that hovers over the water, and the natural chorus of frogs…

PHOTO: The Cove at dusk.

A shoreline chorus is the perfect accompaniment to your proposal at the Cove.

7. “Doesn’t that sound amazing?”

On Monday nights, carillonneurs from around the globe transform Evening Island into an outdoor concert hall. Not coincidentally, it’s also picnic night. Got the picture? A romantic picnic, the music of bells, and a secluded spot on Evening Island, where two perfectly placed rocks make a perfect seat for a perfect couple.

PHOTO: Sitting boulders at Evening Island.

Enjoy a concert for two on Monday nights from this secret spot on Evening Island.

8. “Which path do you want to take?”

A summer walk through the Dixon Prairie is inherently romantic, with grasses and prairie flowers taller than your head, and late-day light filtering through the foliage. Take the boardwalk bridge across the water to tiny Marsh Island for a memorable sunset moment.

PHOTO: The boardwalk to Marsh Island.

Prairie plants grow tall enough to hide stolen kisses off the beaten path on Marsh Island.

9. “Do you feel like a beer?”

There’s something different about this arch: it’s made from hops—which, of course, are the key ingredients in beer. Take photos under the archway, sit for a while in the Circle Garden’s very romantic “secret” side gardens, then ask the beer question. The answer will be “Yes.”

PHOTO: Arch at Circle Garden side garden.

Pop the question in one of the side gardens of the Circle Garden for a “hoppy” answer!

PHOTO: A sunset samba on the Esplanade.

Pop the question after a sunset samba on the dance floor with the best view in town: the Esplanade.

10. “May I have this dance?”

Dancing is romantic. Outdoor dancing is super romantic. Outdoor dancing at the Garden is meta romantic. And it happens every weeknight during the summer. Salsa, swing, big band, bluegrass, and jazz rock the most beautiful “dance floor” in town.

After you pop the other question…

Wonderful weddings happen at the Garden. Find out more from Connie or Kristina at events@chicagobotanic.org.

Wonderful weddings happen at the Garden.

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©2015 Chicago Botanic Garden and my.chicagobotanic.org

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

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©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'.

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©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. Scarlet. 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. 

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©2014 Chicago Botanic Garden and my.chicagobotanic.org