If the words "flower show" make you think of prim old ladies
displaying their prized roses, it's time to think again. After all,
when it comes to the Chicago Flower & Garden show, "We're not
your grandmother's flower show," says director Tony Abruscato.
In fact, the Chicago show is a family-oriented destination, more
focused on bugs and veggies than award-winning blooms.
Oh, and lots of fun.
The Kids' Activity Garden is the prime spot for families, decked
out with playground-like apparatus for kids to climb, crawl and
generally blow off some steam. And those who like to dig will find
a home in the oversized sandbox.
Plus, kids get the chance to get their hands dirty through
planting projects, arts and crafts and a visit from a University of
Illinois Master Gardener, who brings along creepy-crawlies like
centipedes, slugs and Madagascar cockroaches for an example of the
grosser side of gardening.
"The kids love the bugs," Abruscato says. "There are some fun
things to do and some educational … You can spend a lot of time
For the educational component, parents can keep an eye on the
website to see which parent/child workshops are scheduled.
Abruscato hints that there may even be a chance to build a "fairy
garden"-miniature displays that are especially popular with
But the Activity Garden isn't the only spot for those with
little ones. The show itself offers many highlights, including koi
ponds where kids can feed the fish and unusual vertical gardens
that are sure to catch their attention.
This year's theme, "The Art of Gardening," lends itself to
things like performance art and a photography display on floral
"A part of our goal is to get kids and young people interested
in gardening and greening," Abruscato says. "We do that through
ways that are fun and interesting."
He also sees it as a way to bring families together, even for a
day, and to encourage exercise. Plus, he says that kids who grow
their own vegetables at an early age are more inclined to eat
veggies for the rest of their lives. (Shh, it's our little
So this year, forget about those grannies and follow Abruscato's
advice: bring the whole family for a day of flowery fun.
Elizabeth Diffin is the senior editor at Chicago Parent. She lives in Wheaton.
See more of Elizabeth's stories here.
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