Every spring, like clockwork, my husband and I get the garden store bug. One minute we are noshing on a home-cooked weekend breakfast, you know the kind with treats like French toast or waffles, and the next minute we are en route to a garden store.
During our five years of marriage, we have grown everything from strawberries and Greek oregano, to orchids and aloe vera, in our apartment. We may have lost a few good plants along the way (I never claimed to have a green thumb.), but every spring we try and try again. Check out a trio of our favorite garden stores to experience this season.
For the foodie
Gethsemane Garden Center in the Andersonville/Edgewater neck of the woods is our go-to spot. One year, we had the hardest time narrowing our fresh herb choices and finally picked out a spectrum of green beauties from lemon basil to garlic chives. They have so many varieties of a single edible plant it will blow your mind. Last year they offered nine types of raspberries! If you have never been to Gethsemane, the Annual Spring Open House on April 8 could be ideal for a family visit as there will be kid-friendly planting activities and special music just for little ears.
For the gift giver
With Mother’s Day just around the corner, it would be really hard not to find something for your mom at Chalet in Wilmette. The indoor space is packed with gorgeous gifts from soy-based candles to bubble bath. One year, I found a stunning orchid and then had fun choosing from all of the neat rows of pots for its perfect home. The expansive outdoor area feels more like a botanic garden than a store. You can wander around and gaze at statues, happy flowers and blossoming trees.
For the for real gardeners (and aspiring green thumbs like me)
This spring we kicked off our garden store adventures early and brought our toddler Isaiah along for the ride. Urhausen Greenhouses is tucked away on side streets in Lincolnwood. My husband and I have both lived close to this area for most of our lives and had no idea it was even there before last Saturday! As our car emerged from the gravel driveway, the glittering glass greenhouse spanning a canvas of blue sky immediately surprised and impressed me. Opening the door gave that same burst of humid, fresh air that I basked in at the Lincoln Park Conservatory. There were seemingly endless rows of plants and flowers and people quietly focused on the production work of the spring planting season. We left Isaiah’s stroller in the car and carried him, which ended up being a good call as some of the aisles would not have been wide enough for his toddler mobile. Late May would be an ideal time to stop in as the fruit of all of the planting labor is paying off. I am heading back for “no work” tomatoes, peppers and eggplants! You don’t have to transplant them from the temporary pot to a permanent one.
Now that you have some solid garden ground to explore, pack up the kiddos and head out. Once you bring home the bounty, Shannan Younger’s recent post has some great tips on planting with kids. You are all set, so go plant away a day with your family!