As a Chicago gardener, I cant wait for a charming array of flowers to take over the city. Ive already spotted colorful tulips at neighbors houses and weeping willows making its transition to the sunny climate. Im sure our cosmos and tiger lilies are eager to decorate our backyard garden, just as a renewed membership to a botanical garden will decorate our days in this season of blossoms.
There is one note worth mentioning: no matter where you are in Chicago, beautiful flowers can and will be seen all over, in the smallest of neighborhood spots and in the most majestic of places. All one has to do is master the art of flower viewing, which simply translates to keeping your eyes open for the beautiful things in life.
So, where to start?
In the search for lovely flowers, some well-known places to start are The Lurie Garden in downtown Chicago, The Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe, Garfield Park Conservatory in Garfield Park, The Morton Arboretum in Lisle and Cantigny Park in Wheaton.
You must remember though, sometimes the best places for those newborn or sibling shots amongst flowers can be right in your backyard. Think community gardens: schools, sidewalks, parks, restaurants.
Our family has found a great spot in the Portage Park neighborhood near the condominiums on Berteau and Narragansett. Theres a fountain, flowers and a path!
3501 N. Kilbourn Ave., Chicago
Kilbourn Park features native Illinois flowers and delicious edible plants. Perhaps the Garden Buddies program, its annual plant sale or its harvest festival featuring hands-on crafts, organic gardening demonstrations and cooking demonstrations will inspire your family to take flower-watching to the next level: gardening!
1425 N. Damen Avenue, Chicago
Spread across 10,000 square feet of space, is a home to beautiful blooms, bir
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 Mothers 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 Isaiahs 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 dont have to transplant
Put away the winter gloves and pull out the gardening gloves! Now is the perfect time to get kids excited about gardening. And you dont even need a lot of space to grow beautiful flowers and delicious vegetables.
Gardening with your little ones can be both fun and educational, and there are several places that offer ideas, inspiration and instructionright here in Chicagoland.
The Lurie Garden in the southeast corner of Millennium Park is steps away from skyscrapers and really exemplifies the concept of urban gardening. Its great for a one-time visit focused on discovering everything in the garden, and you can download a worksheet online thats aimed at kids 3-6 to help guide your visit.
The garden also offers two great programs for little ones. Little Lurie Gardeners begins on May 9 and aims to get children 1-3 singing, dancing and smelling the flowers. Little Lurie Scientists is a new program teaching about the science behind the beauty of the Lurie Garden. Its aimed at kids 3-5 and begins on May 10. The programs meet weekly for six weeks and pre-registration is required.
A trip to the zoo can also be a chance to learn about gardening! Edible Gardens in Lincoln Park Zoos Farm-in-the-Zoo complex opens to the public on April 1 and visitors can stop by on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, 9 a.m.-noon. As a program of the Green City Market, the goal of the garden is to give kids a hands-on education in where their food comes from, and to ensure that families have the knowledge, experience and inspiration to help create a sustainable food system.
The Chicago Botanic Garden offers plenty of gardening inspiration, and the Grunsfeld Childrens Growing Garden is specifically designed to teach kids about gardening. In its 10,000 square feet of space, kids can both see what plants look like as they grow in demonstration beds that are maintained by horticulturalists, and get involved in the care and keeping of plants in the learning beds, which are the perfect height for young gardeners. In addition, weekend classes and camps for kids are great ways to kids excited about gardening.
Not only can you find lots of growing and gardening inspiration at Morton Arboretum, the experts there are ready to help you and your kids launch your garden with their Arbor Day sale, which includes a selection of perennials, herbs and vegetables. The sale runs April 29-May 1. On April 29, visi