Look Who SHOWed Up!

Here is my report on the 2017 Chicago Flower & Garden Show. All that preparation paid off, and we had a great time.

First Impressions

Before we even had our group photo taken, April noticed the fragrance of this lovely white rose, Sugar Moon. Ahhh!

Display Gardens

I’ll start with my favorite: “Upcycle Your Outdoor Rooms.” If you follow me on Pinterest, you know I love recycling things for the garden.

The sound and motion at this corner of Aquascape’s display (pictured below) inspired me to try my first “Facebook Live” video. (If that doesn’t shoot me into social media fame, I don’t know what will!)

Outside corner of Aquascape’s display garden – 3/24/17

Posted LIVE from the garden show!

As fun as the cascading water and chains were, they are beyond the reach of most mere mortals. Aquascape always shows a wide range of their products. I liked this example of a nice little fountain one could do in front of a small house. Wouldn’t that look sweet in my front yard?

For my favorite Cubs fan, the handyman husband, I have to include a picture of the World Series Cubs Tribute garden. GO CUBS!

Presented by Moore Landscape and Dekker Chrysanthemums

Nothing else really struck me in the display gardens. As my gardener friends and I have noted for the last few years, the garden show is not what it used to be. It seems like there are fewer and/or smaller display gardens and not many “wows.”

Other Features

Seminars – Depending on how well the topics of the day fit your interests, the seminars can be the highlight of the show. This turned out to be true for me this year: I went to three and enjoyed them all. My favorite was Carol Chicorski’s “These Are a Few of Our Favorite Things.” She had asked all the gardeners she knows, famous or not, what their favorite garden things are and shared their responses with us. Besides the lovely plant recommendations (that I tend to forget about later–alas!), I’ve added a new garden tool to my wish list: the Root Slayer.  After listening to another speaker, Gina Iliopoulos, I’ve decided that I must stop using black colored mulch in my front yard bed even though I love how it looks.  The best replacement would be shredded leaf mulch, but I do not know of a local source (yet).

As for the speakers on the main floor, I avoided those because they were aimed at beginner gardeners. We could hear the speaker at the Gardening Live stage as we walked through the display gardens. Diane noted that he just kept talking about himself–not about gardening! What little advice I overheard was simplistic (how to water houseplants) and lame (“Compost will fix most of your garden diseases.”).

Chef Martial Noguier, Executive Chef and owner of Bistronomic

Cooking Demonstrations – I love to go to cooking classes! It’s much better than watching cooking shows on TV because you actually get to taste the food you’re seeing the chefs make. I made it to only one Garden Gourmet session, and I was relieved to find it was much better than the one my friends had gone to earlier. (They were quite disappointed because they could not understand the chef, printed recipes were not available, and–worst of all–they got NO SAMPLES!) I enjoyed watching Chef Noguier and his wife from Bistronomic show us how to make Broccoli Velouté, and we each got the recipe and a delightful (and garlicky) sample to taste.

Scented geraniums from Ted’s Greenhouse

Vendors – I did not buy anything from the vendors this year. Only my husband would consider that to be a good sign! In the past I’ve bought jewelry made with dried flowers, ornamental stuff for the garden, bulbs to plant (those did not work out well for me), and one year I found the vendor from whom I would later buy my rain barrels. Friends of mine have bought gutters, wheeled tote bags, hose nozzles and other garden tools. This year we bought nothing!

Ted’s Greenhouse had a lot of good stuff, but there’s no reason for me to buy things they’ve carted to Navy Pier only to cart it all the way back home when their nursery is just a few miles from us. (Let the north siders do that.) I do love their scented geraniums! That is where I bought the replacement for my lemon-rose geraniums when they died.

Other Takeaways – I always enjoy the tablescapes at the Flower & Garden Show because I love entertaining and creating pretty displays at home. The two things that caught my eye, however, were not on the tables. The bicycle covered with Juicy Fruit wrappers reminds me of the bikes in my kitchen garden. The strings of plain lightbulbs draped on a brick wall might be a good idea for our basement, which we’re (still) remodeling. I didn’t see a source for those lights, but I think they were like these Smith & Hawkin Drop String Lights.

This is what my garden bikes looked like last summer (before they were covered with cucumber vines and then later swallowed up  by nasturtiums). I’m thinking about painting them completely lime green. What do you think?

I used bikes as cucumber trellises. – 6/21/16

We did not have any children with us, but the Kids’ Activities looked fun (Shout out to the Master Gardeners! I miss the days when they did a display garden.) As for the Potting Parties–I don’t know. I’ve never tried them: the additional cost hinders me. Plus, I don’t want to deal with getting my arrangement home in good condition. (Remember, our car was full of people!) But it’s obviously an attractive part of the show so if you’re interested, go for it!

More Pictures and More Garden Shows

This is the first time in several years that I’ve managed to report on the show here. (The last time was in 2012.) That’s because this is a very busy time of year as my seed starting is in full swing. I usually don’t have time to sort through the many pictures I take–let alone write about them!

That said, I’m experimenting with another way to share all those other pictures whether I ever get around to writing about them or not. I’ve created a Shutterfly share site called The Gardener Wife. (That’s how my husband refers to me in his Facebook posts. I like it!) Feel free to go there and check it out. Tell me what you think! That is where I’ve posted all my pictures from this garden show.

If I like how this works out, I may go back and post pictures from past garden shows and garden walks.




About A Well Watered Garden

Rea is my last name, and Chez Rea is what we call our home and family. That’s French for the Rea House, and it rhymes. Say “shay ray” and you’re pronouncing it right.
This entry was posted in Garden Talks and Shows, Master Gardeners. Bookmark the permalink.

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