Near the entrance of the main building, the ticket kiosk for the popular site-seeing tram handed tickets to a group of senior citizens who promptly took their seats; their purses propped on their laps, in quiet contemplation of the great outdoors.
Inside, curators managed the surprisingly large crowd for this cold, Spring Thursday, issuing tickets and brochures of the myriad upcoming events at the gardens. A quick glance and I was promised an April filled with spring planting seminars, visiting chef demonstrations, tai chi and yoga classes, and antiques and garden fair. The gift shop salesclerks bustled about fetching items from high shelves, handling delicate treasures, such as blown-glass hummingbird feeders, and informatively offering suggestions on planting bulbs.
Across the way, the café, filled with a lunch crowd who appeared to come here just for the food, dished up homemade soups, foccacia sandwiches, tempting pizza, salads and French bakery style desserts for a reasonable price. Diners were already taking seats on the sun-drenched outdoor patio where swans plied the pond in an effortless water ballet.
You'd have thought from all this that it was mid-summer, but in truth, it was still downright cold. The natives didn't seem to mind. Birds were singing, herons flew conspicuously over the field of daffodils that covered the distant hill on their way back to the wet prairie. The blooming season had officially opened with a grand celebration of life.
Considering that the blooming season in Chicago is relatively short, it's impressive to consider the overwhelming support this world-class park receives. Nearly one million people visit the Chicago Botanical Gardens each year and its 23 floral display gardens situated on over 385 acres in Highland Park, Illinois.
It's no wonder. The extensive programs offered along with and devoted work of volunteers ensures that this grand garden always remains well traveled and utilized to its fullest potential.
But it’s the gardens that inspire the interest and devotion. The circle garden, which excites gardeners and delights everyone else with its brilliant display of year-round blooms, the walled English garden that appears taken from the pages of a Victorian novel, the Japanese gardens with three islands, authentic teahouse and picturesque bridges all offer a sense of serenity and wonder. Nearby, the waterfall garden, which cascades down a meandering path and splashes majestically into the lake, arouses the senses again with its energetic displays.
The diversity of visitors during my visit speaks for the universal appeal of the gardens. Braving the cold, couples and girl friends, seniors and school children, people of all races and nationalities, strolled the grounds, marveling once again as I did, that spring had really returned to Chicago.
Results 1-3of 3 Reviews
May 24, 2009
by smmmarti guide
May 13, 2002
From journal Chicago: Heartland and Comforts
February 9, 2001
From journal Suburban Chicago Destinations: Icing on the Cake