Last weekend I was in Chicago and had a chance to visit the Chicago Botanic Gardens.
There were three special exhibitions: "Brazil in Chicago," "Fall Flowers," and the
"Illinois Orchid Show and Sale." You enter the Gardens across this bridge, which is hung
with chrysanthemum blankets of "Firefall Garden Chrysanthemums."
There were also boxes of "Firefall Mums" along the bridge.
And then you come to the Esplanade and the first show, "Brazil in Chicago."
For those of us in South Florida, it looks like our street, but in Chicago, all of these
Brazilian plants are highly exotic and unusual. The Gardens emphasize plants which
will grow in the Chicago climate, but they also like to show off the fauna of other parts
of the world as well. Brazil is the most bio-diverse country in the world with more varieties
of plants and animals than any other country.
A series of beds were filled with plants from Brazil. On the left is Zamia Palm, which feels
like cardboard, then Blue Mexican Sage, Hawaiian Punch Elephant Ears, grayish Bismarck
Palms, and another variety of blue sage.
Bromeliads are one of the most common plants in Brazil and come in many sizes, shapes,
and colors. This was a colorful chartreuse and wine color.
In the left foreground is a decorative grass, then Bolivian Honeysuckle, behind are Praetoria
Orange Cannas, and then dark Red Leaf Hibiscus.
Hawaiian Punch Elephant Ears / Colocasia are very large leafed plants.
"Miagos" is a bright decorative grass.
"Blue Tango Bromeliad" has pale green leaves and blue and white stalks of flowers.
It is also called the Urn Plant.
Bismark Palms, Hawaiian Punch Elephant Ears, and Mexican Blue Sage.
The tall plants are Bismarck Palm, Praetoria Cannas, and Red Leaf Hibiscus.
Many beds of Brazilian plants.
Then we turn to the left, climb a few stairs, and we are in the Heritage Garden. This
consists of three waterlily ponds, an open terrace in the center, and a series of sections
around the outside in a circle which feature plants of different parts of the world and of
different plant families.
These are all Bromeliads. The tower is an armature of steel with sacks of potting soil. They
punch holes in these and insert the bromeliads of various colors. The pots in front have
"Yellow Fruit Bromeliads."
Yellow Cannas. They are planted in pots in the ponds; they will be taken inside
during the winter, although the plants are quite hardy. My mother always had
splendid red cannas in the front yard in Chicago.
This is "South America." The blue is "Senorita Rosita Spider Plant" and the copper is
"Autumn Pallette Red Amaranth." The large leaf is 'Castor Bean."
"Yellow Ornamental Peppers." These are strictly for looking; they are not edible.
But they are grown in many colors. These plants were quite large, about three feet high.
"Orange ornamental Peppers." These are about a foot high.
"Orange Sneezeweed / Helenium" and "Blue Sage."
"Balloon Flowers." They are a little larger than tennis balls and very soft.
The bush is covered in hundreds of them. They are in "Africa."
"Red Castor Beans" are also from Africa.
Red Castor Bean.
"Europe" has these "Mohave Orange Strawflowers."
"Deep Raspberry Strawflowers." These can be dried, and they will stay
colorful all winter in a bouquet.
The section on "Japan" features chrysanthemums. These are "Dolliette Yellow Spider
Magnificent "Lavender Spider Mums" about 7 inches across.
"Yellow Brush Style Spoon Mums." Look at the edge of each petal, which looks
like a little spoon.
This is the "Japan Bed" with chrysanthemums and in the center "Vanilla Strawberry
"Vanilla Strawberry Panicle Hydrangeas" and "Lavender Spider Mums."
"Vanilla Strawberry Panicle Hydrangea"
"Vanilla Strawberry Panicle Hydrangea"
In the center were beds with "Oopsy Daisy Pot Marigolds."
"Orange King" Pot Marigolds were mixed with the yellow "Oopsy Daisy" marigolds.
The three waterlily ponds were filled with many colors of flowers. The water is tinted
black to make the flowers stand out, and the flowers are all taken inside for the winter.
Two pale blue waterlilies. They each bloom for only a day.
This was a beautiful new variety for me, with colors ranging from magenta to pink to peach
to cream and then to yellow in the center. In the morning when I arrived, it was still a bud,
but by the time I finished lunch, it was in full bloom.
This also was totally new - a Double White Water Lily.
"Pink Cannas." Each of the ponds features a different color of cannas.