Monday, July 16, 2018

A Chicago Botanic Garden Sunset

We found ourselves on the north side of Chicagoland with a few hours to spare, the hot sun having morphed into a more-manageable evening light. While on that end of the city, we decided to make a stop at the Chicago Botanic Garden; during the summer months the gardens are open until 9pm, allowing for a twilight stroll in cooler temperatures.

Lilies in the Native Plant Garden

The Chicago Botanic Gardens are known worldwide, despite being less than 50 years old. The origins can be traced back to the Chicago Horticultural Society which was founded more than 100 years ago, and today the CBG is owned by the Forest Preserve District of Cook County and operated by the Chicago Horticultural Society. Although it had been at least a dozen years since my last visit, I knew we were in for a treat and was very much looking forward to refilling my batteries in this urban oasis.

Fountain in the English Walled Garden

Situated on 385 acres east of the Edens expressway (just north of the Skokie Lagoons), the garden is unique in that it contains six miles of shoreline, with nine islands offering a wide range of formal and more casual gardens. Although a couple of hours are not enough to see the gardens in their entirety, it is just enough for a walk around the main island through some of the more intensely managed areas.

After emerging from the Visitor Center we crossed the bridge over to the main island and started our visit in the Crescent and on the Esplanade. The views toward North Lake and the fountain were aglow in the soft evening light, and we stuck to the shoreline to reach the Native Plant Garden.

A lotus flower blooming in the Heritage Garden

The Aquatic Plant Garden is really unique, waterlilies blooming on both sides of a pier that zigzags through the water. Adjacent to it is the bulb garden, which offered some of the most fantastic color on this particular visit.

A rainbow of colors in the Bulb Garden

We crossed back through the Landscape Garden, emerging near the Circle Garden. The boys were not so excited about crossing the bridge to Spider Island once I told them it was named after the giant arachnids that live on the island (jk folks), but we persisted, and the dappled sunlight on the birches reminded me of the Latvian forests that are in every Latvian’s heart.


We cut through the Regenstein Center to see the Bonsai Collection. There are over 200 bonsai that are displayed on a rotating basis, including a Japanese white pine that has been trained for at least 100 years.

We walked around the rose garden, and the boys took turns photographing, sniffing and splashing in the fountain.

The east end is my favorite portion of the island, as paths meander and crisscross - many secluded benches, walled gardens and quiet spots just waiting to be found. We skirted the Dwarf Conifer Garden and crossed the bridge to the Japanese Garden, admiring the oranges and reds of the setting sun through the manicured pine trees. These 17 acres include three islands, but only two are open to the public; the third symbolizes paradise, in sight but elusive.

Once back on the main island the boys insisted on following the rushing waters of the Waterfall Garden up to the pond at the top of the hill. The sun started dipping below the trees, and we raced twilight in our decent.

We explored the English Walled Garden and Oak Meadow knowing our time was almost up, enchanted by the emergence of fireflies and the soft glow of the Garden’s globe lighting. Before long we crossed back to the Heritage Garden, soaking the last bit in before crossing the bridge back to the Visitor Center and the city…

English Oak Meadow

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...