An Early May Walk Through the Chicago Botanic Garden

Last Saturday morning, after finishing my class at the Chicago Botanic Garden, I walked outside and realized that it was a perfect day. Perfect days have been few and far between this spring, so I called Judy and asked her to come up and meet me so we could take a walk and enjoy the garden together. Oh, and I asked her to bring the camera.

Tulips ‘Passionale’, ‘Shirley’, and ‘Havran’.

The first thing that had us exclaiming was the tulip display in the Esplanade near the entrance. There were a mix of three tulips with a purple color theme. The three were the dark purple ‘Havran’, the medium purple ‘Passionale’, and ‘Shirley’. This last tulip is white with a purple blush. I really like this type of color arrangement with several variations on the theme of a single color.

Daffodils at the CBG Bulb Garden.

After the Esplanade we went to the Bulb Garden. Many of the tulips here have not yet opened. Those that have, for some reason, were mostly pink, not my favorite color for tulips. Even so, the bulb garden was lovely, filled with blooming Narcissus, fritilaries, etc.

Ferns Chicago Botanic Garden

From there we wandered over to a woodland garden which, though unnamed, is actually one of our favorite areas in spring. At this time of year, there are ferns, bluebell false forget me not, and daffodils among the birches and evergreens. When we were there the bleeding hearts were not yet in bloom, but by now they will have added many arching stems of dangling pink flowers to the blue and yellow.

woodland garden cbg may 4 2013

This garden is planted on a steep slope. From the path at the top, you can see down to the lagoon.

Carillon Tower, Chicago Botanic Garden, Evening Island
Carillon Tower at Chicago Botanic Garden’s Evening Island.

Onward. We walked across the bridge to Evening Island, which is really a collection of several gardens. At one end there is a small hill topped with a Carillon. Carillon concerts are given on summer evenings, something we have always meant to go to. One piece of advice: do not stand at the base of the Carillon when it starts ringing. I have learned this through personal experience.

Carillon, Chicago Botanic Garden, Evening Island
View from Carillon hill.

From the Carillon hill, you can see across sunny fields of flowers to another small hill at the other end of the island. Grape hyacinths make a blue carpet at the feet of a hedge of bright yellow forsythia. Per my earlier post, I admit this is a setting where forsythia looks really good, but I still wouldn’t plnat it in my own garden.

Evening Island, Chicago Botanic Garden
Water-side path on Evening Island

We walked along a path lined with crabapple trees. The crabapples are also planted along the water on the opposite shore. When they bloom it is a glorious sight. I’d think there’s another week or two before that happens.

woodland garden 2 cbg may 4 20

Leaving Evening Island on the second bridge, there are more crabapples, daffodils, and false forget me not.

English Walled Garden, Chicago Botanic Garden
English Walled Garden

Before heading to the parking lot, we walked along the English Walled Garden, admiring the yellow magnolia (Magnolia acuminata).

Finally, we had to head home. After almost three hours, there was still a great deal we had not seen. Even so, we had done enough gawking, and there was serious gardening to be done at home!

Have you taken any great walks so far this spring?

58 Comments on “An Early May Walk Through the Chicago Botanic Garden”

  1. WOW Jason!! It is always so wonderful to get out and take in a stunning gardens like the Chicago Botanic Garden! It fuels the mind with great ideas for our own spaces! Sounds like you had a lovely day! Love the photos!

  2. I haven’t taken any good walks lately unfortunately. Although, I have plans to that never come to fruition. I have to say I’ve never seen a crab apple tree, other than in pictures. They seem to be really prominent in the colder parts of the country. They look so beautiful. I’ve become really interested in them lately.

  3. The woodland garden is one of my favorites at CBG too. Their whitespire birches look stunning in most seasons, but especially spring. The sensory garden is another of my favorites. Ivan Watters also curates one of the most stunning collection of Bonsai there.

  4. Wonderful tour Jason! I have never been to CBG, so it is fun to see your photos. The first tulip combination is great! I love ‘Shirley’ here in our garden with dark purple ‘Cum Laude’.

  5. Spring gardens are just so beautiful, perhaps because winter has been long and colourless.

    Why ‘false forget-me-nots’? I have them all over the garden at the moment and will soon start to pull them up But while they are there, crammed into every gap, before seeding, I adore them. Particularly at dusk when they become positively numinous.

  6. I always enjoy wandering around Botanical gardens, so thanks for taking us there with you. I see you have tulips too!
    Like you I can see why your favourite spot is a favourite, the mixture of silver birches, ferns and bluebells would tickle my senses too!

  7. Just imagine you had this much land yourself to do all these. I think I was going to grow crazy and buy all sorts of flowering plants, possible :-). It must have been a lovely walk; thanks for taking us along. But, I have to say NYC tulips outrun their cousins in Chicago :). Tulips, or I should ocean of tulips in every possible color are now beautifying the city :-).

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