Recently the Chicago Botanic Garden was reopened to the public. You’ve got to make a reservation for a specific time slot, as they are controlling the number of people who can be present at any given time. So last Thursday Judy and I got a pass to enter at 5 pm, for our first visit of the year.


We started off as we usually do, walking through the Heritage Garden and on to the English Walled Garden. It was like a reunion with an old friend, though the usual lavish displays of annuals were somewhat muted. This was understandable, given the limitations imposed by the pandemic.


Still, we enjoyed our stroll through the English Walled Garden.


We then walked toward the bridge that takes visitors to Evening Island.


Evening Island is where they have the Carillon Bells. During a normal summer, there are Carillon concerts several times a week.


This large pond is referred to as the Great Basin. The views across the Great Basin are one of the most exciting features of the Chicago Botanic Garden, especially when the Crabapples are in bloom.


On the way out of Evening Island we enjoyed walking through this dappled glade planted with Pennsylvania Sedge (Carex pennsylvanica) under the Crabapple Trees.


We stopped to admire the Martagon Lilies, one of the few Lilies that grow well in shade.


I’ve got a few of these in the Back Garden, but they don’t look anything like this. Maybe in a couple of years when they are matured.


The final and most satisfying part of our stroll was through the Dixon Prairie. The prairie flowers peak in July, but there were plenty of Echinaceas in bloom. I would say these are Pale Purple Coneflowers (E. pallida), except they don’t look pale enough. So maybe they are just Purple Coneflowers (E. purpurea) blooming a bit early.


In any case, as we walked along the edge of a small rise, we appreciated how the purple flowers seemed to make a path pointing upward to the blue, blue sky.

We hope to visit the Chicago Botanic Garden again soon. Obtaining a time slot was very easy. If you want to visit, here’s a link:

This sounds awful, but we kind of enjoyed the greatly reduced crowds during our visit. Not that this is a trade-off we would ever wish for. In any case, have you revisited any newly opened public gardens recently?


49 Comments on “Return to the Chicago Botanic Garden”

  1. Your Chicago Botanic gardens look diverse and interesting. We are booked in for a visit to ours next week… can’t wait!
    We have been enjoying the lack of crowds in a recent visit to Melbourne wildlife reserve with our daughter and family.

  2. One of our local nature centers finally has reopened, and is offering extended hours through August — until 7 p.m. That’s a real blessing, now that we’re living with typical July temperatures. I’ve not been there yet, but I plan to visit soon — just not on the holiday weekend!

  3. I have not visited any public gardens lately, but this Friday, us bloggers were invited to see a private garden. Very much looking forward to that! I can totally see the weeding disclaimer – it takes manpower to keep it under control. We have been doing a lot of it at Joy Creek, lately. I find it a rather meditative activity. If I lived in Chicago, I just might become a volunteer for that purpose.

  4. The crowds will be back soon enough so try to enjoy the mostly empty park without guilt while you still can. Is that a Goat’s Beard hedge in the photo with the panoramic lake view? I remember it form a recent post of yours. The park looks peaceful and serene; thanks for taking us along.

    • Interesting that you say France does not have the same feeling about gardens. When we visited several years ago, we fell in love with Paris, but French gardens – the ones we visited – were too formal and stiff for our taste. Whereas we did not love London, but English gardens had us swooning. In Japan, we visited a garden that was “the second most significant” – they have official rankings, and the garden was full of people taking photos of themselves at famous spots. I find the cultural differences around gardens fascinating.

  5. Jason that didn’t sound terrible at all .. some how I can absorb more of nature and plants when there are fewer people around .. less distraction perhaps ?
    I have the same martagon lily in your single picture of one, it is called “Fairy Morning” I have it in the post I just did a couple of hours ago .. how funny to see it here or should I say there ?!
    It is a beautiful place , I’m sure it did you and Judy a lot of good having an opportunity to soak it in.
    Have a great weekend for your 4th of July .. I know it is restricted but I am sure you guys will have a nice time together 😉

  6. Hello Jason, I already knew from your posts that this is a wonderful place.
    But I didn’t know what a Carillon is and now I’m a huge fan. 48 bells! Must try to see if there are videos of this Carillon or other ones played.
    Unfortunately I haven’t visited any lovely gardens recently. And just think, as a Oxford Bot. Garden Annual Pass holder I wouldn’t even need to book the visit online! 🙂

  7. So nice to see the CBG again! I got to visit several times when my FIL was still alive, but not since. Those Martagon lilies are breathtaking. I looked into them, but SoCal is unquestionably not their climate. That photo of them in the dappled shade is wonderful. I really liked the Dan Kiley esplanade area for its simplicity. So peaceful.

    Have not been anywhere it all besides the grocery store. Oh, well. Hopefully next year.

  8. Longwood and Phipps both reopened recently, with similar restrictions. Phipps is a long trip for me (6 hours), and I no longer have a child at a Pittsburgh college, so I probably won’t get there soon, but Longwood is about a three hour drive, and we have family near it, so maybe I’ll get there before the summer ends. Thanks for sharing these pics of Chicago’s garden–it seems perfectly idyllic!

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