grow, marvel, eat, laugh, persevere

Monday, March 9, 2009

Chicagoland Flower & Garden Show: Theme Wars

2009_0308image0058Dear Museum of Science and Industry - I don't get it. I mean I get "children's pop-up books" which was where you were going with your display garden, but if I could just point out a couple of things...

I don't see how children's pop-up books are related to gardening in any way what-so-ever. You might as well have chosen Lego's or some other random toy.

I also don't get the flower selection for any part of the gardens. I'm assuming the white flowers were food for the chicks or something clever like that, but, to me, the they looked like some rich 2009_0308image0060person's house who really hates gardening but wants flowers in their yard. And they were all "I like white flowers. Fill up a huge square of space with oddly placed white bedding plants."

The submarine one. I get that the blue flowers are supposed to be water and although I did like the way all those flowers packed in that display looked, I felt the boat just distracted me and made me think WTF am I supposed to do with that boat?


2009_0308image0030 I had the same problem with the Victorian Vogue garden where I found the themes warring against each other. I'm much more attracted to the gardens where the main theme is, well, gardens. Or at least I need the props to be related to gardening (pots, hoses, hoes etc...)

The other part of the Victorian garden that I didn't like was that it totally freaked me out on some weird level that I didn't even know existed within me. The bed of flowers (I get it - "flower bed") reminded me of a big flower covered coffin. And the mannequins wearing the Victorian dresses reminded me of ghosts. I know - I need therapy.


Still, flowers any way you slice them are beautiful. I loved that they were there in these display gardens, just not the way they were used.

If you visiting the garden show, I'd love to hear your thoughts on these two display gardens. Did they move you, or did you think they were reaching?

More information about the Chicagoland Flower & Garden Show.

I swear the next post will be something I liked.


  1. You have no taste. That garden bed is so tight! I'm going to build me one of them. I don't think you lived here then but back when they had the sofa as art installation around the Loop there was a sofa that looked like that bed. Except it was made out of succulent plants.

    All I need to do is find me a planted toilet and I can live out under the stars 4 months out of the year.

  2. Ha! Years ago I had a neighbor with a planted toilet and bathtub in their FRONT yard. But wait - it gets better - they were planted with plastic geraniums and plopped in the middle of the lawn where the grass got all shaggy growing around them.

    I liked the flower pot dog in that garden and walked away glad women don't dress like that anymore. And I liked the antique furniture.

    I thought it had good intentions, honoring Victorian women's strength, compassion, and love of family. Maybe someone felt it fitting to do that at the garden show since Victorian women were noted for being avid gardeners(?) (scratches head.)

    I thought it was pretty, guess I thought there was more relevance in other display gardens.

  3. MBT - So wait. You showed me (sorta) how much space you have in your garden. I'm thinking if you have a "flower bed" it'll be sorta like me walking through my bedroom which has a king sized bed but it's way too small for one so when I'm in there I'm pretty much always walking sideways.

    Garden Girl - that neighbor's yard sounds like something that might have gotten them arrested, or at least landed them on the local news! Everybody seemed to really like the dog in the Victorian Vogue garden but I wasn't really moved by that, either. Now the pig in that other display garden was off the chain! (you blogged about that)

  4. I didn't get the MSI's garden either - the wooden cutouts were jarring and the giant chicks were just plain creepy! And I admit I walked right past the Victorian bedroom, and thusly missed the flower pot dog, which is unfortunate. I muchly preferred the more naturalistic gardens, esp. the two Park District ones. The Mexican garden also had some lovely moments, esp. all the hellebores. What did you think of the big slabs of moss? It was like a fuzzy flying saucer opening to let its aliens out. I didn't like it and yet I can' stop thinking about it.

  5. The display part of garden shows has always perplexed me a bit as well. They are going above and beyond to try to be creative, but often a lot is lost in translation. What might be cool whimsy ends up being "Huh what?" My pet peeve is that sometimes the things in bloom in the displays would never all bloom at the same time IRL. I KNOW it's more ART than gardening, but it always bugs me. It's a bit related to my rant about how landscaping is the opposite of gardening... But it is still fun to see some green and blooms in March!

  6. Okay - I kinda think the victorian bedroom was creepy.. at least from the picture. Granted, I have been known to do odd things in my gardens - like placing an old metal headboard in my "garden bed" (It's long since been removed). I've heard of the bathtub thing before and saw it out in the country, with flowers that hang over the sides and some tall looking things in the center, it was really cute.

    I like your blog - makes me homesick for our house in Niles.

  7. I'll make sure to look at the MSI garden when I go to the show Friday. From your description it almost sounds like a novice gardener put it together.

    From what I've read in other blogs, the show as a whole is much better than it has been the last couple years.

  8. Diane - thanks for stopping by! You said it so well about the moss. I kind of hated it but I kind of can't stop thinking about it. When I first saw it I thought it was part of another display that wasn't fully assembled yet. After that, my girlfriend and I just kept saying all day "I don't get that moss. Do you get that moss?" But the fact that it's got us all thinking and talking about it days later has got to say something, right?

    Monica - I never even thought about the fact that they totally have stuff that would never bloom at the same time all right there in the same bed like it just happened naturally. Now I've got even more stuff to negatively obsess about. Thanks a lot! Thanks for visiting my blog, Monica.

    Red Bridges Home - the strange thing is that I really like one or two odd things placed in the garden as a surprise, I just don't like these full-on themes. It makes me think about those theme hotels you hear about (the star wars room etc...) Speaking of Niles, I worked in Niles for the first 4 months when I moved from Tennessee to Chicago. I liked it but the drive and the toll roads really pissed me off so I found somthing closer ASAP. Thanks for visiting my blog!

    Laura - please do come back and let me know what you thought of the MSI garden after you've seen it. Regarding past year's gardens, I've only been to the one in 2008 and I can't decide if I like this year's so much more because the display gardens are so much better, or because we were invited to speak there so I'm all "emotionally invested" in it. Thanks for visiting my blog, Laura!

  9. Gina,

    Yes, the bed would barely fit in my garden but that doesn't mean I shouldn't do it. I'm more creative than practical.

  10. Love your blog! Met you last weekend on the way out of the F & G show. (I'm the woman at the table with ballots to vote for your favorite garden)

    You're a skilled observer, good pics and a great read! Really enjoy your attitude. I observe many gardeners, most are lovely laid back folks but too many take it all too seriously. I'm in it for the love, laughs and leaves.
    I'll be back here again and again. Great to meet you Gina, may your garden grow bountiful!