by Judy Bereza, Guest Blogger
A trip to Chicago for those of us who live in Grand Rapids almost always involves the usual suspects – shopping on Michigan Avenue, Theatre, Dining with a capital”D”.and maybe a museum or two, especially if accompanied by children. However, venture a bit farther afield, and an extraordinary experience awaits for you – The Chicago Botanic Garden.
My daughter, grandson and I visited this amazing Garden on a perfect autumn day last October. It is located 20 miles north of Chicago on 385 acres on and around 9 islands, with 6 miles of lake shoreline. It opened a little more than 40 years ago and boasts more than 50,000 members, one of the largest in the country. It is more than a Garden – it is a museum, and one of only 17 gardens accredited by the American Association of Museums.
The Garden hosts an impressive variety of events and shows each year, and we were treated to the annual Chrysanthemum show. Colorful and exotic displays were everywhere, accompanied by artful pumpkin sculptures. Booths lined the arcades,offering artisan foods and crafts. Organized games were available for children, and inside were tables full of spring bulbs available for purchase. Gardeners are always looking ahead to the next season.
The model raiload garden was first on our tour, given the fact we were in the company of a seven year old. I assumed that would be the highlight for him, but he was fascinated, as were we, by the Garden’s renowned bonsai collection. Seeing this extraordinary collection is an absolute “must” for anyone visiting the Garden.
You could wander for hours along the paths enjoying the beautifully landscaped vistas, made even more memorable by the lakes, streams and waterfalls in almost every sight line. Individual gardens add to the enjoyment. There are more than a dozen individual gardens – the Japanese Garden, the Rose Garden and the English Walled Garden (where you might happen upon a wedding in progress) were highlights for us.
I am disappointed we just missed the Garden’s most anticipated show – the Antiques, Garden and Design Show. A visit to the website: www.chicagobotanic.org will whet your appetite for this and other events. I hope someone went and will blog about it. I’m sure it was truly be a Design Destination!
Judy Bereza is a retired interior designer/kitchen expert, constant walker and “Nana” to four adorable grand children. She and her friends have hiked in Wales, Cornwall, Switzerland, Smokey Mountain National Park, Ireland and California.
Occasionally she veers off the trail to explore a different kind of travel adventure that includes her husband and her grand son.