Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Macy's Flower Show

I missed the Chicago Flower Show at Navy Pier in March, so last month I met Alexa down at the State Street Macy's for their annual flower show. Obviously, not the same scope and scale as the one at Navy Pier but a treat none-the-less on a dreary rainy Sunday. The City of Chicago Master Gardeners manned the information booth to answer any questions and there were lots of flower arranging demonstrations from some of the more avant garde downtown flower shops.

Here are a few of the things we saw: I just love topiaries, where the plants are wired, trimmed and pruned to grow into a specific shape not found in nature. This kalanchoe flamingo was really bright and cheery. Kalanchoe is a common plant available in most flower shops. It makes a great gift because of its bright flowers and long bloom time. The blossoms range from white to yellow to orange, red and hot pink. They are a succulent and require well drained soil, a sunny location and little water. They can be made to rebloom. First, cut back the faded flowers, then place the plant in a dark room for about a month. When new buds have formed bring the plant back to a sunny location and begin watering again.

The shrub at the center top of this picture is a variety of azalea called "Northern Lights." What is unique about this shrub, and what makes it a great azalea for our climate, is the fact that it is deciduous, unlike other azaleas and their cousins rhododendrons, that are evergreen. Why does this matter? Because these plants go dormant and are not subject to drying out in our winters. They are not as floriferous as the evergreen ones but I suppose, like lots of things in life, it's a trade off.

The Macy's designers must have had fun putting together these displays. It reminds us that we should have fun in our gardens. Add things that are whimsical or create an unusual juxtaposition, whether it's a fun plant or piece of statuary or even an old bike with the baskets planted up with annuals. Especially this year we could all use a little chuckle and what better place than in our garden.

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