Prairie plants such as
Echinaceas and grasses dominate at Lurie Garden.
Bees are busy and hard at work at one of the best kept
secrets in Chicago. Hidden away in Millennium Park is a quiet
oasis–Lurie Garden. Consisting of 5 acres and tended by one paid
staff person I was impressed by how natural the setting was.
Another great thing about Lurie Garden is that it rests atop the
Millennium Garden parking structure. Yeah, it is also a rooftop
garden! Is that making the most of your space and hiding an eyesore
all at once?
I met garden writer Helen
Yoest (gardeningwithconfidence.com) and garden photographer
Christopher Tidrick (fromthesoil.blogspot.com) at the
symbolic ”Cloud Gate” (Anish Kapoor, 2006).
With its mirror like finish, this giant sculpture
lays between the vertical and the horizontal; the organic
omphalos refered to by citizens as the “Bean”. On this
glorious August morning, sun shining bright, the mood of
the trio was festive and we were hungry to bite into what Chicago
had to offer. Helen looked forward to seeing this piece as she had
never been to chicago and has a penchant for gazing balls. The
‘Bean’ is one big gazing ball that’s for sure. A few pictures
snapped and off we went to the one garden the three of us
wanted to see. What made that sharing more of an event is the
company I got to share it with.
Christopher Tidrick is
always on the lookout for a great garden shot. Screens or
scrims of grass create great layers and afford the photographer
Yoest- Spendor in the grasses. Textures of stone, plants, wood and
water were awaiting our discovery. This is one garden Helen did not
want to miss in Chicago.
entering through the armatured hedge the three of us were
amazed at the insular world before us. Textures of stone,
plants, wood and water were awaiting our discovery as we walked
through the small hedge opening, a snicket almost, but I could
be mistaken. Through the hedge we went and momentarily I felt that
we had stepped through the looking-glass. As a big fan of
the natural garden, I could easily glide through meadows and along
the shorelines taking it all in. Lurie Garden is right up my alley
that’s for sure. Prairie perennials, grasses and great
textural plants from the plains mix well with other plants. OK,
I am describing it as a
jumble, but its more like a series of rolls. Screens or scrims
of grass created great layers while Echinaceas,
Hemerocallis ‘Chicago Apache’,
Veronicastrum virginicum and
‘Gateway’ stood tall and proud showing the world their
providing contrast and
interest. Layers and screens, screens and layers. More movement
seems to happen while everything is standing still in this
August morning is not enough for this garden. It must be visited
several times throughout the seasons. This is a great garden to
study in, have lunch, meet a friend for intimate conversation.
There is an other-worldliness about it. NO place in Chicago feels
A visitor to Lurie Garden will be
treated to not only a slow quiet pace, but a feast. The bees
certainly are. The bees in Lurie Garden don’t pay visitors any
attention. They are far too busy gleaning what they can and
collecting up what they need to survive the winter. Busy, busy,
busy bees. This is sort of ironic to me. The bees are much like the
humans who work around or outside the garden. I am not talking
the park employees, but those working in downtown Chicago. Outside
the shouldering hedges is a busy area of downtown. Thousands of
people are working and doing their thing so they can survive as
Today was very enlightening. Walking around the trade show floor one just never knows what could catch an eye. She was seen. What I had hoped to find and don’t seem to at trade shows.
This girl is an edgy, goth/alternative type, but right on track. Girl? She just turned twenty-nine and today was her birthday.
Approaching her I asked if I could talk to her for a minute and see how she was enjoying the show and what she was looking at.
The conversation was very relaxed- footing was equal and she appreciated my candid and direct questions as much as enjoyed her esprit decor.
Much was learned quickly–she was here with her mother, a veteran of the garden center trade who had worked for someone else the past 20 years. The mother, with her daughters, had decided it was time to take a risk on something they could call their own. Risky indeed in this economy, but a risk worth taking.
Organics, sustainable, natural were words that came from both these women’s lips. They plan to raise and sell their own eggs- the young woman herself was a bee keeper and planned on having honey as something that was sold at the nursery. Chickens were also part of the package…an odd, but very thought out plan was being related to me and how they would do this in a town with a base population of thirty thousand people.
I feel at times very alternative, very not fitting in with the nursery crowd–too indie. I sell plants to people like this bright young woman when I go to shows and lectures in Spokane, Seattle, and Portland. There is an untapped market of brilliant younger people–couple, singles, families–that are educating themselves online. They are becoming the new plant geeks in the garden sphere.
Nothing like meeting a 22 year old peony collector who is plopping down a hundred dollars on an Itoh peony you have at your show booth. You read that correctly, too sweet to make that kind of stuff up.
Be aware of your customer base–it’s not all ladies 45-60. The base is becoming younger, way hipper, and highly savvy. Just because you have read the cover of a book seldom do you know the story at all.
“I want to know what you’re thinking” is the riff we all remember from the song—that and the Leonard Nemoy sample.
This posting isn’t about that 80′s band at all. It’s about the society we live in. We live in the information society.
I was just told by a friend, that some people I respect have recently made comments about bloggers, those on twitter, and people on facebook. It was directed toward the garden community, or I should say the garden social network community.
The gist of the comments was about gardeners who blog are misinformed and misinformants. The implication was that those blogging are putting personal experience out as fact that is really opinion. These tribal elders expressed knowledge shared on social networking sites was unreliable at best and just a din of words. Theses elders went on to say that those blogging about gardening should be citing at least three credible sources for each nugget of information they impart. All this to put something out into the interverse that is more of an opinion than a cited piece of published work?
I am a gardener. Let me restate that: I have a strong passion in horticulture and enjoy growing everything that I can get my hands on. I have a passion. Or is it I have the passion?
I love to exchange information. I love art, music, seed planting, propagation, selling plants, Victorian homes, cocktails, cooking, growing food, collecting, movies, and good times with friends. Oh, I also forgot I hope for world peace and enjoy riding rollercoasters—just kidding on the last two. I love to exchanging information with other people.
Almost all of us are passionate about one thing or another. If we are on twitter we tweet. On facebook we post. We are looking for those who share our ideas and opinions. We join groups and look for those of like mind. We share, we pontificate, we let others know that we killed that frickin’ plant 3 times and yes, oh lord yes, we are going to buy yet another plant to kill!
Back to the center ring of my circus.
I do not see these tribal elders as sitting high upon mount Hortensis, listening to tracks from the latest performance of Chorus of the Goddess Flora and Deadheading Society. I do not see them as noted scholars that dole out dew drops of wisdom from their sanctuaried towers. These demigods are not allowing the seed of sharing to take hold and root deep within the rich loam, that is not their style.
These misguided and misinformed scholars are people who have not thoroughly explored social networking. Yes, they are on facebook. One of them does not know how to add a profile picture. The group as a whole does not post much, if at all.
Let’s call this group the old guard. They have rather outdated concepts. Maybe they believe that garden information only comes from books, gleaned from academia, or belonging to an organization? Maybe you have to read about it in magazines…is that why Horticulture magazine is waning? Is that why publishers aren’t making deals with noted professionals within the garden community? I hear a few bloggers have some book deals in the making at reputable publishing houses.
What I can’t believe is that gardeners attending the lecture actually sat there in the audience and let the tribal elders disparage what is the new movement for the flow of information? My friend commented the talk would have been better with a glass of wine. Does that tell you something? The panel of speakers should have had more than just a glass of wine. Maybe they would have relaxed and sounded less threatened by a world they know not.
I am not going to name names. What I am going to say is that the people on the panel made themselves look outdated. They appeared to have a narrow and limited view of the garden world, and the people who make up this global garden community.
I feel more liberated being part of a social network. I am not judged because I am not wearing the correct outfit or using the $100 pair of garden pruners. I do not feel excluded. Most of us don’t.
I commented to my friend who enlightened me about this event. “This is truly amazing, I have probably passed you a few times as you have worked at this nursery or that. I am a type of shopper that likes to left alone and I will ask if I need help. But because of facebook, and learning more what is going on in your mind, what you groove on by what you post in word or picture.” I have learned volumes about my friend. I have gone plant shopping with her, I cheer her on. We have discovered we share opinions on things. Something I would have never discovered if not for social networking.
Let me break this down.
Twitter to me is like a stream of consciousness, 17 layers of conversation with links to blog posting, articles, ideas, pictures and more.
Facebook is a tad slower, but you can say more. It isn’t static like my website, just slower. There is improvement with groups now. I am connecting with micro communities and special interest groups.
Both social networks are multilayered and have strong undercurrents.
Both are global.
I feel great that I am there to say hello to someone in England one second, a friend in the Eastern United States the next and read a posting by another person in Australia, France, or Japan. Could you do this 5 years ago? 10 years ago?
I have a strong feeling that the people on the panel will not read my blog. They don’t really blog. They will not see this as I post a link onto twitter waiting for individuals such as @Mr.BrownThumb, @DirtandMartinis, @Arcadia1, @oregonclematis, @GreenSoil, @BG_garden to respond or retweet the link.
The tribal elders need to change with times. Gardeners are going forward into the bloggisphere. This is not about academia but about conversation. It’s about swapping stories over the virtual fencepost.