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Highlights from the Chicago Flower and Garden Show 2014

Updated on January 26, 2024
LisaRoppolo profile image

Lisa is a writer with a terrible case of wanderlust. She loves to photograph interesting places and provide tips to the casual vacationer.

A Brisk Spring day in March

Spring is here, but you would never know it. On the day I made the trek from the suburbs to Navy Pier in Chicago for the flower and garden show, it was in the 30's with wind chills in the teens. Not a great start to the day and definitely not the temps to get someone in the mood to view a flower and garden show. But yet I went anyway, because I really enjoy seeing new varieties of old favorites and some of the wonderful and artistic displays of landscaping and floral design. This year's fest didn't disappoint; there is something for everyone at the Chicago Flower and Garden Show.

Entrance to the Festival

Promenade dans un Jardin Extraordinare by City Escape (
Promenade dans un Jardin Extraordinare by City Escape ( | Source

One of the side gardens within show garden #1 by City Escape

Promenade dans un Jardin Extraordinare by City Escape (
Promenade dans un Jardin Extraordinare by City Escape ( | Source

Show Guide and Highlights

This year, there are 22 show gardens, 2 garden "vignettes" and 4 areas for activities. The show gardens run the gamut from classical designs, to modern and sleek to urban and sustainable. There is a kid's garden, where kids can learn some hand-on skills from learning how to pot a plant, crafting special baskets and playing with bugs and worms (a live Tarantula, Giant Millipede and Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches-um, no thanks!).

There are also information booths, food demonstrations and a number of talking seminars available. You can literally spend all day there.

At the back of the fest, there is an area for vendors. Lots of plants and bulbs for sale, wine tasting booths, one-of-a-kind jewelry makers and clothing makers, garden décor and even as-seen-on-TV items.

Flower Festivals Poll

Have you ever been to a Flower and Garden Show?

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Some Interesting Plant Varieties from the Show

There was so much to look at and take in, which made it really hard to decide which plants I wanted to highlight in this article.

I finally narrowed it down to:

  • Hyacinth "Chicago"
  • Oxalis "Burgundy Shamrock"
  • Senetti Pericallis (two varieties-Deep Blue and Pink Bicolor)
  • Icelandic Poppy "Wonderland"
  • Tulip varieties-Belicia, Gavota and Jackpot

I will be also showing some photos of some of the installation gardens further down in the article.

Show Garden 1: Promenade dans un Jardin Extraordinare by City Escape

Hyacinth "Chicago" featured by City Escape
Hyacinth "Chicago" featured by City Escape | Source

Hyacinth "Chicago"

When you stroll through the first garden, the scent of the Hyacinths immediately take over. This variety, appropriately named "Chicago" is a lovely blue color with a strong scent. They grow 8 to 10 inches tall and is suitable for Zones 4 to 8. Plant the bulbs in the fall for spring bloom time. It blooms early to mid-spring and prefers full sun to part shade. Good for containers or at the front of the border, Hyacinths are deer and rabbit resistant.

Show Garden 4: Your Style, Your Garden

Oxalis inter-planted with edibles; purple cabbage, Swiss Chard and Coneflower by Clarence Davids and Company
Oxalis inter-planted with edibles; purple cabbage, Swiss Chard and Coneflower by Clarence Davids and Company | Source

Oxalis "Burgundy Shamrock"

A new and popular variety of Shamrock, I've been seeing this plant in virtually every garden bulb catalog I've received this spring. I liked the look of it so much, I will be growing this in my garden this year.

This variety of Shamrock has deep burgundy purple leaves and tiny, light pink flowers. It is a great container plant, houseplant or front-of-the-border plant. It is considered an annual in my zone (zone 5) but is perennial in Zones 6 to 10. It grows from a small bulb and prefers full sun to part shade and moist, well-draining soil. it flowers early through late summer and tops out at 12 inches in height.

Show Garden 4: Your Style, Your Garden

Senetti Pericallis Deep Blue
Senetti Pericallis Deep Blue | Source
Senetti Pericallis Pink Bi-Color
Senetti Pericallis Pink Bi-Color | Source

Senetti Pericallis Deep Blue and Pink Bi-Color

Pericallis is an annual. "Senetti" is a new group of Pericallis specially designed by cross-breeding. It comes in many shades:

  • Super Blue
  • Blue Bi-Color
  • Regular Blue
  • Magenta Bi-Color
  • Magenta
  • Violet Bi-Color
  • Lavender
  • Lt. Blue Bi-Color
  • Pink Bi-Color
  • Deep Blue

it grows in cool and airy locations (temperatures 35 degrees to 40 degrees) and blooms March through July in northern climates. There is a shorter bloom time in southern gardens. It needs to be placed in a shaded, cool spot in the heat of summer as the high summer temps will halt blooming and cause the plant to go dormant. Deadhead the flowers to force a second flush of blooms.

Show Garden 15: Bird Feeder Garden

Icelandic Poppies
Icelandic Poppies | Source

Icelandic Poppy "Wonderland"

Icelandic Poppies are a hardy but short-lived perennial that is suitable in Zones 3a to 10b. It is treated more like a biennial because you have to sow the seeds in the fall in order to get blooms the following spring and summer. It needs that wintertime to establish it's root system.

Icelandic Poppies come in shades of yellow, pink, apricot, white, orange and scarlet. Wonderland is a shorter variety, producing plants about 10 inches tall and blooms that are 4 inches across. It prefers full sun and well-draining soil. They are a great cutting flower because they last long in the vase.

*Warning* all parts of this plant is toxic to humans and pets.

Icelandic Poppy "Wonderland"
Icelandic Poppy "Wonderland" | Source
Tulip "Gavota"
Tulip "Gavota" | Source

A Tulip Takeover

In Show Garden 14, A Tulip Takeover, they had a huge installation of every type of Tulip imaginable. This isn't the first time I have seen this exhibit; this particular group (Four Oaks Landscape) does something similar every year and the simplicity of it is just breathtaking. Especially after the long, cold and snowy winter my region has had this year.

So, I picked three different Tulips to focus my attention on.

Belicia is a double-late flowering tulip that has blooms similar to a peony. It grows 16 to 18 inches tall.

Gavota is a Triumph variety of Tulip that blooms April through May and is a great cutting flower.

Jackpot is a single-late blooming tulip that can grow up to 30 inches tall and blooms May through June. Another good cutting flower.

Like all Tulips, plant in late fall for spring blooms in full sun to part shade.

Tulip "Belicia"
Tulip "Belicia" | Source
Tulip "Jackpot"
Tulip "Jackpot" | Source

Show Garden 11: Tablescapes: Reduce, Reuse, Inspire

At the end of the garden show, there is a great area that features tablescapes. Some of the designs were wonderful. So wonderful that I feel I need to share some photos of them as well. Hope you enjoy the following series of photos below and hope they inspire you to go all out the next time you throw a garden party at your house!

(I will include links to all these companies at the end of the article)

Tablescape By Mariano's
Tablescape By Mariano's | Source
Romantic Tablescape by Taylor & Co. Featuring Swarovski crystals and lace adorned gazebo
Romantic Tablescape by Taylor & Co. Featuring Swarovski crystals and lace adorned gazebo | Source
Victorian Era inspired tablescape by Boutique Home
Victorian Era inspired tablescape by Boutique Home | Source
Tablescape by Boxtanical Designs
Tablescape by Boxtanical Designs | Source
Tablescape by Art of Imagination
Tablescape by Art of Imagination | Source

© 2014 Lisa Roppolo


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