Fashion focus at Chicago Flower & Garden Show
By Jennifer Burklow March 7, 2012 2:44PM
“Hort Couture”: Chicago Flower & Garden Show has plenty of fun activities for the whole family. | Charles Cherney photo
‘HORT COUTURE’: CHICAGO FLOWER & GARDEN SHOW
◆ March 10-18
Show hours are 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays and 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sundays.
◆ Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Ave., Chicago
◆ Tickets, $5 for ages 4-12 on all days, $15 for weekday tickets purchased online and $17 for weekday tickets purchased at the Navy Pier box office, and $17 for weekend tickets purchased online and $19 for weekend tickets purchased at the box office
◆ (312) 595-5400;
Updated: April 10, 2012 11:04AM
Whether one’s landscaping plans for his or her home are simple or grand, the annual Chicago Flower & Garden Show at Navy Pier offers something for everyone, even the children.
And with a theme of “Hort Couture,” the show definitely is “not your grandmother’s flower garden show,” said Tony Abruscato, president and chief executive officer of Flower Show Productions, which produces the event.
“People think it’s some flowers in a pot on a table and you walk around and see prize roses, and it’s so much more than that.”
Abruscato said the fashion-related theme “came out of the idea of color, lines and texture and having a show that reflected nature inside the fashion world and the fashion world that’s reflected inside of nature, and really looking at a way to inspire the people that come to the show to let them see that flowers and landscapes and things is more than just color and some plants, but there’s the textures and the design elements that are there.
“So we wanted people to come in and get a well-rounded experience this year.”
With that in mind, the show presents 25 garden displays, each with a different focus, along with several daily demonstrations from local chefs at the Garden Gourmet station.
There are also seminars and workshops, wares from more than 100 boutiques in the Marketplace, a juried photography competition and show, and a full slate of
Abruscato said this year’s show features many firsts like the U.S. debut of United Kingdom blacksmith and glass artist Jenny Pickford, who has shipped her sculpture “Agapanthus Flowers” to Navy Pier.
The sculpture was a huge hit at the 2011 Chelsea Flower Show in Great Britain and will greet visitors at the entrance to the Chicago show.
“I don’t think there’s been anything like it in the show ever before,” he said of the 14-foot-tall, 9-foot-wide sculpture. “It’s absolutely stunning.”
Abruscato said other firsts include the White House Let’s Move Garden, inspired by Michelle Obama’s White House kitchen garden, and the Hope and Healing Garden, an ornamental garden honoring cancer patients and survivors.
There also are the Cultivation of Style, a two-story rooftop garden (which provides a fabulous view of the entire show, Abruscato said), and the Homestyle Drama from “Days of Our Lives” Garden, an interpretation of the Hortons’ home where visitors are likely to meet cast members from the long-running soap opera.
Abruscato said the TV show’s cast visited 2011’s flower show, loved it and wanted to be a part of it this year.
The popular bug zoo returns to the Children’s Activity Garden, featuring creepy-crawly creatures that help make things grow.
There also will be worm composting, potting parties, a sand pit for playing, arts and crafts, and child-friendly gardening demonstrations led by Illinois master gardeners.
New this year is a second garden geared toward kids. Teaching Garden: A Kaleidoscope of Creativity showcases color-blocked flower beds and tall evergreens that serve as a backdrop for pint-size fun.
Abruscato, who has gardens on his Chicago balcony, encourages visitors to simply come and walk through.
It’s what he does and each year he learns new things to help him in his gardening efforts, he said.
He encourages visitors to come with questions about their gardening or landscaping challenges.
“Not sure why your grass isn’t growing?” he said. “Not sure why your containers aren’t thriving or what kind of plants should you put in a south exposure in a windy area?
“Those are things you can find out at the Flower & Garden Show.
“We’re trying to demystify gardening and let people know that you could redo your yard. Until someone really comes to the show they don’t truly have an appreciation for what it is.”
Jennifer Burklow is a local free-lance writer.