Saturday, March 21, 2009

P.S. Ode To Big Gaudy Tablescapes

This post is dedicated to my friend Jonna who is getting married this October and even more cynical about impractical stuff like this than I am.

At the Chicagoland Flower & Garden Show a couple of weeks ago I ran through the obligatory tablescape section and although I still can't see why anybody anywhere would ever actually use something like this for an actual meal, I did find the ones from this year much cooler than the ones from last year.


This wedding set up is probably the most realistic one of the bunch. The reason I was so drawn to this is that I'm absolutely in love with the stark white/light green color scheme used here. Unfortunately my photography skills don't do this justice.

All I can say about this one is I love those big green balls!

But even though I love the way all this moss looks, I'm not interested in eating around it. Brushing up against moss all throughout a meal makes me think of how freaked out I used to get when my father made us swim in the lake and a fish would brush up against my leg.

This was my favorite tablescape. I love that they made the structure from tree branches. Plus, maybe I could eat at this table. It's tidier. I also love the hanging green balls, the cone shaped hanging planters, and the sexy lighting.

These tablescapes were pretty but my opinion still stands - they are impractical and wasteful. I'd love to hear from somebody who has been to a function where the tables were decorated so lavishly. What did people think of them? How did it effect your eating experience and your opinion of the overall function?

Where do YOU stand on tablescapes?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Chicagoland Flower & Garden Show: Transformations

I'm a sucker for anything coming (or is it "going") full circle so my favorite display gardens at the 2009 Chicagoland Flower & Garden Show tended to be those that showed a nice transition from one thing to another. Like before and afters gone wild!

In my opinion the Chicago Park District stole the show with their 4 season display garden called Greening Up. For one, this thing was so huge! (Does anybody know how the space for the show is allocated? Do you pay by size or do they just give you what they think you ought to have or what?) The park district display garden was predictably divided into four sections representing the four seasons and not only were every one of them just beautiful, they were informal gardens which I love because it makes me feel like it's something I could actually attempt myself. 2009_0308image0039

Winter garden: One word - Enchanted. Notice how the Chicago skyline is depicted atop the roof on this display. It is visible from every side and was a wonderful surprise.

2009_0308image0042Spring garden: this one made me want to climb up onto the garden and take a seat in one of those comfy rustic chairs. It feels exactly like I feel these days. Spring is coming!

Summer garden: my favorite of the four. I loved that they used the 2009_0308image0049slices of tree trunks to form the steps through this garden and the surprise tomato planted right up next to the compost bin which you really can't see in this picture (bad photographer!). And seeing Rhubarb planted here has finally convinced me to plant some in my own garden this year. Hell, I may even plant it right in the front yard - the leaves are just beautiful!

Fall garden: I loved the big blue rain barrel in this garden! I'm so tired of feeling like I'm 2009_0308image0031supposed to be ashamed of my rain barrel and hide it away rather than proudly displaying it. This one was covered with some kind of metal screen material and from a distance the barrel looked like it was made of tiny blue tiles. The screen around it also provides sort of a trellis to grow things on. I'm thinking of trying this myself.

These gardens were so realistic that I felt like I could climb over the barrier into any one of the four and be transported right into a storybook. I attribute a lot of this to the lighting which was just perfect.

2009_0308image0014 Paradise in the Parking Lot was another garden I liked with a different sort of transformation. This garden was sponsored by again by those geniuses over at Chicago Park District, specifically a group of community gardeners. If you didn't know, Chicago has a fantastic community garden program and there are many of them throughout the city.

What I didn't like about this garden was the signage for the "before" photo. I have a very short attention span and I really need to get something right off the bat to fully appreciate it. So, being forced to read that sign irritated me and I did not feel that it did a very good job of telling me what was going on in the garden. 2009_0308image0015 Like I'm OK if the sign just says "here's an example of a parking lot that our group would transform into a beautiful garden which you can see if you walk around to the other side." Instead, it started out about an "architectural dig site" and I quickly lost interest. I realize that most people wouldn't be bothered by this kind of thing and that it is the reason I don't really enjoy cool inspiring stuff like poetry and abstract art - because I have to think too much.

This garden also had a flower/color combination that really 2009_0308image0016caught my attention. Peach colored tulips against a backdrop of the silvery foliage of Dusty Miller. I'm not even sure that plant combination is possible considering how early tulips bloom, but it sure was pretty. I debated about not including this picture because it's so blurry, but I just needed you to see these colors together.

Mr Brown Thumb has a good video of this garden (he's on a video rampage this week so check out his site if you're into that sorta thing) over at his blog if you are interested in seeing more Paradise in the Parking Lot.

In addition to Mr Brown Thumb, just about all the Chicago area garden blogs are sporting Chicagoland Flower & Garden Show posts this week so be sure to visit them for more great pictures and commentary on these great display gardens.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Chicagoland Flower & Garden Show: Theme Wars

2009_0308image0058Dear Museum of Science and Industry - I don't get it. I mean I get "children's pop-up books" which was where you were going with your display garden, but if I could just point out a couple of things...

I don't see how children's pop-up books are related to gardening in any way what-so-ever. You might as well have chosen Lego's or some other random toy.

I also don't get the flower selection for any part of the gardens. I'm assuming the white flowers were food for the chicks or something clever like that, but, to me, the they looked like some rich 2009_0308image0060person's house who really hates gardening but wants flowers in their yard. And they were all "I like white flowers. Fill up a huge square of space with oddly placed white bedding plants."

The submarine one. I get that the blue flowers are supposed to be water and although I did like the way all those flowers packed in that display looked, I felt the boat just distracted me and made me think WTF am I supposed to do with that boat?


2009_0308image0030 I had the same problem with the Victorian Vogue garden where I found the themes warring against each other. I'm much more attracted to the gardens where the main theme is, well, gardens. Or at least I need the props to be related to gardening (pots, hoses, hoes etc...)

The other part of the Victorian garden that I didn't like was that it totally freaked me out on some weird level that I didn't even know existed within me. The bed of flowers (I get it - "flower bed") reminded me of a big flower covered coffin. And the mannequins wearing the Victorian dresses reminded me of ghosts. I know - I need therapy.


Still, flowers any way you slice them are beautiful. I loved that they were there in these display gardens, just not the way they were used.

If you visiting the garden show, I'd love to hear your thoughts on these two display gardens. Did they move you, or did you think they were reaching?

More information about the Chicagoland Flower & Garden Show.

I swear the next post will be something I liked.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Welcome Chicago Flower & Garden Show Peeps!

A special hello to the new readers from the Chicagoland Flower & Garden Show. It was great to meet you today at the panel discussion on garden blogging.

Regarding the presentation: I was so nervous that I really thought I would vomit before our discussion started. Meeting my fellow garden bloggers for the first time in conjunction with the whole public speaking thing created a very dangerous GI environment. Thankfully everyone was really nice and patient with us.

I made it a point NOT to pay attention to the display gardens today because tomorrow I'm planning to be back there when they open the doors to enjoy the show properly with Garden Buddy. I'll have my full review of the show afterwards. In the meantime, here's my review from last year. Oh, and I'll be issuing a public apology for the part of last years blog where I said the Dutch girls weren't really Dutch. Apparently I was mistaken. Not only that but one of them is about to graduate from medical school. Go on Dutch girls with your bad selves!

edit: here's my PowerPoint presentation from the panel discussion on garden blogging.