Monday, October 5, 2015

Chicago Botanic Garden

One of my fall bucket list items was to stroll through a garden before it gets too cold in Chicago. Graham and I made that happen Sunday with a visit to the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe. 

For some reason my Chicago newbie mind had pictured the garden being located near the lake in the Lincoln Park area. I was probably thinking of the Lincoln Park Conservatory. Instead, we drove north to the suburbs about 17 miles away. 

It was a quiet day at the garden on the cool, cloudy day. Most people seemed to be leaving when we arrived in the afternoon. Our first stop was the cafe for some food before our walk. With a sandwich, cookie, and chips in our bellies and a coffee/chai latte in our hands, we set off to explore the garden. When you step into the garden, you immediately get the sense that someone took the time to walk to every point, turn in every direction and make the view from there exactly perfect. Every single plant, statue, and display seems to be in just the right location. I lost count of how many times I noted how beautiful the grounds are. Everything seemed so serene.

Chicago Botanic Garden
Photo by Marette Flora

The corpse flower (Amorphophallus titanum or Titan Arum) is a popular attraction at the garden right now. It was supposed to bloom in the summer but didn't until recently. This is what the flower looks like now.

Benches and other places to rest are scattered everywhere, so you can stop to take in the view. And you'll want to do that. I liked to pretend the garden was my backyard.

Chicago Botanic Garden

You'll cross several bridges if you take the time to stroll the entire garden. We actually got a little lost at one point. We walked to Evening Island, found ourselves on the trail to the parking lot and walked back into the garden through the visitor center.

I looked for signs of fall everywhere we walked.

Once we made it back into the garden, we walked through what had been a fall family event toward the fruit and vegetable garden.  Along the way we spotted from geese, a gorgeous walkway, an apple orchard, and lots of blooms.

Next, we walked toward Spider Island, meant to be a quiet, contemplative area. We whispered to each other, "Stop talking. Contemplate!"

Graham and I could not stop taking pictures of the flowers. 

We circled back to the Regenstein Center to see the Bonsai trees, Graham's favorite.

By this point it was past 6 p.m., and the garden was closing at sunset. We saw maybe two or three people at the end of our visit. It was nice having so much time alone in such a beautiful setting.

Graham captured a moment when I was completely in love with the garden.

I would highly recommend visiting the garden on cooler days when it's likely less crowded. We had wished we had bikes to ride around the grounds, though they aren't allowed on all pathways. I remember saying it'd be nice to rent a canoe or kayak there, too. As we walked, I spotted about 10 perfect wedding, engagement and photo session locations. The garden is hands down the most beautiful, peaceful place I've seen in the Chicago area yet.

Details: Admission is free, and parking is $25-30. The garden has plenty of bike racks and offers bike rentals.

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