Preview: 2017 Chicago Flower & Garden Show
“Gardening is a labour full of tranquility and satisfaction; natural and instructive, and as such contributes to the most serious contemplation, experience, health and longevity.”
- John Evelyn, 1666
From the first seeds sewn into soil, interacting with the earth through planting and growing has always enhanced health and happiness. John Evelyn’s quote from the 17th century emphasizes the healing aspects of gardening.
In 2017, the importance of connecting with nature via gardening remains relevant, especially at a busy and sometimes chaotic time. This year’s Chicago Flower & Garden Show, with the theme of “Chicago’s Blooming”, held from March 18 to 26 at Navy Pier, offers a variety of display gardens, seminars, how-to presentations, culinary demonstrations and children’s activities themed to the healing attributes of growing flowers and edibles, planting trees and shrubs and integrating our indoor and outdoor surroundings.
“There are so many health benefits of gardening, from the way gardens provide more oxygen to the air to exercise involved with planting to the nutrition of growing your own food,” remarks Tony Abruscato, director of the Chicago Flower & Garden Show. “We’ve brought a lot of these benefits together at the show in almost every part of the event. Gardening is something for people all ages, including seniors, as well as kids, who can go outside and be active away from their phones and video games.”
A highlight of the show is the Health and Healing Garden (Garden 5), designed by the Hitchcock Design Group, one of the largest planning and landscape architecture firms in Illinois. This garden, built with collaborators BrightView, Craiger Custom Design, Aquascape, Walpole Outdoors and Bailey Nurseries, depicts the outdoor setting of a healthcare facility.
“Hitchcock Design is a leader in the design and building of health and healing gardens at healthcare facilities,” explains Abruscato, “From water features to ergonomic benches to a beautiful wooden arbor, they have really thought through the idea of creating a calm and tranquil space.” Other elements designed around health and healing in this feature garden include raised beds, annual flowers, trees, planter pots, specialized furniture, gardening ornaments, a rocking chair and seat walls. The goal of the garden is to show how such a space can be a restorative place to rest, relieve stress, heal, reconnect with nature and provide an opportunity to live a more active, social and healthy lifestyle.
Several of this year’s seminars and Gardening Live! presentations also focus on the healing properties of planting and growing. Examples include Arthritis in the Garden: How to Lower Chronic Pain without Medicines, by wellness lifestyle advocate and gardening expert Shawna Coronado; Sensory and Enabling Garden: Getting More Out of Your Time in the Garden, by Janie Grillo, of Midwest Groundcovers; Healthy Soil, Healthy Plants, Healthy People, by Sandy Syburg, of Purple Cow Organics; Get Out and Grow Veggies: Great Options for Chicagoland Gardens, by author and edible expert William Moss; Making Sugars, Salts, Vinegars and Other Herb Infusions, by herb gardener and blogger Marcy Lautanen-Raleigh; Vegetable Gardening: Month-by-Month, by Master Gardener and garden writer Beth Botts; and S L O W Food: Getting to Know Your Food, by organic farmer and grower Sacha Gee-Burns, among others.
Several Gardening Live! presentations on the main stage likewise spotlight various healing attributes of gardening, including Growing Herbs in Containers, by Kristie Webber; Botanical Balms: Homemade Skin Care Recipes for Every Gardener, by Laura Ekaset of Lurie Garden; Herbal Tea Container and Edible Salad Bowl, by ornamental horticulturist Nancy Clifton, of the Chicago Botanic Garden; and Organic Gardening and Beer Brewing for a More Sustainable Future, by Martin Coad, of Greenstar Brewing at Uncommon Ground.
The nourishment and nutrition associated with gardening—along with sumptuous recipes—are on the menu at daily Garden Gourmet cooking demonstrations by the area’s leading chefs and culinary professionals, including healthy recipes and those made with locally grown produce and herbs. “With so much interest in farm-to-table, Garden Gourmet demos also fit right in with interest in well-being and healthy living,” notes Abruscato.
Fostering a lifelong love and learning of gardening is one of Abruscato’s goals, such as expanding the Kids’ Activity Garden. Youngsters can roll up their sleeves and discover several beneficial aspects of gardening, whether they’re interacting with beneficial insects and worms, making a container to take home or learning how concepts like art, math, technology and science are an inherent part of growing. At the Marketplace, vendors offer a variety of items for the garden, home and personal care.
Visit ChicagoFlower.com for more details on the 2017 Chicago Flower & Garden Show. For the very latest updates, sign up to receive the Chicago Flower & Garden Show e-newsletter and follow the show on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @chicagoflower. Natural Awakenings Chicago is a media sponsor. See ad on page 15.
Flower & Garden Show
March 18 through 26
Festival Hall, Navy Pier,
600 East Grand Avenue, Chicago
Sunday-Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Thursday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Evening in Bloom preview benefit
featuring the Fleurotica fashion show:
6 to 9:30 p.m., March 17
For tickets and more details,