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[From Homepage] The Garden in Winter: Behind the Scenes at the Regenstein Fruit and Vegetable Garden

[From Homepage] The Garden in Winter: Behind the Scenes at the Regenstein Fruit and Vegetable Garden
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  • [From Homepage] The Garden in Winter: Behind the Scenes at the Regenstein Fruit and Vegetable Garden

    Post #1 - January 28th, 2014, 9:12 am
    Post #1 - January 28th, 2014, 9:12 am Post #1 - January 28th, 2014, 9:12 am
    This is an excerpt of an article from the homepage. Read Full Article
    __________________________

    by Katje Sabin (mamagotcha)
    Image
    Late last year, I found myself walking across the lonely grounds of the Chicago Botanic Garden during the first snow of winter. Snowflakes were beginning to drift down and gently cover manicured beds of grass and dirt as I made my way over bridges and through arbors toward my goal: a 3.8-acre island in the northwest corner of the property known as the Regenstein Fruit and Vegetable Garden.

    ImageHaving recently embarked upon my own urban gardening adventure, I had decided that it was time to draw from an outside, knowledgeable source, and the Garden’s food-related exhibits seemed to provide the inspiration I sought. I hoped to pick up some tips and techniques, and learn from the staff’s ability to grow and maintain edible plants. 

I arranged to meet a guide, who would show me around and help me get the most out of my visit.

    And although the crisp air and swirling snowflakes made me wonder why I hadn’t just sensibly arranged a phone interview, I wasn’t totally alone. Hardy geese skated across the icy lagoon, and garden workers were busy arranging tiny colored lights on the great evergreen tree that had been erected at the end of the esplanade.

    The Chicago Botanic Garden

    2013 was the first year that the Chicago Botanic Garden saw one million visitors, although I didn’t see any of them that day. This sprawling site is composed of 385 acres on Lake Cook Road, just off the Edens Expressway in Glencoe. It has become a jewel among the metropolitan area’s many cultural resources. Owned by the Cook County Forest Preserve District, open to the public since 1972, and supported financially by 50,000 members (the largest membership of any public garden in the United States), it features 25 display gardens that focus on a wide range of themes. My personal favorites include the walled English garden, the stunning bonsai collection, and the three Malott Japanese Garden islands. But I wasn’t here for these.

    ImageLisa Hilgenberg, the Regenstein Fruit and Vegetable Garden’s lead horticulturalist since 2010, met me near her office in the middle of the fruit and vegetable garden’s island. An energetic woman with short sandy hair, a strong handshake, and a quick smile, she waved me in. I pulled out one of my ears of Glass Gem corn, which I’d brought for her as a token of my gratitude. She immediately recognized it, and seemed delighted at the offering. Then she picked up a mottled pecan with a curled brown husk from her desk. “I found this on my walk this morning; here, you can take it with you,” she said to me.
    “Assuredly it is a great accomplishment to be a novelist, but it is no mediocre glory to be a cook.” -- Alexandre Dumas

    "I give you Chicago. It is no London and Harvard. It is not Paris and buttermilk. It is American in every chitling and sparerib. It is alive from tail to snout." -- H.L. Mencken
  • Post #2 - January 28th, 2014, 11:49 am
    Post #2 - January 28th, 2014, 11:49 am Post #2 - January 28th, 2014, 11:49 am
    Katje,

    This is a lovely piece, especially given the ridiculous weather outside right now. As a frequent visitor of CBG and long-time member, it's great to learn more about the elaborate planning that goes into their exhibits. It gives me hope, when it's -8 F outside, to know that the folks at the Botanic Garden out are seriously focusing their attention on the warmer months that lay ahead (hopefully)! :)

    Thanks!

    =R=
    Gardening is a bloodsport --Meghan Kleeman

    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #3 - January 28th, 2014, 12:37 pm
    Post #3 - January 28th, 2014, 12:37 pm Post #3 - January 28th, 2014, 12:37 pm
    Thank you, Ronnie. I have to admit that I feel a little sheepish about my whinging during that first cold snap. My tolerances have since been adjusted accordingly!
    “Assuredly it is a great accomplishment to be a novelist, but it is no mediocre glory to be a cook.” -- Alexandre Dumas

    "I give you Chicago. It is no London and Harvard. It is not Paris and buttermilk. It is American in every chitling and sparerib. It is alive from tail to snout." -- H.L. Mencken
  • Post #4 - January 28th, 2014, 1:19 pm
    Post #4 - January 28th, 2014, 1:19 pm Post #4 - January 28th, 2014, 1:19 pm
    Katje,
    What a peaceful and interesting tour. Thanks for sharing your beautifully-written piece. Your story was perfect for this chilly day as you transported me to thoughts of greenhouses and Italian honeybees.

    I am CBG fan too and I’m in awe of anyone with gardening skills. I wasn’t even able to grow tomatoes on my last feeble attempt and they are expecting hundreds of varieties. Your meditation altar was inspiring. Maybe I’ll ask the garden gods to help me again this spring.
  • Post #5 - January 28th, 2014, 3:50 pm
    Post #5 - January 28th, 2014, 3:50 pm Post #5 - January 28th, 2014, 3:50 pm
    janeyb wrote: I wasn’t even able to grow tomatoes on my last feeble attempt and they are expecting hundreds of varieties.


    Others may disagree but I think tomatoes are one of the most difficult things to grow here. I consider myself a fairly experienced gardener and, while I am limited to raised bed and container options, I have studied all the methods, followed all the guidelines and have had some success. But they are a PAIN in the butt! Practically anything you could grow would be easier than tomatoes :) So you shouldn't beat yourself up about it and you definitely shouldn't let it stop you from gardening in general. Happy to help if you'd like any suggestions on other things that are simple, easy and delicious to try your hand at!
    "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad." Miles Kington
  • Post #6 - January 28th, 2014, 3:51 pm
    Post #6 - January 28th, 2014, 3:51 pm Post #6 - January 28th, 2014, 3:51 pm
    And FANTASTIC article Katje--really wonderful, especially today!!! Thank you!!!
    "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad." Miles Kington
  • Post #7 - February 3rd, 2014, 1:40 pm
    Post #7 - February 3rd, 2014, 1:40 pm Post #7 - February 3rd, 2014, 1:40 pm
    Lovely indeed. Informative and intriguing. The Lovely Dining Companion took a job there just a few months ago and I made certain she saw your piece both for what she could learn and also so she could call it to the attention of the folks there. Really terrific. Thank you!
    Gypsy Boy

    "I am not a glutton--I am an explorer of food." (Erma Bombeck)
  • Post #8 - February 16th, 2014, 1:09 pm
    Post #8 - February 16th, 2014, 1:09 pm Post #8 - February 16th, 2014, 1:09 pm
    Thank you so much! You are so kind and encouraging, and I'm ever so grateful that you enjoy my work. I look forward to sharing more adventures with you soon. I'm really excited about the next one... let's just say that it will be a bit more spirited than this one! Stay tuned...
    “Assuredly it is a great accomplishment to be a novelist, but it is no mediocre glory to be a cook.” -- Alexandre Dumas

    "I give you Chicago. It is no London and Harvard. It is not Paris and buttermilk. It is American in every chitling and sparerib. It is alive from tail to snout." -- H.L. Mencken

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