Gardeners don't forget to get a guided tour of the show when it opens on Sunday by University of Illinois Master Gardeners. There are several events scheduled for the show's run but here are some I think you should attend or take the kids to.
Thursday, April 1 & 8, and Fridays, April 2 & 9 at 11 am, 1st Floor: Learn how Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo will become a heaven for birds, frogs, fish, insects and mammals while serving as an outdoor classroom.
Saturday, April 3 at 1 pm, Kids' Department, 5th Floor: Make your own mini-greenhouse and learn how to grow lettuce in a bag at any time of the year. Get soil, plat and germination tips from the Master Gardeners.
Saturday, April 10 at 1 pm, Kids Department, 5th Floor: Learn hands-on from the University of Illinois Extension staff everything you ever wanted to know about worms.
What I liked: The giant hot air balloon and mobile that hangs below the Tiffany ceiling that was crafted out of almost 5,000 balsa wood airplanes. Vertical gardens make their first appearance at Macy's Flower Show, they're actually very nice. You can get a closeup view of the living wall leaned against the wall near the fountain. In order to keep the integrity of the historic fountain intact the team built "additions" to the fountain in which to plant bulbs, shrubs and flowers. I didn't even notice that it wasn't the original fountain until it was pointed out to us. The birds in the custom-designed runner carpet that stretches for the length of a city block are picked up again in the giant birdcage that decorates the Walnut Room fountain. Repurposed items like the glass from broken displays below the blue water fountain on the first floor and the branches in the Walnut Room fountain. Mixing old with new and expensive with the inexpensive items in the tablescapes were a nice touch.
Gardeners with small spaces like balconies and decks should carry a camera and take in the inspiration above the display cases on the first floor. In particular, see how you can mix in your houseplants and inexpensive indoor foliage plants with your spring and summer plantings.
Make sure to pick up a brochure for the show because in the last two pages they list the plants used. You can take the plant list and some pictures to any garden center in Chicago this spring and summer and have the staff help you recreate those small gardens.
Macy's Flower Show runs Sunday, March 28 through Sunday, April 11, 2010 except for Easter Sunday. Go a couple of times during the show's run as the plants and flowers will be changed out to keep the displays looking their best.