The cold weather and forecast for snow didn’t keep some Chicagoans from getting into the spring spirit.
Eager gardeners flocked to the Chicago Flower and Garden Show on Sunday to start planning for when the temperatures rise and the ground warms up enough to begin planting.
“I just bought a new house so I’m actually getting into gardening myself,” Anna Miller said. “I have my mom here to help me a lot, hopefully I don’t mess it up too bad.”
The show, which ended its nine-day run Sunday, transformed the massive Festival Hall into a greenhouse was filled with booths and flower displays.
“We have a vegetable garden so (my husband) will start mowing and tilling as soon as the snow melts, if it starts snowing,” Amy Ramon said. “Hopefully we’ll get some ideas. We’ll probably give it a couple of weeks to warm up again.”
About 45,000 people visited the show this year, show organizers said. On Sunday, hundreds of visitors, experts and vendors still wandered around Navy Pier, many of them holding to their cameras, ready to snap pictures of flowers and arrangements for when spring finally comes.
“The key is planning your garden, and now its a good time to plan and start cleaning,” said Tony Abruscato, president of Flower Show Productions. “We encourage people to come to the show and get ideas. … Our goal is to educate the next generation of gardeners and provide information to consumers.”
This year, visitors got to see 24 landscapes and three gardens, including two new rose gardens.
“Roses are one of the most popular flowers in the world, and people have always expressed they had many questions and had a lot of issues growing them in our climate zone,” Abruscato said. “The show hasn’t had a rose garden in 15 years, so it was kind of a big deal for us.”
The American Rose Association volunteered to answer questions.
“Some people say their roses are dying, and I explain to them that a rose bud here in the Chicago area should be taken and buried deeper in the soil so that (it) doesn’t freeze,” expert grower Frank DeVries said. “That’s usually what kills the rose here in Chicago.”
He should know, he has about 60 roses in his Oak Forest greenhouse and is waiting for the ground to be warmer to start planting more.
Charity stands were also present at the show, with a replica of the rooftop garden at the Ronald McDonald House near Lurie Children’s hospital, and a small garden that is slated to be donated and transported to the El Valor Children’s Center in Pilsen after the show.
Many visitors left the show carrying flowers, ornaments and equipment. Those who bought plants at the show will have to make sure to keep them away from the frost for at least another month, Abruscato said.