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Chasing Spring

Even without the constancy of a garden close to me at the moment, I am keenly aware of all the different growths that occur throughout the year. My senses are heightened from currently living on a canal boat, being closer to nature, and I feel this is all the more from having acutely experienced winter this year.

My obsession starts with snowdrops, as soon as I glimpse a stray flowering one in a graveyard or somewhere I suddenly crave to see drifts of them and set about seeking such scenes. I am not a galanthophile at all, my favourite is still Galanthus nivalis - common European one, and then maybe about four or five other curious ones (S. Arnott - fragrant, Hippolyta - a double, the curious crinkly one - Diggory and Trump the perfectly patterned almost ace of spades one). What I am always after is a good coloniser, and nothing satisfies me more than seeing flowers like these defy and disobey the laws of human control, not sticking to the defined fenced areas that they were designat…
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Chicago: "The Greenest City in the World"

It is always interesting to get a sense of what the attitude of a place is towards horticulture, if and how it engages with ecology and nature, especially cities, and then to see what those influencers are. Chicago’s reputation has always stood out as being a bit of a pro-green city, with the city (our equivalent of a local council) striving to make it the greenest and most sustainable city in the world. It boasts the most green roofs in the country (over 400 according to some claims), with the City Hall setting an example by establishing one of the first ones on their own roof to reflect their motto 'City in the Garden'. All of this was strongly advocated by a mayor called Richard Daley who served for six terms from 1989 to 2011, which current mayor Rahm Emanuel seems to be happy to carry on in the vein of. A bit like what mayor Michael Bloomberg did for art and horticulture in New York. Key figures like architect Frank Lloyd Wright who came to Chicago after the Great Chicago…

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Chicago Botanic Garden - Prairies and Green Roofs

Chicago Botanic Garden is huge - 385 acres with 27 garden areas and ‘four natural areas’ and is interesting in that it is a chain of nine islands set in a forest preserve. It is immaculately kept, whilst I was there they had a Roberto Burle Marx inspired annual display, and unfortunately they had experienced some flooding and damage in the garden. Environmental issues like these is becoming more and more a common situation that many gardens have to face, and it is always interesting to see how gardens deal with it. It was clear where the damage was, a drift of Cotoneaster shrubs were rendered dead and the bottom of a row of box hedge had a dusty appearance and was a different colour to the rest of the bush. The best thing was that the garden instead of trying to hide the damage or being really apologetic about it, used it as an educational opportunity with simple signs informing the public of what had happened, and making them aware of the problems that can arise in changing climates.