Chicago ala Mexicana

One of the events I looked forward to the most as Spring Fling 2009 neared was the tour of Rick Bayless’ garden. My husband and I are long-time fans of his south-of-the-border cooking and his flare for sharing the Mexican culture with the culinary world.

One of my husband’s favorite Bayless cookbooks is called, “Salsas that Cook,” and it’s so fun — chock-full of salsa recipes designed to wake you up.
Spread over two small urban lots, the garden was delightful. It had texture and old-world charm — lots of little rooms with seating and pots of plants and vines working their way up brick walls and wooden trellises and arbors. It was very much a courtyard garden — with several courtyards, if you will.
Our hosts and the keepers of the garden, Bill and Lori Shores, gave us a full rundown of how this small space provides the micro greens and peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, radishes, grapes and many other fruits and vegetables for Rick’s two restaurants, Frontera Grill and Topolobampo.
This space added onto the second story of the home is a greenhouse, in which Bill overwinters plants and gets a head start on seedlings. He also grows micro greens under lights in the basement all year long.
I loved the warm embrace of this garden — so cozy and aged — like a good wine. I clearly had garden envy here, and described this as much more the kind of garden that suits my liking than my own, sprawling suburban garden.

I guess the grass always seems greener on the other side.

But then again, I’m already eating tomatoes out of my HOT HOT zone 9 garden, so that’s definitely a plus!

The Lurie lures us in…

After a wonderful tour of the Chicago Botanic Garden, the Spring Fling Garden Bloggers all went to Millenium Park where we were treated to a tour of the Lurie Garden by the Chief Horticulturalist, Colleen Lockovitch.

There was a river of purple — made up of four different types of Salvia. All the attendees will have shots of this river of plants — they were amazing in their own right, but I loved the contrast with the bold Chicago skyline.
Colleen showed us all “her” plants, talked about the past, the design and the creation of the garden, as well as its upkeep and evolution going forward.
And then she said it.
What every gardener says when having guests.
“Oh – don’t look at that corner!”
I didn’t take a picture of it, though I was tempted. Even a professional garden horticulturalist suffers from “gardener’s excuse.” I could totally relate. And it made me feel better about MY humble garden. Gardeners are kindred spirits the world over, whether their gardens be large or small. It was an entertaining and a comforting moment for me. And frankly, I saw the Lurie garden in a whole new, human light.
See the skyscrapers peeking through this tree?
Everyone really listened to what Colleen had to say and kept pretty quiet during her whole tour — unusual for us — we’re a pretty rowdy group!
And the garden had this wonderful display with information readily available to the public.
More alliums. Just not blooming yet. See … I’m drawn to them like flies to honey.
That’s if for Day #1. More to come …