he 10th annual Chicago Flower & Garden Show at Navy Pier in March 2004 brought fresh blooms to inspire avid and novice gardeners to transform their private spaces into fashionable, relaxing havens. Jetsetmodern readers will be pleased to note the continuing trend of Modernist design elements in the garden, integrating minimalist landscape elements with Modernist furnishings for contemporary garden setting. Modernism was certainly not the prevailing aesthetic, but its inclusion and expansion in this year's show was a welcome sight. 22 spectacular display gardens offered lots of eye candy including several of particular interest to Modernists:
· "Living Well Outdoors"
Garden Design Magazine and English designer John Brookes, author of Garden Masterclass, created an elevated, multi-level, back yard garden intended for relaxing in modern simplicity. In partnership with JPS Landscaping, Northbrook, IL, the design incorporated two decks off a gracious bluestone courtyard centered around a beautiful cherry tree. The main area had a free planting of bulbs in gravel and was contrasted by box edged bulb filled borders. Plantings on the top level terminated into a gushing waterfall so that the sound of water would block the noise of the city and make the garden a pool of tranquility.
· "Oscar de la Renta's Garden"
The 2004 Chicago Flower & Garden Show lit the runway for famed fashion icon Oscar de la Renta who is designed the Mayor's Host Committee Garden for 2004. In partnership with Scott Byron and Company of Lake Bluff, Ill., the couturier created a lush garden, fusing traditional elements of an English garden with a Spanish-influenced tropical garden. Fans of vintage fashion would probably have been more struck by the beautiful "flowers" who were walking around- elegant models in new, but vintage-inspired gowns by de la Renta himself.
· "The Architectural Meadow"
The Chicago Botanic Garden partnered with nationally renowned landscape designer James van Sweden to create a stunning minimalist garden which was a fusion of horticulture, sculpture and natural shapes and textures. The design included a contemporary circle garden combining the elements of an upward spiraling grassy meadow with allium, tufted hair grass and whitespire birch. At the pinnacle was a bronzed sphere created by sculptor Grace Knowlton.
· "Zebrawood Shoe Tree Blooms Only Once Every 5,000 Years"
High heels make quite a fashion statement as did this shocking design by renowned Chicago fashion photographer Victor Skrebneski. Centered around a woman's best friend - shoes - this giant, 12-foot high-heeled shoe with ankle straps was a trompe l'oeil visual depiction of zebrawood. A Surrealist garden inspired by the paintings of Salvador Dalí, the striped heel of the shoe was "planted" in a closely cropped mound of grass. (Priscilla, Queen of the Desert would have had garden envy for sure.)
RikRock of Northbrook and Highland Park, Ill. created an inviting Oriental-themed garden complete with his trademark pond and waterfall. A bamboo house, Asian-inspired lanterns and interesting guide stones encouraged guests to wind through the display and experience traditional Oriental gardening customs, symbols, plants and more. The tea house with bamboo lattice and an overarching, open roof contained two water walls with hand-designed Oriental cut-outs and other interesting details. The garden behind the tea house showcased bonsai and the traditional pond and waterfall.
· "Rooftop Hideaway"
Rich's Foxwillow Pines created a key-shaped design that showcased three distinct yet exotic garden styles. A water feature kept the trio of intimate vignettes a surprise. Guests first entered an alpine garden complete with bountiful boulders. This lead to a beautiful mossy shade garden with hostas, hemlocks and rare conifers - ideal plants for shade. The Japanese garden with weeping evergreens of pendular form was truly a peaceful place to stop and catch your breath and admire the carved granite forms and bonsai.
· "The Tale of Two Villages"
The Garden Club of Oak Park and River Forest celebratee the 87-year-old club's rich community history and incorporated design elements in the style of the community's famous architect - Frank Lloyd Wright. Designed by Oak Park landscape designer Andrea Green, the private foreground showcased a garden of perennials and bulbs with a wide variety of vibrant purple, pink, white, lilac, sliver and blue flowers. The public space of the Garden Club's display focused on a blooming crab apple tree and viburnum carlesi showcased against a unique, hand-painted mural depicting the prominent public buildings in Oak Park and River Forest.
· "East Meets West - Response to Natural Space & Form"
Following one of the most popular outdoor landscaping trends, Triton College displayed a design inspired by Japanese gardens. Featuring an authentic Japanese tea house - complete with ongoing traditional tea ceremonies - the garden featured bonsai, orchids, Japanese maple, weeping pine, stream stones and Japanese lanterns. The ethereal design gave show attendees a peek into the rich gardening culture and manicured garden designs of Japan. Ikebana and bonsai demonstrations also took place.
At Mayor Daly's Reception gala event, the gardens provided a beautiful atmosphere while the bartenders poured martinis through flower-shaped ice sculptures for dramatic effect.
Visit www.chicagoflower.com for more information.