|top||–||Banana Republic (similar)|
|handbag||–||Charming Charlie (c/o, similar)|
|bracelet||–||Kate Spade Saturday (similar)|
|sandals||–||Charming Charlie (c/o, similar)|
|lip||–||Burt’s Bees (Hawaiian Smolder)|
This 4th of July weekend we hosted my husband’s family in Chicago, including his parents, his sister, her husband, and her 10-year-old son, Calvin. We had a great time together as we always do, most of it spent drinking wine on our roof deck watching fireworks go off. It’s hard to spend the entire weekend drinking wine–tempting as it may be–so I planned a few day trips for the family. We did a river architecture tour, something I always highly recommend doing in Chicago, and we journeyed up north of the city to the Chicago Botanic Garden. None of us had ever been before, and we all had a great time taking in all the beauty there was to see.
I chose this tasseled floral skirt to wear. It was a warm day and I wanted something light and bright, plus tassels are a fun summer detail. I recently purchased it at Loft for 50% off during their 4th of July sale. For some similar options, I found this layered skirt with a tasseled tie, this coral lace skirt, and this ruffled coral skirt.
Given that it was a holiday weekend, the Botanical Gardens were a bit over-crowded the day we visited. If you have the choice, I’d recommend getting there early or going on a weekday to avoid the crowds.
· Fruit & Vegetable Garden ·
Due to the high volume of visitors, we didn’t linger long near the main entrance. After grabbing a map we quickly plotted our course around the gardens and started with the fruit and vegetable gardens, which held a charming and wide collection of produce, most of it well on its way to a ripe harvest.
I made out pretty well at this season’s sales. I just purchased this ring from Gorjana at Shopbop’s mid-summer sale. I love Gorjana’s signature yellow gold. In addition to this ring, I’d love to pick up these simple bar earrings, this twist ring, and these crescent studs–all in the same gorgeous saturated gold color.
In high summer I tend to avoid blowing out my hair at all costs–it’s simply too hot to be tolerable. Instead I opt for loose curls, like these. I find that it takes about an equal amount of time to blow out my hair as it does to curl it using my 2″ curling wand, but the benefit is that I’m not blasting myself with hot air for ten minutes. Plus, loose curls are a great look for a casual summer outfit.
One of my favorite things about this shoot was that I got to work with my nephew to take the majority of the photos. He’s already got a lot of experience under his belt–his mom is a stellar photographer and he’s got his own camera he likes to practice with. I was thrilled that he was so excited to help me shoot some photos of my outfit as we went through the gardens. He did a fantastic job!
· Bansai Collection ·
It’s a common misconception that bonsai trees are a type of tree–something small and pine-shaped. Instead, bonsai are regular trees that are trimmed to stay small and wired to grow in certain shapes. The Chicago Botanic Garden has a great collection of bonsai–everything from classic bonsai pines to flowering deciduous trees.
· Greenhouses ·
For whatever reason, I love cactuses and succulents. I can’t claim any objective reason for this; I just really like them. Perhaps it’s that cactuses and succelents seem so alien to me as a born-and-raised Michigander. But whatever the reason, whenever we visit a garden or greenhouse I always make a point of visiting the cactus room. The one at the Botanic Garden did not disappoint.
I particularly liked the pink-hued prickly pear cactuses (above) and the fuzzy-spined barrel cactuses (below).
· Rose Garden ·
After the subtle, dry cactus greenhouse the rose garden felt like a riot of smells and summer colors. While I wouldn’t say I’m obsessed with roses, as many women seem to be, I will say that I loved seeing all the different varieties of color they can come in. It really was an impressive display.
Peonies and pineapples.
· English Walled Garden ·
The English Walled Garden was hands-down my favorite part of the Botanic Garden. It was so quiant and pretty, filled with nooks and crannies that would be perfect for tucking yourself away with a good book for the afternoon.
My father-in-law couldn’t get over the name for these flowers. In general, I found that the names of flowers was a fun exercise in bringing a certain amount of poetry into everyday life–some of the names were beautiful, some austere, and some downright silly.
This little pool at the heart of the English Walled Garden was my favorite spot. It was so pretty and cloistered. I could have sat here for hours.
What’s an English Garden without an inordinate number of bright white daisies?
· Dwarf Conifer Garden ·
After I finally pulled myself away from the English Walled Garden, we made our way up into the Dwarf Conifer Garden, which I enjoyed so much I forgot to snap pictures. It was a vertical garden full of winding stairs and narrow paths. It felt like climbing up a mountain. I paricutlarly liked these fluffy white flowers. They had them spread throughout this section of the garden in various colors, but the white were my favorites.
· Japanese Garden ·
The Japanese Garden was a big hit among the whole family. I quite liked it myself. My husband and I visited Japan several years ago and fell in love with Japanese style gardens. We particularly liked the gardens we saw in Kyoto–the zen garden there is breathtaking. The zen garden portion of the Japanese Gardens here felt a bit underwhelming, but the rest was really beautiful and very reminiscent of what we saw in Japan.
The Japanese Garden was dotted with small rock shrines and full of heavily manicured trees that looked like enormous bonsai. You can see the cables they use to pull the branches into decorative shapes.
Koi! These actually looked much more brown in real life, but when I put this picture through my usual processing in Photoshop the blue in the fish scales really came out.
There’s one island that’s part of the Japanese Garden that you can’t walk on. No bridge goes there. When we reached the farthest point on the small island we discovered a sign saying that this island is called “Immortal Island.” No bridges lead there–to walk on that island, you must be immortal, or so the sign said. My nephew really liked this idea, and spent the rest of the walk around the Japanese Garden islands crafting ideas to get there to become immortal. We both agreed that the island was full of immortal geese.
· Evening Island ·
After our trip around the Japanese Garden islands we hit the one remaining part of the Garden we hadn’t seen. Evening Island had lights all along its bridges and wide paths, so I assume it’s best experienced at night. We enjoyed it anyway–it was full of rolling fields of flowers and weeping willows–which I’ve always loved. Lots of wildlife congregated here, especially ducks.
The sleepiest duck of all.
I can’t wait to go back to the Chicago Botanic Garden–it was so beautiful! I’ll have to try visiting in different seasons. I’d love to see their spring flower displays, and the colors turning in fall.