David and I had a chance to get a ‘behind the scenes’ tour of the Chicago Botanic Gardens this past Saturday via my friend and small group colleague Cindy Baker. And what an experience! This expanse of curated gardens and restored prairie sits upon 350+ acres of land in the far Northern reaches of the Chicago suburbs and is a plant lovers dream come true!
Cindy gave us an opportunity to check out their latest butterfly exhibit, while showing us their newest lab facility which studies plant adaptations, ecology and invasive species. We were able to see a glimpse of their extensive prairie seed bank as well as plant specimens dating back over 100 years.
We were also taken through several of the facility’s greenhouses where they seed, germinate and cultivate all the plants within the gardens from scratch. An epic undertaking that costs millions of dollars each year.
Celebrating its 40th anniversary, this oasis of green is a welcome sight to both city dwellers and suburbanites alike. Providing a balanced mix of education, conservation, retreat and aesthetics, CBG is a free gateway to nature for enthusiasts of all ages. And with a bike path that leads straight from the city limits, it’s one natural attraction that should not be missed. It’s one of the many institutional blessings I count within my list of what makes Chicago great and green.