Chicago Botanical Gardens

gardensEarlier this month I visited the Chicago Botanical Gardens. My whole purpose was to spend a day of relaxation away from the hassles of the city. I love this city, but after a while it overwhelms. It was relaxing in the end, though several factors seemed determined to foil my goals (curses!).

First of all, I was caught by surprise with the $12 parking charge. I would’ve parked on the streets, since I’m used to that here, except by the time I saw any signs informing me of such a steep fee, I was already on a one-way road directly to the parking attendant. I should’ve checked their website more thoroughly (mention of the fee is buried about three links deep on their page), or just guessed they would find some way to gouge me. Free, indeed!
P1020031.jpgOnce I got inside, I realized I should’ve waited until school was back in session. Throngs of people and screaming kids running all over the place made me wonder if I’d picked a fitting location for my “peaceful” retreat from urban life. At one point, I saw some children viciously tearing apart a tree at the waterfall. This poor, decrepit vision of Charlie Brown’s forlorn tannenbaum was propped up by a stake to keep it upright. Clearly, some gardener had been taking great pains to keep this tree alive. These kids decided it was the perfect tree to tear limb from limb so they could throw the branches down the waterfall and see how far they went. After an imploring look from me, their mother finally got off her phone to yell at them. The damage was already done.
Spider IslandOnce I went further in, however, the crowds dissipated, I forgot about my lighter wallet, and it finally became the relaxing environment one would expect a place full of fauna to be. My favorites would have to be the sensory garden and the Japanese garden. Especially in the Japanese garden, you can almost forget you’re in a Chicago suburb and imagine you’re out in the country somewhere (or, as we like to say, the stix). Be sure to visit Spider Island, which is off the beaten path and features a secluded spot by the lake almost fully enclosed by trees, where one could probably take a nap undisturbed for hours.

See more photos here.

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