Tuesday, June 9, 2009

There's a Sweet Home & Garden in Chicago

The title of this blog post pretty much tells the story. While in Chicago for Spring Fling, we garden bloggers were fortunate to get to see Carolyn Choi's beautiful home and garden. She's the author of the popular Sweet Home & Garden Chicago, one of the very first garden blogs I ever read, and one of the coordinators of this year's Spring Fling.

Before we arrived at Carolyn's home, she met the group at Andie's for lunch. Mom and I weren't going to eat there at first, because I'd neglected to put in our reservation, but after we had a look at the buffet and were assured that we could eat with the group anyway, we're glad we did.

I'm kind of a picky eater and Mediterranean food is not a cuisine that I'm all that familiar with, so I wasn't sure I'd "get my money's worth." I needn't have worried. Even if I hadn't liked every single thing I put on my plate, the baklava would have made the entire cost of the meal worth it. I just wish I'd had more time to eat more of it!

As the bus pulled up in front of Carolyn's home, we'd just been talking about what a charming, beautiful neighborhood we were in. It is an historical part of Chicago and learning that fact didn't surprise me in the least. The house next door to Carolyn's was designed by a student of Frank Lloyd Wright, one of Chicago's and the world's finest architects. (But I liked Carolyn's better).

The front entrance was welcoming and included the famous 'Autumn Moon' Japanese Maple tree that has been featured on Carolyn's blog at various times. If I had a tree that was this stunning, I'd probably find a way to work it into most every blog post. It truly is stop-you-in-your-tracks gorgeous.

We found our way to the back yard through a side gate, and found ourselves suddenly in the middle of a lush, green, charming, cozy garden.

A path led us around the perimeter of the gardens with many beautiful plants and vignettes along the way to a small garden pond.

Continuing on around, we were brought to a covered area with a table and several chairs for relaxing, which several in our group took advantage of.

L to R: Diana from Sharing Nature's Garden in Texas, Anneliese from CobraHead Blog in Wisconsin, and Robin from Bumblebee Blog in Maryland

Carolyn's rain chain was designed to have a continual flow of water flowing down it, which got me thinking about how I could do the same with mine.

Many of us oohed and ahhed over a couple of irises that were in bloom.

Carolyn was the perfect hostess, having bottled water on ice for us, and inviting us into her beautiful home. She is an accomplished artist and many of her works are displayed throughout her home.

One lucky Spring Flinger won a drawing for one of Carolyn's original paintings. I told Frances (of Fairegarden in Tennessee), "If I couldn't win it, I'm so glad you did." She was thrilled to be taking it home with her, as any of us would be. What a nice thing for you to do, Carolyn! (That's Frances on the right in the photo, with Carolyn.)

As we left the garden, each of us was presented with a Proven Winners® Supertunia Vista Silver Berry, provided by Proven Winners. I've grown Supertunias before and these are
not your grandmother's petunias!

Carolyn works at Gethsemane Garden Center, a garden superstore located in the Andersonville area of Chicago. Before Mom and I left on Sunday to go home, we went to Gethsemane and Carolyn happened to be working that afternoon. She helped me with a gardening problem and also alerted me that the gift shop had some blown-glass vegetable ornaments. She'd remembered that my Christmas tree contains many of these type of ornaments, and now I'll think of Carolyn when I put the ear of corn on the tree every year!

I also bought a cobalt blue strawberry pot (half-price due to a broken side piece which I will hide by putting it to the back), a Silver Lace Fern (
Pteris ensiformis), some Bunchberry (Cornus canadensis), a Clustered Bellflower (Campanula glomerata 'Joan Elliott'), and an Alpine Strawberry (Fragaria x ananassa 'Lipstick') which I will plant in the strawberry pot along with some runners from my 'Pink Panda' that I've had for a couple of years.

Once again, thank you, Carolyn, for opening your home and garden to us. It will be especially fun to read your blog now, knowing just where things are when you talk about them and actually "hearing" your voice.

Stained glass window in Carolyn's home


Janet, The Queen of Seaford said...

Good morning Kylee, what a nice post on your visit to Carolyn's home. What a pretty house and the gardens are great! I am taken with the Iris that is purple and yellow. They seem to be the colors I lean towards. What a super trip you all had!

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Aahhh this brings back some sweet memories Kylee. I wish I had gone to the garden center and brought home some treasures. How in the world did you manage to get photos of Carolyn's garden without people in them?? You are a master of the camera.

Sweet Home and Garden Carolina said...

What a sweet post, Kylee :-) It's so nice to see your home and garden through other's eyes.

It was delightful to meet you and your dear mother and you know the door is always open for you two if you ever visit Chicago again. I have the best garden suite in town.

Catherine@AGardenerinProgress said...

Her gardens are beautiful. It's been really fun reading about everyones visit to Chicago for Spring Fling.
I received my gardening by letter project envelope yesterday and wanted to say thank you for your beautiful hand made card and the okra seeds! Not too much longer and it'll be your turn :)

Frances said...

Hi Kylee, what a delightful read about the trip to Carolyn Gail's. Her hospitality was flawless. I was lucky that day, thanks for the link love! But you were lucky to get to speak to her under less busy circumstances and even buy plants and other must have items! And about that food at Andie's, I wish there was a restaurant near here that had that quality and variety of food, I would never cook again! :-)

Dee/reddirtramblings said...

Kylee, that was some great writing. How did you get all of those pictures of her garden with no people in them. It was crowded back there. Thanks for the memories.~~dee

Carol Michel said...

Same question as Dee, how did you get all those pics w/ no people?

Good review!

Carol, May Dreams Gardens

Pam/Digging said...

Kylee, I especially love this post because I get to see Carolyn Gail's garden. What I mean to say is, by the time I got to the back garden, it was so crowded with Spring Flingers that I couldn't really see it! I ended up retreating to the front garden to enjoy that Japanese maple more closely, and I missed the tour of Carolyn's home. Drat! But thank you for the great pics. Carolyn really is a sweet and gracious hostess.

Jane Doe said...

Wonderful post, Kylee. What a lovely garden to visit.

Gail said...

Hi Kylee, I loved this post and the sweet memories of SF and Carolyn Gail's home and garden....How did you manage to photograph this garden without all of us crowded in? However you did it...thanks because I missed several plants and the views. The orange iris is unusual and fantastic, btw...gail

Anonymous said...

I knew Carolyn's home was lovely from other peeks I'd seen, but thanks so much for including your wonderful tour, Kylee! It's so great to put a few faces to the many names we see each day as well. :)

garden girl said...

What a wonderful post Kylee! I'm so glad you got these shots of Carolyn's garden, and joined us at Andies for lunch. I had such fun getting to know you and your mom over lunch!

Yours, Carolyn's, and MBT's blogs were among the very first garden blogs I came across, and I'm so glad to have met you all thanks to SF.

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