On an evening excursion to downtown Chicago last weekend, I stumbled upon a fabulous find. The Lurie Garden at Millennium Park is a well-known tourist attraction to both Chicago residents and visitors. But shrouded in the dark of night, it felt like my own secret garden.
I drove to Chicago for a wedding that went from early Friday to late Saturday, so Sunday evening was my time to explore. After bumping along through hours of construction and traffic, I was grateful to find a tranquil place where noise and distraction couldn’t find me. Even though the street musicians were amazing and the Chicago Blues Festival was raging, I needed a silent break.
Photo by Hometown Invasion Tour/Courtesy Flickr
I’m not sure whether I was in the “dark plate,” where the darker, lush plants were, or the “light plate,” which had more colorful vegetation. But after hours of examining GPS screens and reading street signs, the last thing I wanted to do was read a map to find out. I just wanted to explore. I didn’t even want to wrench myself from the moment long enough to take pictures, not that I could have seen much in the dark.
Photo by Zolk/Courtesy Flickr
Next time I hope to go a little earlier before sunset so that I can not only take more photos, but also read the placards with plant listings and go for a guided tour. Lurie Garden also offers an interesting lecture series covering topics from sustainable strategies to natural lawn care and workshops that give a closer look at the perennial garden. The only vegetation I could actually see was great plumed grass and foxglove. I never thought of myself as a “city girl” because I’ve never lived in a big city, but the fact that I could identify only a few of the plants has put me to shame.
That’s another benefit urban gardens provide. Not only do they contribute to urban revitalization, decrease climate change and provide free entertainment, but they also give us the knowledge of plants that we lost when we started moving away from nature. I love Chicago’s motto, “Urbs in Horto.” It certainly was the “City in a Garden,” I just wish more cities were.
Photo by Ariel Tilson
I don’t know if I’d enjoy a walk through the Lurie Garden in the daytime as much as this first time. I want to selfishly keep my experience to myself. The moonlit stroll through Lurie Garden felt so romantic and private, that is, until the security guards chased me out to lock up for the night.