Ten Cool Things I Discovered in Chicago

There was lots to see at the IGC show.

Whatever way you spin it, Chicago is a great getaway. Pair a week there with a gardening conference, fabulous fall weather, and interior design shopping and you get a better picture of why I loved my visit to the Windy City. My production crew and I headed north for the annual Independent Garden Center Show where we met up with old friends, bloggers, Garden Home partners, and a whole slew of Chicagoans ready to show off their city. These were a few of my favorite experiences and finds:

Peterson Garden Project

The Peterson Garden Project is a collection of Chicago’s urban gardens started by my friend LaManda Joy and inspired by WWII victory gardens. I love American history, so pair this with my appreciation of community gardening and you’ll understand just how much I enjoyed learning about them.

Moss Garden at Garfield Park Conservatory

I spent a morning at the Garfield Park Conservatory and each of their nearly dozen garden rooms were fabulous. While the outdoor garden drew my attention, it was the moss garden full of ferns and other tropical growth that really transported me to a different place.


Artiflor is a Dutch company that had a booth of home and garden décor at IGC. Besides the fact that the two owners were a couple of the nicest men I’ve met in a long time, they had some fabulous and fun designs.

Topsy-turvy Pots

As I was rushing to find the room where I was meant to speak, I got distracted by this funky, and functional, garden sculpture. I can’t remember who made it, but I sure do wish I had bought one.

Colorful Dramm Water Tools

Having lived through this summer’s Arkansas drought, I’ve become well acquainted with my hoses, sprinklers, and water tools. Coming across the Dramm booth at IGC was like stepping into the sunlight! These watering tools are not only functional, they’re beautiful! I wanted one of everything, all in different colors.

Jellies at the Shedd Aquarium

Speaking of colors, I have never seen color composition like the jellyfish exhibit at Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium. We got an early morning pass and had those silent wonders all to ourselves. With about 10 different species in the exhibit, I found myself simply mesmerized. Luckily we had penguins to visit post-jellyfish, otherwise I may still be there!

Salvaged Metal Cello

My friend Julia Edelmann from Buckingham Interior Design has a simple, stylish and somewhat quirky sense of design, and this upright bass shows that off. It was resting in a corner of her office, and she mentioned that it was made of recycled WWI aircraft metal! She bought it for her a son, a cello player, but it ended up in her shop. Sadly, it didn’t fit into my carry-on.

Jute Light Fixture

Julia also brought us to an apartment in downtown Chicago that she had recently redesigned. While the views stole the show, this particular light fixture made from jute really centered the breakfast nook and gave the airy space a cozy feel.


We began our final day in Chicago at the former Sears Tower, 103 floors up at the SkyDeck. While a couple members of my crew were nervous about the glass-floor lookout, I couldn’t wait to experience that view!

All in all, it was a fabulous trip full of good finds and great memories. I can’t wait to head back to IGC again next year.

8 Responses to Ten Cool Things I Discovered in Chicago

  1. Kathy says:

    Topsy Tury Pots

    Take a 5 or 6 foot piece of rebar and drive it 2 feet into the ground. This keeps the pots from tipping over. Drill extra drainage holes in bottom pot and place center hole on the rebar. Then add additional pots tipping one to one side, the next to the other. Gives the same look for a fraction of the price of the pots. :o)

  2. liz pisani says:

    My daughter gave me the Tipsy pots for my birthday a couple of years ago and they were easy to make. The challenge is keeping them well watered especially after this summer. We first saw them in an issue of Birds and Blooms magazine. She now also has a set of her own. I really enjoyed your article on the things in Chicago.

  3. Linda L. says:

    I’m glad you enjoyed the Sky Deck, you couldn’t drag me out on anything like that. Isn’t this the same pose next to the hedges at Arley Hall in what, 1983? You always seem to have fun in Chicago. What were some of your favorite restaurants there?

    • Richard says:

      CHI restaurants. Topolobampa, RokaAkor, Spiaggia, Frontera grill,harry careys steaks, Als Italian beef, Joe’s stone crab,Ditka’s, any Greek place, Gene and Georgetti, pizzeria UNO,

  4. joyce says:

    Fun and interesting. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Marg Murray says:

    Glad you have fun in Chicago – have to say I would have been with you at the “glass wall” only I would have been turned around and leaning over…. Keep up the entertaining and informative sites !

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