After a hiatus of a number of years, Mark and I went to the Windy City for the 2013 Antiques & Garden Fair put on by the Chicago Botanic Garden. This year's event featured more than 100 vendors from the Midwest to as far away as Nantuckett Island and England. Everyone sets up their space with vintage, antique and ethnic treasures in tents and assorted buildings right in the middle of the CBG.
The weather at the CBG was wet and windy — pretty much the same thing happening at home. It reminded us of our trip to the gardens with the Wisconsin Hardy Plant Society in the fall of 2008 when the gardens closed due to record rainfall while we were visiting. The photo above — flooding that closed parts of the parking areas on Friday — gave us a clue about what to expect as we walked from our car to the Visitor Center.
As we exited that building onto the bridge that takes you out into the gardens we could see how high the water was in the lake that is a feature of the landscape. Note that there isn't any green showing on the trees and espalied shrub on the wall. Virtually all the outdoor blooming plants we saw were things that had been brought on in the greenhouses and put in place before the Antiques Fair.
How long can these plants survive this much standing water?
Mark snapped the picture above in 2008. It shows water lapping at the shoreline path along this promenade area on the way from the Visitor Center to the Regenstein Center. Compare it to the shots below which he took on Friday — clearly conditions appear to be much worse this time.
Plants as well as the path were underwater. I love this area of the garden with stepped rows of hedges and groundcovers, including boxwoods and cottoneaster. The railing along the pathway (below) is barely visible above the water.
Cold, wet and windy conditions meant the tents housing the dealers, the visitors, and the antiques had be securely fastened down.
Even with all the weight holding things in place, we did see a bit of occasional rippling of a wall filled with paintings.
Once inside the tents, however, we pretty much were able to forget about the weather, though most visitors and even some vendors kept their outdoor jackets on.
The view below is the bonsai display courtyard in 2008. For the Antiques Fair, even the covered walkways around this courtyard are put to use.
The courtyard became a staging area for LP gas cannisters for the heaters that were whooshing warm air into the covered walkways that had been closed in with plastic sheeting to make more display stalls for the vendors. It was nice and warm in this area.
Once inside there was so much to see, that I put the woeful weather and the tragedy in Boston out of my mind for a few hours. I just honed in on beautiful old objects.
Among my favorites was this delicate Chinese bamboo vest displayed on an equally lovely stand. The garment was meant to be worn in the summer under a kimono to protect the fabric and keep it from touching one's hot sweaty skin.
As you can see from the topiary in front of the vest, most vendors had some kind of fabulous flowers in their booth. This dealer had an assortment of topiaries and all of them were for sale, too.
Later this week, I'll share more photos of the antiques we saw as well as the stunning floral displays that were put together especially for this event.