Autumn color arrived early and fast this year in Illinois, giving us brilliant color that didn't last a long time. When I planned to visit the Chicago Botanic Garden this first weekend of November, I initially thought the tree canopy would still have some color to enjoy. During my visit yesterday, my anticipation was tempered as most of the leaves had already fallen. On a cool, cloudy and occasionally misty day, I had to find other sources of color as I hiked the CBG grounds.
My visit to CBG was planned around the launch of their new smartphone app -- The CBG Garden Guide. Visitors can download the free app and be treated to walking tours, plant information and a real-time mapping tool to help navigate through the gardens. Because my internal sense of direction is average at best, I found this last feature particularly helpful when I found myself asking, "Now where am I in relation to the English Walled Garden?" The impressive app was a labor of love of Cheri Van Deraa, director of online communication, with content support from Boyce Tankersley, director of living plant documentation, and a whole cadre of CBG staff and volunteers.
After a demo of the Garden Guide, I walked a few of the gardens with Julie McCaffrey, media relations manager, to give the app a trial run on my iPhone 4S. The walking tour of the rose garden, for example, provided information on specific roses as well as rose gardening in general. CBG has just hit the tip of the iceberg with the Garden Guide and I look forward to future updates.
After thanking Julie and the rest of the staff for the launch invitation, I ventured back out into the gardens with camera in hand (and a warmer coat on me). My initial disappointment in the lack of color in tree canopy was quickly wiped away by a wide array of flowers and foliage throughout the gardens. In the photos below, I hope you can see the diverse palette of color still on display at Chicago Botanic Garden. If you're in the area, I'd recommend a visit just to witness the interplay and color coordination between annual flowers and edible foliage in the fruit and vegetable garden.