Thursday, March 20, 2014

Chicago Flower and Garden Show

Yesterday, I visited the Chicago Flower and Garden Show for the first time.  The big exhibit hall on Navy Pier was full of blossoms and greenery.  The show gardens were impressive, with waterfalls, koi ponds, fire pits, trees, playsets,  garden sheds, and gazebos-- all brought indoors for the week long show.
The structural elements of the gardens were surrounded by flowers from all seasons-- strikingly different than the melting piles of snow outside.  Forcing is easy for Spring bulbs, but these gardens had a wide array of plants including tree-sized rhododendrons and crabapples.   

Besides the dozen, or so, show gardens, there were demonstrations-- cooking, potting, gardening-- and a "marketplace" where vendors pitched everything from bulbs and cut flowers to home saunas and kitchen devices that slice and dice.   The show also had smaller exhibits, like windowbox gardens from various garden clubs.
Chicago Flower and Garden Show through March 23
$17 weekdays-$19 weekends

Rather than drive all the way to Chicago, I took the South Shore Line (or the NICTD, its less- charming modern name) from Michigan City, IN to downtown Chicago.  The train was on-time and was much easier than driving through heavy traffic. The round-trip fare, at $17, cost less than parking and tolls.  This was another first for me and I would do it again.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Maple Syrup Season 2014

While my colleagues complain that this winter will never end, the first signs of Spring are coming: longer days, migrating birds, and flowing sap.

Maple Syrup Festivals near Kalamazoo

March 8-9 Maple Sugar Madness Sarett Nature Center Benton Harbor

March 8-9 Maple Sugar Time Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore Chesterton, Indiana

March 15-16 Maple Sugar Festival Kalamazoo Nature Center Kalamazoo

March 15-16 Sugar Camp Days Bendix Woods County Park, New Carlisle, IN

March 22 Sugarbush Festival  Blandford Nature Center Pancake Breakfast  9am-12noon Grand Rapids

April 25 - 27 Wakarusa Maple Syrup Festival, Wakarusa, Indiana

April 25 - 27 74th Vermontville Maple Syrup Festival Vermontville

Also consider

Maple Sugaring from Michigan Advantage

Oakland County Maple Syrup Events

Shepherd Maple Syrup Festival
Maple Syrup festivals in the Midwest (mostly Wisconsin and Minnesota)

The Kalamazoo Nature Center shared these links on making syrup on their Facebook page

-Michigan Maple Syrup Association:
-Ohio State University Extension: Fact Sheet Hobby Maple Syrup Production:
-Maple Field Guide (specs on other species of maple):
-Sugar Bush Supply Co. in Mason, MI:

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Quietwater Symposium

Yesterday was the 19th Annual Quiet Water Symposium at Michigan State University's livestock Pavillion.  It offered a full day of exhibitions, speakers, and raffles focused on canoes, kayaks and related activities.
I was really impressed by the craftsmanship on display in the handmade boats.
 While it was not as fun as an afternoon on the river, it did point to warmer days ahead when the waters are not frozen.