Chicago’s Botanic Garden and Michigan’s Meijer Garden Review – Two in One Day and Much More

Finally, there was that promised stink from the Corpse Plant (titan arum) at the Chicago Botanic Garden on Monday morning (September 29)-but I missed it…again.  However, I did see it before it totally shriveled (September 30) when there was only a faint smell left.  How can a plant, unusual though it is, bring huge numbers of people from everywhere so that at 9:00 pm on Monday, there was a two-hour wait to view it.  Early Tuesday, the wait was much shorter but the plant was beginning to close. But, there she was-Alice the Amorphophallus



This experience was very different than my first attempt to see the giant Corpse plant that I had been watching for months.  I was returning from a trip that time, too.  I had been in Grand Rapids, Michigan and stopped at the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, now celebrating its twentieth year and I was awed.  The new Japanese Garden was huge and absolutely beautiful, though quite different from that in the Chicago Botanic Garden.  It was lovely to wander the twisty paths and cross the bridge.


Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park Japanese Garden

There was also an exhibit of dahlias that we found fascinating.  Dahlias were displayed in several rooms.


Dahlia show, Meijer Garden

Our time didn’t allow a long visit and we headed for home.  Our drive was a few hours and we were tired, but before going home, my husband suggested we stop at the Chicago Botanic Gardens to see what happened to the that huge titan arum we had visited week after week.  It was late in the day when we tried to pull of the highway but the cars were backed up to that point and we thought Ravinia was the draw.  And it was but we didn’t know word had gone out that the huge plant had to have the petals stripped. The line to see it was long but moved quickly and people felt compelled, as we did, to see what had happened.


The line


The petals were removed

People were explaining that the plant wasn’t acting the way it was expected to and we listened and observed and felt disappointed.  It was worth the two gardens that day to gain some closure.


One leaf from the first plant


Petals from the large Corpse plant

It was a few weeks longer until dahlias came to the Chicago Botanic Garden - in fact this was an entire Midwest display.  Frederick Brill explained that, "Next year is a regular show for Central States Dahlia Society just like this year's show and competition.  But in 2017, we will have a combined show with the American Dahlia Society and  the Midwest Dahlia Conference.  This national umbrella organization and this regional umbrella organization will join us in exhibiting and competing for the best in their class, etc.  This will overflow Burnstein Hall as it did several years ago when we just combined with the Midwest Dahlia Conference.  At that time we extended our exhibition into the greenhouse galleries as well."



Dahlia show poster, photo: Rachel Brill



dahlia display, photo: Rachel Brill

I was told that there are more titan arum plants tucked away waiting to burst forth at any time.  Each one takes ten years to reach the time for flowering and that only last a night and day. These exotic plants-in Denver, Chicago and elsewhere bring many visitors and create perfect teaching moments.  This is a great way to grab attention from so many competing activities and focus on nature and science.



The story of "Alice"


Photos: B.Keer unless otherwise noted






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