Sunday, May 29, 2005
King of the Jungle
Give me a Roar!
With Memorial Day Weekend in full swing, Randy and I spent Saturday exploring the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago. The Lion King stood guard near one of the main exits, and we listened to his impressive tones all day. He put on quite a show. The zoo if free to all visitors, and it is open to the surrounding Lincoln Park at several points. This makes the zoo popular with city joggers, along with the usual throngs of tourists and family sight-seers.
Into the Border
During our stroll through the zoo, I kept an eye out for interesting landscaping in the zoo's extensive gardens. The gardens were enchanting, and from what I could tell, they were made up of typical garden plants, laid out in a lush and inviting way. Here's a border I particularly liked, a pleasing mix of hostas and purple irises.
A Victorian Retreat
Throughout our day in Chicago, rain clouds threatened ominously. Luckily, it only sprinkled a little here and there. During one brief cloud burst, we took refuge in the Lincoln Park Conservatory, a huge glasshouse built in the 1890s. Amazingly, it's located right next to the zoo, and it's also free to the public.
Foliage for Interest
Inside the Conservatory--a vast tropical oasis. I overheard a tour guide explain that before the Great Chicago Fire, the city sprawled about haphazardly like all booming frontier towns. After the fire, city founders put a lot of thought and energy into setting aside space for cultural institutions, like museums, zoos, and the Conservatory. It's a remarkable legacy.
The Orchid Room captivated me the most. I've never been a big fan of orchids. The plants look like dead twigs when they are not in bloom. But this room in the Conservatory was filled with a heady perfume, so sweet and beguiling, it was just overwhelming. Some of the blooms were gorgeous smiles, other strange monkey faces. One unremarkable little bloom boasted a label that read "Coconut Orchid." One wiff confirmed that it smelled just like it's name sake. Randy took a sniff and then said in his wry way, "Makes me want to drink a Pina Colada."