Do Green. Do Gala!

Do you like sneak peeks? What about delicious hors d’oeuvres and cocktails? The chance to win a roundtrip flight for two? We already know you like the Chicago Flower & Garden Show! Therefore, you’re invited to join hosts Nina and Bob Mariano at this year’s Preview Benefit, Evening in Bloom!

Matt Mansueto Photography Web-9243

Flower Show Productions president, Tony Abruscato, officially debuts the 2014 Chicago Flower & Garden Show last year.

Join us 6 to 9:30 p.m. on Friday, March 13 at Navy Pier for an exclusive first look at the 2015 show in all its grandeur. Tickets are $125 each and include cocktails and delectable appetizers.

Matt Mansueto Photography Web-9042

A longtime, pre-show tradition, Evening in Bloom is a great chance to scope out the setup, enjoy food and entertainment from Chicago’s finest, and support a great cause.

Matt Mansueto Photography Web-9300

A portion of the night’s proceeds will benefit the Alzheimer’s Association, Illinois Fire Chiefs Association and the Peterson Garden Project. Patrons have the ability to select which organization they would like to support at ticket checkout.

Matt Mansueto Photography Web-9049
As if you needed another reason to attend, each Evening in Bloom ticket purchased automatically enters you into a drawing for a chance to win two roundtrip airfare tickets courtesy of Qatar Airways!

Matt Mansueto Photography Web-9219

Evening in Bloom co-chairs and hosts, Nina and Bob Mariano, take the stage at 2014’s Evening in Bloom.

Participating restaurants include:

Matt Mansueto Photography Web-3553
So grab your tickets today for this exclusive Preview Benefit. We can’t wait to see you as we kick of the 2015 Chicago Flower & Garden Show in style!


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Looking Forward to Spring

Good news: The Chicago Flower & Garden Show is only weeks away! Bad news: Chiberia is back. To help ease your winter blues, we’re listing 5 things to look forward to at the 2015 Chicago Flower & Garden Show!

 1. Rose Garden Galore

This year we are welcoming not one, but two rose gardens to the show. One will focus on climbing and shrub varieties while the other will show off a sea of miniatures. Both gardens will dazzle while demonstrating that roses are easy to grow and need not be relegated to a shrub or border for fear of disease and maintenance demands.

Rose garden

 2. RBA Cake Decorating Competition

The Retail Bakers of America (RBA) are coming to the Chicago Flower & Garden Show to host their annual National Cake Decorating Competition. In partnership with Pillsbury, the RBA will bring together the best of the best in cake decorating to compete for over $14,000 in prize money. Contestants will compete in a 2-day event where each baker is required to complete a themed wedding cake, sculpted cake and creative cake. Don’t miss this fierce event as it unfolds March 21 and 22 at the show.

 3. Evening in Bloom Gala

Every year on the eve of the show’s public opening, the Chicago Flower & Garden Show hosts an exclusive preview benefit, Evening in Bloom. As a sneak peek at what’s to come, Evening in Bloom is an exciting event that brings together friends and fans of the show to benefit local charities. The official beneficiaries of the 2015 show are: Alzheimer’s Association, Illinois Fire Chiefs Association and Peterson Garden Project. When purchasing your tickets, you may designate a portion of your proceeds to any beneficiary. Along with your support of a local charity, Evening in Bloom is a fun-filled social event that includes music, a variety of food and drinks and, of course, a first glimpse of the show’s spectacular gardens. To purchase tickets click here.

 4. Irish Heritage Garden

Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day, the Chicago Flower & Garden Show is introducing an Irish Heritage Garden. Complete with Irish stone, backdrops and other traditional elements, this Irish-themed space will be a can’t-miss experience.

 5. Photography Competition

Presented by Birds & Blooms magazine, the show’s annual photography competition is a must-see event. Walk through our competition gallery to see the beautiful work of photographers of all ages and experience. Categories of the event include still life, abstract and landscape. A panel of judges will individually review photographs, and class winners along with “best in show“ will receive special recognition for the duration of the event. The deadline for photo entries is approaching on February 2, so be sure to capture your masterpiece before it’s too late. Click here to learn more and register.

We know you’re counting down the days till spring…so be sure to get a head start by visiting the Chicago Flower & Garden Show this March 14-22. Tickets are available now!

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Guest Blog Post: Designing a Stress-free Environment

This week, we’re honored to share tips from Deborah Weisenhaus from Art of Imagination, whose beautiful, custom designs will be on display at the 2015 Chicago Flower & Garden Show, taking place March 14-22, 2015. Read on for her tips on creating a harmonious and peaceful environment for events large and small.

A nature-inspired design in a residential or venue setting can reflect balance and harmony while also stimulating the senses in a calming way.

When one walks into a space I’ve designed, I try to generate excitement and wonder by making them take a closer look at the details. These basic design details I use include color, unique textures, patterns and light—with sound and smell as an undercurrent layer.

When I assess the perimeters of what to design, I like to know how everything will flow through the space with its functionality—if I’m designing for an event, how is it being used with the physical setup? What will the guest movement look like? If it’s an interior room, what’s the prime usage? Once those answers are determined then placement of the furniture, décor and equipment is laid out with a conscious flow of movement to keep it minimal without clutter.

AOI-PrairieProductions-Tablescape (34)

Choosing the color palette is such a meaningful part of creating a peaceful, inviting environment. Each hue makes a statement and can reflect various cultures and subliminal meanings.

Overhead swag with LED lights
For example, green symbolizes nature and has a calming, refreshing effect. I can combine green from live plants with décor elements such as accent pillows. This will also be used in conjunction with other colors to create an entire composition—from walls to furniture to linens. Don’t forget, white and black are important accents to incorporate strength and influence emotions.

Textures within the fabrics and décor can add layers of softness with contrasting roughness as inspired by nature.

Lighting is the strongest design element, and can include overall illumination from natural sunlight, pinspotting lights on a focal point, or decorative lighting to accentuate certain features. Placing dimmers and timers on the light source will add transitions.

Patterns can be very versatile and help set the mood of your design. I use gobo patterns of nature (branches, leaves) on a light source, which makes it appear that the shadows are being cast from a window.

AOI-PrairieProductions-Gobos (2)
Sound and smell are the final layers that pull everything together and enhance the total guest experience. Essential oils, beeswax and soy candles will create a fresh aroma and invigorate the sense. Soft soundscapes like raindrops, waterfall or even singing birds can filter within the space to relax the spirit or create an inviting space for guests.

It’s never too late to use your senses to harmonize design elements with your own Zen-inspired design. We love creating magical forests, spa-like environments and nature-inspired themes, especially when we can add “green” elements to the event. We’re happy to offer any Chicago Flower & Garden Show readers a complimentary hour with Deborah to discuss ways to make your space more Zen. Let’s get started!

Don’t miss Deborah and her beautiful Art of Imagination designs at the 2015 Chicago Flower & Garden Show, taking place March 14-22, 2015 at Navy Pier. For the most up-to-date inspiration, follow Art of Imagination on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram!

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Guest Blog Post: Adorning Candles

Brighten up your winter festivities with candles—accented with simple, DIY elements. Erika Jones of A Social Life shares her custom tricks to transform any candle in minutes. Don’t miss her inspiring tablescapes at the 2015 Chicago Flower & Garden Show!

Candles are the perfect accessory to add to any table setting but sometimes they need a little sprucing up. Here is a great—and easy!—tip to give your candles a little life.

Items you will need:






Step 1.
Wrap the desired amount of ribbon around the candle. Make sure that the design on the ribbon lines up. You want the pattern to look continuous.

Step 2.
Cut the ribbon and place it to the side. Take out four straight pins

Now here is where the Band-Aid comes in.

Step 3.
Place the Band-Aid on your thumb. You’re going to be applying a lot of pressure with your thumb so the Band-Aid is to protect it. Wrap the ribbon around the candle. With one straight pin, push it slowly with your thumb at the bottom of the ribbon. Repeat at the top of the ribbon. Repeat the same process with the other end of the ribbon.

Happy Times!
Erika Jones, A Social Life

For more great tips and inspiration, follow Erika on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram! Don’t forget to grab your discounted tickets to the Chicago Flower & Garden Show, taking place March 14-22, 2015 at Navy Pier. Use code NEWYEAR15 to save $5 total off box office prices, expiring December 31, 2014.



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Guest Blog Post: Design Tips for Your Holiday Table

Just in time for end-of-year holiday entertaining, we’re excited to share tablescape tips from Christine Janda, whose beautiful designs will be at the 2015 Chicago Flower & Garden Show presented by Mariano’s. Check out her advice to spruce up your seasonal table as you celebrate the holidays and the new year!

There’s no better time than the holidays to do something extra gorgeous, glamorous and special for your loved ones. Where to start? Your dinner table! After all, it’s all about the big special meal at the holidays.

Below are my favorite holiday table design tips for making a breathtaking statement for your guests this special time of year.

The holidays are a time of year to pump up the glitz and glamour. Stick with a bright and cheery traditional red and mix in luxe shimmering black for a formal look that screams fancy and fun. This contour linen is stunning and when combined with shimmering black linen, it’s party time.


I love the warmth gold brings to the table so incorporate this shine throughout the table from napkins, glassware and more. Finish the big pop of color with rich red mercury votives, found at almost every home store during this time of year. Don’t have red? Gold in various shades would be just as beautiful.

For a modern twist to the traditional poinsettia plant or pave red rose flowers of the holidays, mix in unexpected textural flowers such as mokara orchids and parrot tulips. Leafy greens, including seeded eucalyptus and ferns, are simply gorgeous because the black in the anemones and black privet tie the design back to the dramatic color scheme of the table. Your guests will be intrigued by the mix-matched cohesiveness of this centerpiece.


The final touch? Pine-accented mokara orchid boutonnieres for guests to pin on as they take their seat. There’s nothing more special than every guest receiving their very own flower at the beginning of dinner.

Gilded gold china, layer upon layer, eliminate the need of a charger. Fold your napkin in thirds, wrap horizontally between your salad and dinner plate and top with gorgeous holiday ribbon—Voila! A “gift” at each and every seat.

Mix in grandmother’s crystal with your own modern pieces. Our favorite rental option? Nimble Well glassware, in every color, shape and beautiful pattern.


Just like the perfect necklace completes an outfit, “accessories” on a table do just that. Printed menus not only let guests get excited for the meal to come, but also create a gorgeous design element to your table, setting the tone for the dinner party. Our favorite Chicago custom designs come from LBrown Design & Paperie.

Your guests will love to take home a special favor and these teeny tiny lanterns, accented with their name, is the perfect touch. Any ornament that is special to you when personalized makes a timeless holiday gift.

Lastly, leave a message on each setting to welcome guests to a holiday dinner they won’t forget. Back with colored card stock paper for a finished look.


For more exciting tablescape inspiration, make sure to follow Christine on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram! Catch her designs live at the Chicago Flower & Garden Show, March 14-22 at Navy Pier. Get your tickets by December 31 and save $5 off the total box office price with code NEWYEAR15!

Floral and Tabletop Design: Christine Janda Design & Events
Photography: Becky Brown Photography
Paper Design: LBrown Design & Paperie
Vintage Glassware: Nimble Well
Rentals: Tablescapes
Linen: BBJ Linen



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Forever Greens

It’s the most wonderful time of year for evergreen foliage! From wreaths and boughs to trees and table settings, you’d be hard-pressed to walk down the block or through the store without spotting these familiar seasonal favorites. Though the name indicates hardy, long-lasting plants, it’s important to remember to treat your evergreens just like your flowers—with lots of TLC to keep them thriving.
Matt Mansueto Photography-6701

Speaking of evergreens, it’s not too late to sign up for tomorrow’s Stem Studio Workshop! Join us at Mariano’s Ravenswood (1800 W. Lawrence) from 6:30–7:30 p.m. December 17, to create your own beautiful rose-berry-pine arrangement. All materials are covered for $25—reserve your spot now.


The quickest way to take the “green” out of “evergreen” is dehydration. If possible, try to position your evergreen décor away from direct sunlight, fireplaces and heating vents. If you mount a wreath on your front door or set up your tree in a window, you may have to be more attentive and try some of the following tips:

  • Delay the decorating. Even the most robust greenery can only last about four weeks indoors
  • Submerge your wreath in water overnight before hanging it to fully hydrate the needles
  • Consider using a glycerin solution in the water to preserve your evergreen arrangements
  • Mist boughs with a spray bottle every couple days
  • If your tree needs more water, drill a few holes in the stump just below the water line to increase intake
  • Use hairspray to keep dry needles from falling

What are your secrets to preserve your holiday decor? If your evergreens are taken care of, but your holiday shopping isn’t, make sure to grab your tickets to the 2015 Chicago Flower & Garden Show by December 31, 2014 to save $5 off the total box office price with code NEWYEAR15.


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Celebrating National Poinsettia Day

Eggnog. Carols. Snowmen. Holiday cheer. This time of year is overflowing with traditions that span generations and booming with anticipation of a new year. But when it comes to staples of the season one colorful plant comes to mind: poinsettias.

Brightly colored and known for its star-shaped silhouette, poinsettias have a rich history and unique tie to the holiday season. As National Poinsettia Day approaches us this Friday, December 12th, we thought it perfectly appropriate to share some lesser known details about one of our favorite holiday plants.

1. Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first ambassador to the new Republic of Mexico, was historically responsible for the popularity of the ruby plant throughout North America. While visiting the Taxco region of Mexico in 1828, Poinsett became so captivated with the plant that he decided to send clippings of it back to his home in Charleston, South Carolina. Upon return, he forwarded the clippings to his friends, thus introducing and spreading the beauty of poinsettias throughout the region.

Joel Poinsett
2. In 1833 the poinsettia had been originally assigned the botanical name of Euphorbia pulcherrima. By 1837 the plant had been renamed Poinsettia pucherrima by William Hickling Prescot. Prescot had been asked to rename the plant and chose to honor Joel Poinsett for his many achievements in government and horticulture.

3. In Mexico the poinsettia is known as “La Flor de Noche Buena,” or Flower of the Holy Night. It is displayed around Dia de la Virgen on December 12th to celebrate the Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe (Our Lady of Guadalupe). On this day people from all parts of Mexico make their way to the nation’s chief religious center at the Basilica of the Virgen of Guadalupe where a mass ceremony and traditional fair preside in her honor.

Dia VIrgen Guadalupe Celebration
4. In the United States, December 12th is celebrated as National Poinsettia Day in remembrance of Joel Poinsett, who died on the same date in 1851. It is only coincidental that December 12th is the celebrated date of the poinsettia plant in both Mexico and USA!

5. Poinsettias are not poisonous. A study at Ohio State University showed that a 50-pound child would have to eat more than 500 leaves to have any harmful effect. However, poinsettia leaves have an awful taste, so you might want to keep your pets from snacking on poinsettia leaves. Eating the leaves can cause vomiting and diarrhea.

6. There are more than 100 varieties of poinsettias available today. Poinsettias come in colors like the traditional red, white, pink, burgundy, marbled and speckled. Poinsettias contribute over $250 million to the U.S. economy at the retail level and are the best selling potted plant in the United States and Canada.

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100 Days to Go!

The countdown is officially on—we are 100 days out from the Chicago Flower & Garden Show! It’s a busy time of year and there’s so much to look forward to, but here’s an exciting taste of all the awesome things we are preparing for you come March.

28-plus Feature Gardens


Garden Gourmet


Potting Parties

Kids’ Activity Garden


Educational Seminars


National Cake Decorating Competition


How-to Gardens

The Marketplace


Evening in Bloom

Matt Mansueto Photography Web-3559

And much, much more!

We hope these photos remind you of all the great things to come at the 2015 Chicago Flower & Garden Show. Don’t wait to get your tickets—buy them online today and receive $2 off the box office price. See you in 100 days!

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Create a Pumpkin Centerpiece

Who doesn’t love pumpkins this time of year? With so many ways to enjoy these seasonal delights—soups, pies, coffee flavors—we couldn’t help but share one more!

This pumpkin-inspired tip comes from and is perfect for your Thanksgiving dining décor! All you need is a pumpkin or gourd, flowers and any other fall accents you find appealing. From leaves and pine cones to berries and branches, creating your own pumpkin vase is easy and allows you to be uniquely you.

Pumpkin vase

Step 1: Draw or scratch a cutting line on the top of your pumpkin. This will be the opening of your vase. Feel free to create a zigzag, wave or asymmetrical design, as this can help guide cascading flowers or branches in different directions.

Step 2: Gut and clean your pumpkin! Clear out the contents of your pumpkin to ensure an empty space for your fall arrangement. (But don’t forget to save and bake the seeds!)

Step 3: Place a small container or bowl inside your hollow pumpkin. This will hold the water to keep your flowers and greenery alive. Be sure to get a proper sized container that doesn’t peek over the top; it should be hidden from the outside. Tip: Insert a shaped piece of chicken wire to help hold flowers in in place.

Chicken wire inside pumpkinStep 4: Fill your pumpkin vase with your favorite fall flowers and accents! Chrysanthemums, dahlias and asters make for beautiful colors of yellow, red and purple. Your centerpiece will look even better if the flowers and arrangement explode over the sides of the vase, rather than stand straight up.

Some favorite arrangement combos to try:


Mix chrysanthemums with a fountain of red winterberry, burning bush and purple beautyberry for a dramatic, yet romantically rustic look.



Yellow beech leaves with pink and white dahlias are the perfect pairing for a welcoming centerpiece. Add gold spider mums into the mix for more texture.


Dahlia meets mums:

Using dahlias and mums, mix the colorful beauties with crabapples and orange winterberry. This will create a fresh and full display that warms your table.

Dahlia meets mums


Create a lavish and lush display with pomegranates, red viburnum berries, orange tulips, roses and ranunculus. Contrast the rustic color scheme with a bronzy-green magnolia-leaf wreath that cascades over the pumpkin edge.


Step 5: Enjoy your beautiful fall centerpiece! Water as needed. Note: Carved pumpkins can start to mold within a matter of days, so take that into consideration before creating your masterpiece.


Have you created your own pumpkin centerpiece? What is your go-to flower arrangement? Be sure to share what’s on your Thanksgiving table with the Chicago Flower & Garden Show!

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Winter is Here—Is Your Garden Ready?

This early cold snap is a reminder that winter is here to stay—for a lot longer. Hopefully your bulbs are planted and your garden is winterized in time, but if not, here are some tips to protect your garden from polar vortexes, snowfall and burrowing critters.

Clean & Prep
Tidy up your garden for winter by trimming back dry stems, removing pests, slimy leaves and weeds, and cutting off dead foliage. Clean out all annual plants after the season to prevent harmful insects and disease from festering. If you compost, these remnants will make a great addition to your pile. Cut back your perennials to four to six inches tall once they’re dead.

Stand Tall
Don’t cut back all of your plants, however. Sunflowers, thistles, coneflowers and others with unique seed heads look great in winter and provide a safe haven for butterfly eggs and bird nests!


Compost & Cover
Leaves, food waste, trimmings, straw and grass make for a hearty compost to layer on top of your garden to make your soil nutrient-rich come spring. Spread 1–6 inches of compost over your garden before winter takes hold.


Layer with Mulch
Just how we bundle up in layers and scarves, your garden benefits from a coat of mulch. It helps regulate soil temperate and keeps the roots of your plants nourished, as well as prevents weeds and erosion. Just make sure to remove weeds and leaves before laying 2–4 inches of mulch around the base of your plants. Be careful! Too much mulch can lead to nesting animals, rot or disease. Roses can have a deeper mulch base. Don’t mulch too early—around the first freeze should work best. You can also use boughs from your holiday plants and decorations.


Plan Ahead
Once your garden is winter-proofed, take some time to clean, organize and store your tools so that you’re ready to go at the first sign of spring. This is also the perfect time to grab seed catalogs or log into Pinterest to start dreaming up next year’s purchases and plants! Happy planning!


Still blue about the end of green? Spring can be in reach with discounted tickets to the Chicago Flower & Garden Show, available online now! We can’t wait to see you March 14–22, 2015 at Navy Pier! 

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