When I went to the media preview of the Chicago Flower & Garden Show a few of the vendors were unpacked and I was able to buy a couple of things but I had to wait until the first day of the show to see many booth. If you're attending the Chicago Flower & Garden Show here are a few vendors I think you should stop by and visit at the Garden Marketplace.
Ted's Greenhouse is a place I've heard a lot about. I've never been able to visit the place because it is out in the suburbs. When I came across the booth I understood why everyone who knew I liked cacti & succulents always recommended I make the trek to Tinely Park. If you collect cacti & succulents in Chicago and you're only options for buying plants is either The Home Depot or Lowe's the booth by Ted's Greenhouse is worth the cost of admission for the Chicago Flower & Garden Show. I was overwhelmed by the variety of cacti & succulents available for sale, many of them I'd only previously seen in books, websites or garden blogs. The day of the media preview I came home with a Climbing Onion to replace the one I killed a year ago, Kedrostris africana a climbing vine with a fat caudex that is a member of the cucumber family and a Dorstenia foetida a member of the fig tree family. The cacti & succulents on sale here start at $2.00-which is less expensive than buying then in big box garden centers and the varieties are better.
I wish I could remember the name of these vendors but they have a large booth you can't miss in the Garden Marketplace. If you garden in Chicago and have serious zone denial or only have small window space to grow some plants visit this booth. The variety of tender bulbs for spring and summer planting left my head spinning. Many of these plants can be grown in pots and brought in during the winter or lifted from your garden and stored. The two owners are both holding different varieties of Elephant Ear tubers and those are not cow patties, they are huge Cyclamen tubers in their left hands. I purchased four new Amaryllis bulbs for my Amaryllis blog, a Voodoo Lily, African Blood Lily and one new Pineapple Lily.
If you're familiar with guerrilla gardening then you've heard of seed bombs. The SeedBallz are the same thing and this booth is another vendor in the Garden Marketplace you should shop. They employ people with disabilities to hand-roll and package all of the SeedBallz and each seed ball contains the same amount of seeds as a regular seed packet. You can choose from packets of herbs, wildflowers, sunflowers or Black-Eyed Susan SeedBallz. They're an easy way to garden either in your garden or containers. I got a packet of SeedBallz that I'm going to use to do some guerrilla gardening with.
Rich's Foxwillow Pines Nursery is another booth you should stop by if you're only plant sources in the city are big box garden centers. A great variety of rare trees and evergreens, dwarf varieties are great for containers and a good source for bonsai masters and enthusiasts alike. If you've never had the chance to meet Rich-you should find him either at this booth or at the Reflections garden. I've never met a better ambassador for the gardening world than Rich, the man is an inspiration.
I got to meet Annelise and her brother Geoff of CobraHead and talked a bit about Spring Fling and got to see their line of garden tools. They were pretty cool and humored me and struck their best American Gothic pose so I could take their picture.
Next to the booth for CobraHead I met Suzanne Nicksic of Organic Garden Co. She's a local garden designer and distributor of Instant Bio-Tea who preached the benefits of compost tea applications to me when we talked. I had such a nice time talking with her and was impressed by the passion she exhibited for gardening sustainably that I'd recommend her if you're looking for gardening or landscaping services in the Chicagoland area.