Blumen Gardens, in Sycamore, Illinois, is one of my all-time favorite nurseries, and my sister Kathy and I were there today. Nestled in the ruins of an abandoned industrial lot, it offers vivid lessons in garden design. The swirling brick pathways show how well-designed “hardscaping” can make a garden, and the use of pots and other props are lessons in creating focal points. Sun perennials are arranged by color, and you have the sense of walking through a rainbow. There is a generous feeling to this nursery, as waves of self-seeded poppies, larkspur, and hollyhocks surge out onto the street. There is also an entire vintage brick warehouse filled with a mind-boggling array of pots, statues, and other garden tchotchkes. Blumen Gardens feels like a wonderfully imaginative garden oasis, and if I sound a bit “over the top” enthusiastic about it, it’s because I love the exuberant creativity of the place.
Come with a notebook, pencil, and camera to take note of ideas. Blumen Gardens is worth a detour if you live anywhere in the western Chicago surburbs. It’s at 403 Edward Street, in Sycarmore, IL.