The Chicago Flower & Garden Show Presented by Mariano's took place March 14-22 at Navy Pier. This year's theme was "Do Green. Do Good."
As usual, there were the show gardensan impressive 21 this year. They included "The Gardens of Mackinac"; "Tulip Splendor"; ""811 N. Greenline ParkwayNatural Gas Safety Garden" ( with builder Christy Webber Landscapes ); "Gardening with a Purpose"; "Masks: Disguide-Expose-Celebrate"; and "Santuario de la Monarca ( Monarch Sanctuary )," among them.
Also included among the show gardens were dazzling tablescapes, with top designers, event planners, florists and retailers putting their creativity on display.
In addition, the marketplacewith more than 100 exhibitorsreturned, with vendors offering everything from carnivorous plants to decorative gardening implements ( Steel Heart Ltd. ) to perfume/cologne ( Sujal Fragrances Inc. ) to pain-free lotion ( Real Time Pain Relief ) to chocolate-covered habaneros ( Gourmet Goodies ).
Speaking of food, though, there was a new twist at the show this year: cakes. The RBA National Cake Decorating Competition took place March 21-22, with Emily Pille from Karen's Bakery & Cafe in Folsom, California, being named the 2015 grand champion. Sponsored by Pillsbury, RBA's National Cake Decorating Competition tested eight of the country's "cake elite" with a series of cake challenges, including wedding, sculpted and rolled fondant cakes. Pille's cake skills earned her a $4,000 prize.
There were also other "demo" cakes from places such as Swedish Bakery. The attention to detail in some of these desserts caused many attendees to respond in awe.
Lastly, the "Evening in Bloom" preview party took place March 13. The party benefited several local charities, including the Illinois Fire Chiefs Association, Alzheimer's Association and Peterson Garden Project.
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Photos by Andrew Davis